Agenda and minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1 - Herefordshire Council, Plough Lane Offices, Hereford, HR4 0LE. View directions

Contact: Simon Cann, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: Watch this meeting on the Herefordshire Council YouTube Channel

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.



Apologies were received from Councillor Clare Davies, Councillor Rob Williams and Jan Frances.


Named substitutes

To receive details of members nominated to attend the meeting in place of a member of the committee.


Councillor Richard Thomas substituted for Councillor Rob Williams.


Declarations of interest

To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 335 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 12 March 2024.


[Papers to follow]





Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2024 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.


Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 405 KB

To receive any written questions from members of the public.


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.


Questions from members of the council

To receive any written questions from members of the council.


No questions were received from members of the council.


Chair Update

For the Chair to communicate or receive updates on any work and activity relevant to the committee’s remit.


The Statutory Scrutiny Officer provided updates on:


-       a scrutiny working day for 30 May 2024 to look at and consider the work of the council over the next 12 months.

-       a thematic work programming meeting on 26 June 2024

-       a visit to the MASH with dates to be confirmed.


Introduction to Fostering pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:


The Service Director for Corporate Parenting gave an overview of the report and presented a series of slides providing an introduction to fostering. The key areas covered during the presentation were:


·         Introduction to Herefordshire Fostering Service

·         Staffing in the Service

·         Service Re-Alignment

·         Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team

·         Fostering Recruitment Developments

·         Connected Persons and Special Guardian Team

·         Fostering Support Team

·         The Home Finding Team

·         Herefordshire Fostering Panel


The Chair invited comments and questions from The Committee, the principle points of discussion are summarised below:


1.       The Committee explained it had invited comments from foster carers, a sample part of a statement was read out, which highlighted the frustration of a foster carer couple who had handed their notice in due to their concerns about the handling of children’s care not being listened to or acted on.

2.       The Committee raised concerns about approved carers with no placements being ready to go, but not getting any placements, and raised the question of who was responsible for placement allocation and how the process worked.

3.       The Committee suggested that the voice of the carer was not always heard and that there were historic instances involving complaints where the word of children and social workers had been believed over foster carers with 30 years of fostering experience.

4.       The Committee emphasised the need for additional fostering support workers.

5.       The Committee highlighted a need to ensure that the system for council tax exemption for kinship carers treated existing carers fairly and that kinship carers were paid a fair amount for the work they carried out.

o   The Service Director for Corporate Parenting explained that the issues around council tax exemption for kinship carers had been brought to their attention two days after starting in the role on 8 April 2024. Meetings regarding how to address the differentials between kinship and foster carer council tax exemptions had taken place with the chief executive and cabinet member and a report on the matter was expected on 16 May 2024.

o   The Service Director expressed disappointment at the negative feedback the Committee had received from foster carers. A number of consultation groups had been held during the drafting of the improvement plan and it was acknowledged that improvements and developments were starting from a very low base.

o   The Service Director pointed out that the previous Interim Head of Service had met with as many foster carers as was possible in order to hear directly from them. This information had been escalated and it was acknowledged that there was a real need to rebuild trust and confidence within the service.

o   Rebuilding trust and confidence in the service was an ongoing process and feedback would continue to be invited. Assurance was given that when difficult truths were highlighted the service would listen to and respond to them.

o   Supervising social workers who are qualified social workers were expected as a national minimum requirement, but the service had and was looking to recruit additional support workers.

6.       The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 203.


Work programme

To consider the work programme for the committee.


The committee would be holding a work programming session on 26 June 2024.


Date of the next meeting

Thursday 13 June 2024 2.00pm


Thursday 13 June 2024, 2pm


Appendix 1. Public Questions and Responses and Supplementary Questions and Responses



Anonymous, Herefordshire

Scrutiny Meeting:

7 May 2024

Question:  Are Herefordshire Children’s Services biased towards mum and why do dads not get the same help and support that mum's do?

Response: The Children Act 1989 refers to parents, not mothers or fathers. The assessment of parents is determined by their capacity to meet the needs of their children. Help and support provided by Children’s Services should be inclusive of both fathers and mothers.

There is a positive impact on children when fathers have a positive and caring relationships with them so it is important to promote a ‘Think Family’ approach whereby the inclusion of fathers, as well as mothers, will help to achieve the best outcomes for the children.

In practice, this means a child’s father should be encouraged to engage and participate in assessments, planning and reviews about help and support. Children’s Services do not consciously seek to disadvantage fathers or show unfair bias towards mothers at the expense of father and if there is a cause for concern it should be raised with the allocated social worker and their line manager so this can be considered and addressed.



Ms Maggie Steel, Hereford

Scrutiny Meeting:

7 May 2024

Question: If a member of the public has safeguarding concerns over a foster carer or a kinship carer, is the fostering panel made aware of those concerns?

Response: The Fostering Panel promotes safe, secure and stable placements. It carries out a rigorous quality assurance function and promotes thorough assessments, support and training for foster carers. As part of this function, the panel oversees the conduct of assessments and annual reviews of approved foster carers.

Any allegations about safeguarding concerns in respect of a foster carer, including a kinship carer (also known as ‘Connected’ or ‘Family and Friends Carers), raised by anyone, including a member of the public, will be responded to in accordance with established multi-agency Child Protection Procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) will also work with multi-agency partners and employers, to manage allegations about people who work with children in paid or unpaid positions, including foster carers.

Allegations made about foster carers will necessitate an early fostering review and the matter being referred to the Fostering Panel to consider the continuing suitability to foster. The supervising social worker for the foster carer and/or the children’s allocated social worker will inform the Fostering Panel about safeguarding issues regarding the foster carer for the Fostering Panel to consider during the foster carer’s annual review. The Fostering Panel can subsequently make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker which could include the recommendation to terminate the foster carer’s approval.




Ms Donna Conway, Leominster

Scrutiny Meeting:

7 May 2024

Question:  On page 6 of the presentation about fostering in Herefordshire it states this:


"Development of the recruitment strategy through the successful retention of current Foster Carers who will champion and promote becoming a Herefordshire Foster Carer, including a £500 referral scheme for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 206.