An Open Letter to Cllr Alisa Flemming, Labour Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning.
Dear Cllr. Flemming,
I am writing to you today to express my serious concern about the cancellation of yet another meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel. These are exceptional times but this is the third cancellation this year.
This Panel that you chair is one of the most important in the Council. It is where we as elected councillors can challenge, scrutinise the work of your department in supporting vulnerable children in the care of Croydon Council. Crucially we also hear what they and their foster carers have to say about the care and support they receive.
The impact of Covid-19 on children and young people is well documented but of course for children in care whose lives may have been scarred by abuse or neglect the impact could be profound. We simply cannot afford to miss any opportunity to support them.
We are meant to have six meetings per year. Yet you have so far cancelled three of them. Assuming the final meeting of the year goes ahead that means we will have only met four times this year. This means the meeting agendas are too full, so we don’t get the opportunity to give these children the care and attention they deserve. Is that really good enough considering the importance of our subject matter?
This panel is vital for us to listen to the voice of vulnerable children in Croydon. That’s why I am so disappointed that last night you chose to attend a Labour Party meeting and postpone the Panel with just 45 minutes notice. This is totally unacceptable. All councillors are ‘Corporate Parents’ – we all have a responsibility to these children. Last night you chose to put your Labour party politics ahead of the needs of our most vulnerable residents.
Under your so-called leadership, vulnerable children were put at risk of “significant harm” as the damning 2017 Ofsted Report revealed. Since then some very good work has been done by staff to support these children and young people but because of the latest financial incompetence of your Administration these improvements are now at risk.
The futures of young people in care can often be bleak. The Corporate Parenting Panel has a role to help change that future so that they can have a fulfilling life and opportunities we take for granted. The last agenda item on the Panel is always “How did we help Children in Care
Today?” How can we carry out our role as Corporate Parents and Panel Members if meetings continue to be cancelled?
Cllr. Flemming you say you care about the welfare of Croydon’s Children in Care. Actions however speak louder than words. Please reassure us that you will ensure enough meetings of Corporate Parenting Panel are held so we can carry out our responsibilities to this very vulnerable group.
Cllr Maria Gatland
Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Learning