Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 24th October 2023 12:30pm

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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There were none at this meeting.


Minutes of the meeting held on 14 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

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Resolved: That the minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 14 September 2023 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Strategic Vision for Early Years pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

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The Committee considered a report and presentation outlining the strategic vision for early years. They were aware that transformative reforms to childcare had been announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget. The investment was to provide additional funded hours for childcare, helping working families with childcare costs. Members received details of the phased introduction of the new entitlement, with increased funding of childcare places in England from 50% to 80%. Entitlement of subsidised childcare was also being extended, with the 30-hours entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds extended down to those who are 9 months old. A national wraparound childcare scheme was also being introduced, providing schools and local authorities with funding to support the set up of wraparound provision for primary school children from September 2024.


In July 2023 the Government launched a funding consultation on the approach to funding 2 year olds and under from 2024-25. The consultation considered proposed new funding formula for calculating local authority hourly funding rates for the entitlements for 2 year olds and under from April 2024, with the outcome of this consultation expected in the autumn term of 2023.


The Committee heard details of difficulties within the childcare market, noting that the number of Ofsted registered providers had fallen by 7% during the period March 2022 to March 2023.


These significant changes required a new approach which had resulted in a review of the Early Years structure within Staffordshire following the transfer of the Early Years Team from Entrust back in-house with the County Council. The proposed changes were intended to improve outcomes for children and families through more efficient, joined up and holistic services. The new early years team design and delivery would be integrated into the Family Hub model, building on the integrated access to early help and support.


The Early Years Team undertook a number of functions, including placement sufficiency and market development, quality and support for settings and training and development. With the Team being brought back inhouse a number of changes were being proposed, including:

·         no longer routinely charging settings for training and development;

·         cultural and structural change to the Team, removing the flat structure, introducing line management, defining roles more clearly and removing the very function specific culture;

·         encouraging use of initiative and a broader approach to early years and away from only acting on direction;

·         building resilience within the team; and

·         greater resource into market development to ensure placement sufficiency for the extended entitlements.


The Committee were pleased to note that Staffordshire was in the upper quartile for take up of early year’s provision for three and four year olds. They received details of a number of initiatives for early years, including the Hungry Little Minds pilot project which offered information, advice and guidance to support children in their earliest years. They also heard about learning from the Stoke Speaks Out initiative which Staffordshire was adapting for use within the County and which helped identify developmental delays. These initiatives had received one-off funding,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 193 KB

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The Committee had an informal meeting with the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner at the conclusion of this meeting.


A request had been received to include two extra reports to the 4 January agenda for pre-decision scrutiny. These were:

i)            Provision of services for children and young people

ii)           Family Help Pilot


Resolved: That the amendments to the work programme be agreed.