Minutes of the Meeting of the Joint Committee on Children and Young People held in the Council Chamber, Highland Council Headquarters, Inverness on Friday, 16 January 2009 at 2.15 p.m.
Mrs M C Davidson (in the Chair), Mr A S Park, Mr W Fernie, Mrs E McAllister, Ms E MacDonald
Ms P Courcha, Mr I Gibson, Mrs J Baird, Mr C Punler (by telephone conferencing)
Miss C Burns, Youth Convener
Ms J Douglas, Chairman of the Highland Drug and Alcohol Action Team
Ms R MacSween, Development Officer Northern Constabulary
Mr A McMahon, Children’s Right Officer, Social Work Services
Miss J Maclennan, Committee Administrator, Chief Executive’s Office
Highland Council/NHS Highland
Mr B Alexander, Head of Children Services
Ms S Amor, Child Health Commissioner
Mrs M Paterson, Children’s Champion
Mrs L Munro, Children’s Champion
Mr C Munro, Highland Children’s Forum
Ms A Darlington, Youth Action Service
Mr A Wilson,'Who Cares? Scotland’
Ms C MacLean, Children in the Highlands Information Point + (CHIP+)
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mrs A Bethune, Mrs G McCreath, Dr R Gibbons, Mr A M Millar, Mr G MacLeod, Mr H Fraser, Mrs H Dempster, Ms R Sime and Mrs A Brady.
2. Minutes of Meeting of the Joint Committee held on 28 November
The Minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 28 November 2008 were circulated and NOTED.
Arising from the Minutes, also NOTED:-
i. in relation to item 6, Young Carers Strategy, the formal launch of the
strategy would take place on 6 March 2009; and
ii. in relation to item 7, Review of Primary Mental Health Workers, a statistical
presentation would be made to a future Chief officers meeting with a
mapping of current provision and an update on the framework
implementation would be reported back to a future meeting of the Joint
3. Revenue Budget 2008/09 – Monitoring
Report No CYP-1-09 by Bill Alexander, Head of Children’s Services was circulated detailing the position of the Joint Committee for Children and Young People budget as at 31 December 2008 and which showed a projected underspend of £446,000.
In providing further detail on the main variances, it was explained that the underspend in early years services reflected staff vacancies and the consequent reduction in developmental activity taking place. In addition, indications were that enrolment figures for pre-school provision had not reduced and consequently some expenditure that had been held in reserve would now be required to meet the savings target requested by the Highland Council. In relation to out of authority placements, the projected overspend related to the timing of invoices and payments but it was anticipated the budget would be on target.
i. NOTED the current budget position as at 31 December 2008; and
ii. AGREED that the position in relation to Early Years and Childcare for the
following year be reported to Members.
4. Substance Misuse and Funding Streams
Ms J Douglas declared a non-financial interest in this item as Chairman of the Highland Drug and Alcohol Action Team but, having applied the test outlined in Paragraph 5.18 of the Code of Conduct, concluded that her interest did not preclude her involvement in discussion.
Report No CYP-2-09 by Pol McClelland, Resource Manager and Suzy Calder, Substance Misuse and Strategy Implementation Manager was circulated on the funding streams that supported alcohol and substance misuse services for children and young people in Highland. In addition, in line with the developing For Highland’s Children 3 improvement objectives, it also put forward proposals to further enhance children’s services with the additional alcohol funding allocation being managed through NHS Highland.
Targets set out in For Highland’s Children 2 to reduce substance misuse by young people had been surpassed. However, for a more detailed picture, the Joint Committee had supported the undertaking of a lifestyle survey which would allow specific services to be better focused and to further develop early intervention in areas of need. The Highland Drug and Alcohol Action Team had received Government funding to address alcohol misuse and specific applications for this money were suggested.
It was important that any project receiving HDAAT funding fed statistics back to them to allow information to be gathered in a co-ordinated way. Concern was also expressed that there were incidents of children under 14 years old coming to the attention of Raigmore Hospital with alcohol related problems but that information was not then referred on to schools etc. Early intervention was imperative, an example being the problems which could occur as a result of foetal alcohol syndrome but which could be mitigated if more support was available for pregnant women. Continuing, the relationship between substance misuse and non attendance at school was giving concern in specific areas but it was hoped the lifestyle survey might help to identify appropriate solutions. The relatively low cost of alcohol and the change in family dynamics were considered to be contributing factors to alcohol misuse but Members were advised of a number of initiatives and of a collaborative approach taken by the Highland Council and NoNorthern Constabulary to share intelligence with a view to preventing underage drinking.
