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5.1.1 Corporate Parenting


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Aims and Objectives of the Strategy
  3. Strategic Responsibilities
  4. Conclusion
  5. Evaluation and Review of the Strategy


1. Introduction

The Corporate Parenting Policy & Strategy 2013-14 describes how Brighton and Hove City Council will achieve its aim of making sure that the children and young people living in its care will become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors and whose lives mirror those of their peers. Consultation on the policy and strategy took place from June – August 2013 with stakeholders. This included a wide range of council staff, carers, children and young people and partner agencies. The draft document was also posted on the Consultation Portal on the council’s website from 5th July–2nd August. Contributions from the Equalities Co-ordinator, Communities and Equality Team have also been included.

Corporate Parenting describes the responsibilities that all elected members and all employees of Brighton and Hove City Council and all of its partner organisations have towards the children and young people who are in local authority care. These include children accommodated by voluntary agreement with their parent, those on orders of the court, those in shared care/respite arrangements, those remanded into care and unaccompanied asylum seeking children. These duties extend to the age of 21 years (or 25 if remaining in education) for those young people who left care at 18 years.

The number of children in care in Brighton and Hove as at 31st August 2013 was 447.  By age band, the numbers and gender were:

  • Under 1 (36; 15 male, 21 female)
  • 1 to 4 (67; 37 male, 30 female)
  • 5 to 9 (75; 35 male, 40 female)
  • 10 to 15 (180; 92 male, 88 female)
  • 16-17 (89; 50 male, 39 female)
  • 185 young people 18-21+ who had left care where statutory duties continue

Good parents make sure their children are:

  • Safe, secure and well supported;
  • Healthy;
  • Doing well at school;
  • Motivated to access Further or Higher Education, training or employment;
  • Enjoying activities and interests;
  • Well prepared for adult life and encouraged to become good citizens.

Corporate parents are no different and need to do the same.

For Corporate Parenting to be effective it needs a commitment from all elected members and council employees in a council-wide approach. It involves the whole council and its partners acting as a good parent, committing resources and working together to improve the lives of all children and young people in care and care leavers. It is about prioritising their needs, listening to what they want and supporting them to make the most of their lives.

As corporate parents, members, officers and partners need to ask 2 questions:

“If this was my child, would this be good enough for them?”

“If I was a child or young person, would this be good enough for me?”

The purpose of this strategy is to outline council-wide roles and responsibilities as corporate parents and to make sure we all work together to achieve the best outcomes for our children and young people in care and care leavers.

Children’s Services is ultimately accountable for achieving these best outcomes but Corporate Parenting responsibilities extend to:

  • All Brighton and Hove City Council departments and partner agencies;
  • Sussex Community NHS Trust;
  • Sussex Police;
  • Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust;
  • Schools and Further Education colleges;
  • Voluntary, community and independent organisations.

A good corporate parent must offer the same as any good parent and improving the role of the corporate parent is key to improving all outcomes for our children. This relies on addressing the difficulties children and young people in care experience and the challenges of parenting within a complex system of different services.  It is also important that the children and young people themselves have the opportunity to shape and influence the parenting they receive.

While good parenting requires continuity, organisations by their nature are continuously changing.  Elected members and employees move on and structures, procedures and partnerships are modified and refined.  One challenge of being a good corporate parent is to manage these changes while giving each individual child and young person a sense of stability.

The children and young people for whom we are corporate parents are talented, resourceful, articulate, have huge potential and many will lead successful adult lives.  However, often as a result of their early life experiences some do not reach their full potential and this contributes to them being over-represented as adults:

  • With few formal educational qualifications;
  • Who become homeless;
  • In the criminal justice system and prison population;
  • Not engaged in employment, education or training;
  • Using mental health services;
  • Involved in anti-social behaviour;
  • Involved in substance misuse.

However considerable research, notably from Professors Mike Stein at York and Bob Broad at Loughborough Universities shows that from often poor starting points:

  • The majority of children and young people successfully move on from a stable care experience when they have consistent and relatively low level support;
  • Many more will do well in adult life if they receive skilled and intensive support while in care;
  • And only a vulnerable minority will continue to need targeted support well into adulthood.

It is useful to bear in mind these three distinct groups when commissioning, delivering, measuring and monitoring services to children and young people in care and care leavers.


2. Aims and Objectives of the Strategy

Corporate Parenting should operate at strategic, operational and individual levels with 3 key elements:

  • A statutory duty detailed in the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 on all parts of a local authority to co-operate in promoting the welfare of children and young people in care and a duty on other partners and agencies to co-operate in fulfilling that duty;
  • Co-ordinating the activities of the many different professionals and carers who are involved in a child or young person’s life and taking a strategic, child-centred approach to the delivery of services;
  • Shifting the emphasis from 'corporate' to 'parenting‘ which means doing what a good parent would do to promote and support the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of a child from infancy to adulthood.

