Agenda item

Ukrainian Children Update




The Corporate Director of Central Services introduced the report on the Ukrainian Children Update. The Corporate Director of Central Services coordinated an officer group comprising a range of services, such as Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Counter Fraud and Housing with a view to placing guests with vetted hosts. Over the past year, officers had been working with the voluntary sector to help, for example, register with GPs, to obtain school places, and to connect with other Ukrainians. The focus had also turned to adult learning and preparation for work and other employment opportunities. It was highlighted that schools had been provided with information and access to the LEAP digital platform, and that officers had responded to needs including psychological needs, and the Virtual School had helped with the placement of refugee children and with help for non-English speakers.


There was also the intention here of avoiding children becoming NEET and that the Council had access to grant funding based on head count. Support had also turned to achieving educational outcomes, and it was noted that Ukrainians were not saturated in specific schools. A cluster model had been employed and met the needs of both the individual and the school. Internal services were all involved in this process, to identify any red flags, and to identify any issues at an early stage. It was noted here that some websites were available in Ukrainian.


Members asked about how targeted support was measured, and officers noted that it was too early to say at this point, although a further report could be brought to a future Committee.


Members highlighted the difference between Ukrainian children placed under the Homes for Ukrainians scheme, as opposed to those that were not placed under the scheme. Officers noted that this related to the type of visa and to funding. Funding was received for those placed under the scheme only. In November 2022, Hillingdon had received notification of a grant of £712,896 for the integration of Ukrainian children into schools and the wider community on arrival into the UK under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme. The grant funding was to be distributed throughout 2023/24 on a needs basis.


Members put on record their support for Ukraine. Member asked about numbers of bi-lingual officers; about how the Council was supporting those who had suffered bereavements; and about the partnership with Wealdstone FC. Officers noted that there was a shortfall of bi-lingual officers, but this was not seen as an issue as there were other avenues/ networks to deal with this; there was an educational psychology service and health services available for help with bereavement, and officers were making schools aware of this; and the partnership with Wealdstone FC offered places for children to attend training events and to watch matches.


Members asked about preparations for longer-term arrangements and plans for more integration. Officers noted that arrangements were being made for the next financial year with a focus on integration and re-settlement. There were also arrangements for Ukrainians to network with each other. Officers and volunteers were working together on this and in some cases Ukrainian guests worked on networking with more recent arrivals.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the information presented within the report and asked questions about the support being provided to children.


Supporting documents: