To receive a report of the Director of Children’s Services providing a progress update on reshaping short break activities.
The Committee received a report from a representative of the Director of Children’s Services updating them on progress made in reshaping the Short Breaks Activities programme (Item 7 in the Minute Book).
Members attention was drawn to the contextual information relating to the decision to reshape the short breaks activities programme as set out at Section 3 of the report, and the changes approved for implementation were highlighted. It was explained that since the decision approving changes to the programme, a letter had been sent to all families who accessed short break activities to provide an overview of the changes. Other communication and engagement with stakeholders and interested parties was also detailed at Section 5 of the report.
The continuing engagement between Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Parent Carer Network (HPCN) was highlighted and Members noted the long standing positive relationship with HPCN, with officers attending monthly meetings to ensure that parents and carers could be kept updated on implementation progress. Feedback had also been received from HPCN on priorities for grant applications as well as the gateway card application form. Officers had also engaged with the Young People’s Engagement Group (YPEG) and it was heard that wider feedback had been received and the YPEG had been closely involved in the design of the new Gateway card, the final version of which could be seen at paragraph 5.9 of the report. Members heard that the YPEG had also produced an informative video for young people explaining the changes to the short break activities programme.
Members heard that the short breaks activities programme would be commissioned on the basis of priorities, agreed with a representative parent/carer panel and it was heard that this would take some time to develop but interim arrangements would be put in place during this time. The timeline of activity was explained to Members as detailed in paragraph 7.11 of the report.
Officers explained how the new online Gateway card application worked as set out in Section 8 of the report and it was heard that to date, only 10 applications had been declined due to not meeting the eligibility criteria.
It was highlighted that in relation to proposal six to stop funding short break activities for young people aged 18 and over, half of the 50 families contacted were not accessing short break activities. Members heard that in relation to proposal nine to stop funding swimming as a short break activity, extensive work had been undertaken in looking at how to support Hampshire swimming providers. Officers drew Members attention to opportunities such as Government funding which would have the potential to minimise the effect of the withdrawal of short break activities funding for swimming.
In response to questions, Members heard that:
· A provider forum was held in September 2018 which was attended by short break activity providers, where providers, including swimming providers, had the opportunity to discuss and raise any concerns regarding the redesigned short break activities programme. Members heard that a further provider forum was planned for early 2019.
· A range of priorities set by a representative parent/carer panel would assist in developing a commissioning strategy for the short break activities programme and a priority led approach.
· Information about the Gateway card was readily available on the Council website as well as an information leaflet which could be downloaded and printed.
· Ongoing work with Energise Me had helped to identify a number of opportunities for schools and swimming providers to minimise the effect of funding withdrawal for swimming as part of the short breaks activities programme.
· Officers from Children’s Services would attend a meeting of the Autism Partnership Board.
· Payment in advance for short break activities had been introduced to compensate for “no shows”, but at the providers discretion allowances could be made for unforeseen circumstances.
Councillor Chadd proposed and Councillor Bolton seconded an amendment to the recommendation for a further update to be presented to the Committee in 12 months time. This was agreed by Members.
That the Children and Young People Select Committee noted the progress of the implementation of the reshaped Short break Activities Programme, and requested a further update in 12 months time.