NOTED that improvement objectives for 2009-12 were to be included in For Highland Children’s 3 and AGREED:-
i. to support the proposals to enhance services for children that were being
submitted to HDAAT, namely:-
• the Action for Children application for additional alcohol monies to
achieve the full integration of the three inter-related Action for
• the input of direct dedicated nursing support into Youth Action Teams.
ii. to emphasise to those receiving funding of the importance of feeding
back to HDAAT the outcomes and information gathered;
iii. that Officers investigate the response to children who attended Accident
and Emergency Units for reasons of substance misuse but who did not
iv. to recognise the support required for women dealing with alcohol and
drug misuse in pregnancy if the priorities of Early Years and early
intervention were to be addressed; and
v. to investigate, when gathering information from the lifestyle survey, the
relationship between substance misuse and non-attendance at school.
5. Early Years Framework
Report No CYP-3-09 by Bill Alexander, Head of Children’s Services was circulated updating Members on the CoSLA/Scottish Government document on the Early Years Framework. Although no new resources were available, the document did fit well with what was already on-going in Highland. The Framework set ten broad areas, as detailed in the report, which would act as a model for delivering a cohesive approach to a transformational change in outcomes.
The document’s emphasis on working with communities was welcomed and it was important to ensure this was taken into account in the community planning process. However, there were some areas that it was felt the document had overlooked, particularly the issues raised in the NHS Highland policy document “Better Health, Better Care” and how local authorities might become more involved in mainstream maternity services. Highland had a good track record of working around the Early Years but it would be beneficial for an audit of current provision to be undertaken and how it might be developed and an examination of the HMIe Inspection Framework in relation to work across Parenting, Early Years and SureStart at a future meeting of the Joint Committee was proposed. The benefits in the long term of early intervention were recognised and discussions should continue to ascertain if any seed funding would be provided for pilot projects. Regardless, it was important, when considering the document, not to lose sight of the needs of children beyond 8 years old where it was felt there was perhaps a dearth of services available.
i. to endorse the Early Years Framework but restated the need for it to take
into account the points raised in the NHS document policy document
Better Health, Better Care and core maternity services;
ii. that the Joint Committee had a role to ensure that the Framework was
taken on board by NHS Highland and Highland Council’s community
iii. for consideration of opportunities for an approach to the Scottish
Government for monies to be brought forward earlier to set up an early
intervention pilot project;
iv. a report on the HMIe Inspection Framework in relation to work across
Parenting, Early Years and SureStart be brought to a meeting of the Joint
Committee to give Members an opportunity to see what had taken place
to date and how best practice could be picked up and disseminated; and
NOTED that For Highland’s Children 3 would include specific proposals for service improvement in line with this policy initiative.
6. Wraparound Childcare
Report No CYP-4-09 by Sam Brogan, Senior Childcare & Family Resource Officer was circulated providing an update on progress towards the target of delivering a sustainable network of quality wraparound care, including the growing role of the local authority and the need to address and formalise key issues. The report also sought support for plans of Cùram Chloinne Inbhir Nis to establish a Gaelic wraparound service in Inverness.
The proposals contained in For Highland’s Children 3 included a commitment to consult at Associated School Group level about the demand for additional wraparound provision and how best gaps in service could be met. There were also a number of significant developments proposed, including 2 year old pre-school provision, and consequently there were no plans at this stage to amend early education services prior to enrolment until it was decided how these developments could be met. However, Members were reminded that some services might prove unviable, as a result of low enrolment, and decisions would be required bearing in mind the need to ensure robust provision into the future. More wraparound childcare was being provided by the local authority and various systems and processes had been established on a pragmatic basis. There was now a need to formalise these arrangements and proposals in relation to fees had been made together with recommendations as to how any surplus income would be used.
In developing wraparound childcare it was vital that parents and communities were on board from the outset and that Local Members were kept informed. It was confirmed that there were not enough staff in place at present to meet the wraparound proposals but this emphasised the need for consolidation of the number of centres. Management of local authority centres was still being considered to determine the best model and would be considered by the Council’s Education, Culture and Sport Committee.
NOTED the progress of wraparound childcare services in Highland and AGREED:-
i. that Local Members be kept informed of discussions with communities and
parents regarding the provision of wraparound care and/or where pre-
school provision was no longer required as a result of this year’s enrolment;
ii. the fees for the standard 2009/10 session be £8 per session for out of
school care and £3 per hour for wraparound for 3-5 year olds outwith
iii. that local authority childcare income be used to provide the means and
infrastructure that was required to deliver the service and any surplus
income be available to support childcare services across the authority;
iv. that operational matters relating to the organisation of local authority
provision be considered by the Education, Culture and Sport Committee;
v. grant funding of £5,000 be provided to Cùram Chloinne Inbhir Nis for
7. Celebrating Success and Challenging Stigma: ‘Who Cares?
Scotland’ Trek to Nepal
Report No CYP-5-09 by Bill Alexander, Head of Children’s Services was circulated on proposals for ‘Who Cares? Scotland’ to enable looked after children and staff to undertake a trek to Nepal in November 2009 to mark the organisation’s 30th anniversary. The recommendation was to help support two staff and two young people from Highland to participate in this exercise and to co-ordinate a campaign with ‘Who Cares? Scotland’ and Wellbeing Alliance partners to raise the remaining amount.
Bearing in mind the Council’s corporate parenting responsibility, the request was welcomed and various sources of possible funding were suggested. However, it was appropriate that those involved should also take responsibility for raising some of the outstanding amount and that they share their experiences with other groups of young people, including those in residential establishments, as well as the Joint Committee through video diaries, liaison with Youth Voice etc. The criteria for selecting the individuals was still being set but it was recognised that they would have to be physically and emotionally mature. The benefit would however go beyond those selected by raising the aspirations of those involved in the fundraising and preparation for the trip.
i. to fund half the amount for each participant, equivalent to £1,000 each;
ii. to support a campaign to raise the outstanding amount through agencies
of the Joint Committee and their staff and from the wider community and
iii. to involve all young people and staff within the looked after placement
from where the participants were selected in the fundraising to encourage
participation, self confidence and self esteem;
iv. to enable the staff involved to take time away from their employment at
the normal terms and conditions of service;
v. to assist the young people to have time away from their normal activities;
vi. to promote the event as a positive activity by four of the Highland’s
looked after children and staff; and
vii. that the participants be encouraged to share their experiences with the
Joint Committee and other young people.
8. For Highland’s Children 3 - Update
Report No CYP-6-09 by Innis Mitchell, Children’s Planning Officer was circulated providing an update on the developing framework and detailed content of For Highland’s Children (FHC) 3. Work had commenced on the process to select the Key Outcome Targets for FHC3. The Council’s Corporate Plan, the Single Outcome Agreement and the Health, Efficiency, Access and Treatment Targets had all set multi-agency outcomes with appropriate performance measures and which were included in FHC3. However, to ensure continuous service improvement, it was proposed to use the three year cycle to report back on performance on each area of FHC3 with the objective of stimulating discussion and thus redrawing targets. The timescales involved in presenting each strategy would be set following negotiations with Highland Youth Voice and the Highland Children’s Forum who would provide a supportive structure on consultation and participation.
NOTED the developing framework for For Highland’s Children 3.
9. Future Business of the Joint Committee for Children and Young
Report No CYP-7-09 by Bill Alexander, Head of Children’s Services, was circulated setting out a proposed list of reports to be considered at future meetings of the Joint Committee on Children and Young People.
NOTED the proposed list of reports and AGREED reports also be considered on Supporting Parents in Highland and, following on from item 2, Primary Mental Health Workers.
10. Date of Next Meeting
NOTED that the next meeting would be held in the Centre for Health Sciences, Old Perth Road, Inverness on Friday 13 March 2009 at 10.30 a.m.
The meeting ended at 3.50 p.m.