The objective of this Strategy is to ensure the Corporate Parenting responsibilities for all elected members and council employees are clearly outlined so that:

  • Elected members have a clear understanding and awareness of the needs of our children in care and care leavers and ensure their responsibilities as corporate parents are reflected in all aspects of the Council’s work;
  • All services play a part in delivering Corporate Parenting and continually monitoring and reviewing what their services contribute to improving outcomes for children in care and care leavers;
  • The Corporate Parenting commitment leads to measurable improvement in the life chances of children in care and care leavers so these are in line with their peers;
  • Communication between elected members and senior officers and children in care and care leavers ensures they have a say in how decisions are made about services affecting them and are able to influence those decisions. Mechanisms should be in place which detail how feedback is given to young people and what impact their views may have had;
  • Partnership working and joint planning and commissioning is promoted as an effective means of delivering effective services;
  • Monitoring, auditing and accountability of Corporate Parenting duties are in place and is effective.


3. Strategic Responsibilities

The responsibilities as corporate parents require everyone working with or on behalf of our children and young people in care and care leavers to contribute directly or indirectly to improving outcomes in their health and well-being, safety and future and help them become positively contributing, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

3.1 Promoting their health and well-being

These children and young people may have additional health needs caused by earlier abuse or neglect and these must be taken into account to improve.

their life chances.  It is important that any impairments or disabilities are identified as soon as possible after coming into care so that early and appropriate interventions can be offered.  While promoting physical and sexual health and emotional well-being are priority actions, preventive strategies including encouragement to a healthy lifestyle and of leisure interests are also most important.  To achieve this dual objective corporate parents should:

  • Promote children and young people’s health, well-being and leisure activities;
  • Ensure their physical health is as good as possible and they receive treatment as required;
  • Ensure their oral health is as good as possible, they are routinely seen by a dentist and receive any necessary treatment;
  • Ensure their sight is as good as possible, they are routinely seen by an optician and supplied with glasses, lenses or other treatment if required;
  • Ensure their hearing is as good as possible and they are assessed and treated as required;
  • Address their specific needs arising from any disability or degenerative condition to achieve the best possible quality of life;
  • Ensure they have access to information about personal relationships and sexual health in line with their age and understanding and they are supported to access specialist services if required;
  • Ensure a dedicated access pathway for mental health, substance misuse and teenage parent services is in place;
  • Advocate across health agencies on their needs and ensure all health agencies and partners deliver services promptly and effectively;
  • Encourage and support them access leisure, play, sports, educational and cultural activities.  These should reflect the needs of their gender, ability and disability, religion or belief, ethnicity, sexual identity and age.

3.2 Keeping them safe

Many children and young people come into care as a result of not being safe from physical and sexual harm and neglect while living at home. We need to be sure that they live in safe, secure and nurturing placements that provide continuity and stability and as they move towards adulthood they have access to safe, secure and affordable permanent accommodation. To achieve this objective corporate parents should:

  • Ensure every child has a Care Plan and it is regularly reviewed by their Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Regularly audit performance on placement stability and distance placed from home;
  • Ensure every child and young person is free from abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination;
  • Monitor and review the quality of in-house and agency foster care and residential homes providers and how they meet care standards and diversity needs;
  • Make sure ‘unregulated’ placements (ie those not governed by Fostering or Children’s Homes Regulations) are covered by service level agreements;
  • Make sure that inter-agency ‘missing from care’ procedures are robust, clearly understandable and enforced;
  • Ensure formal arrangements are in place to meet the housing and support needs of care leavers;
  • Ensure deliverable protocols are in place for those young people involved in the criminal justice system and remanded into custody.

3.3 Invest in their future

This is possibly the most important contribution those involved in Corporate Parenting can make as it is about investing in children’s futures. Children and young people in care often have poorer educational outcomes than their peers. However, we must move away from the assumption that this is an inevitable consequence of their often disadvantaged backgrounds. What it does mean is that we need to invest in specific and targeted additional support to improve these outcomes.  Interventions may also be required which relate to their ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual identity etc that would otherwise detrimentally affect their education and life chances.  

To achieve this objective corporate parents should:

  • Ensure every child and young person regularly attends school and achieves their full potential in line with their age and ability;
  • Regularly report on performance of educational attainment at Key Stages 2, 4 and 5, the statutory completion of Personal Education Plans (PEP’s) and the timely completion of Personal Opportunity Plans (the post-16 PEP);
  • Report on school admissions, attendance and exclusions (fixed term and permanent);
  • Ensure Designated Teachers are established and effective in all schools;
  • Ensure pathways to key initiatives such as early years and extended services, out of school activities and 14-19 providers are in place and effective;
  • Be confident that appropriate support is in place to ensure a smooth transition to Further and Higher Education.

3.4 Be Positively Contributing

The involvement and participation of children and young people is key to the success of any Corporate Parenting strategy.  We must support them to engage in law abiding and socially acceptable activity and behaviour, develop positive relationships by choosing not to bully or discriminate and develop self-confidence and self esteem to enable them to deal successfully with significant life changes and challenges. 

The key aim is to ensure that they are listened to and participate in the planning and development of the services they receive. To achieve this objective corporate parents should ensure:

  • Children and young people are aware of and contribute to plans for their future, appropriate to their age and development;
  • Children understand the effects of discrimination and are able to challenge such behaviour;
  • They report on children’s participation in Statutory Reviews;
  • Children contribute to their assessments and their identified needs are accurately represented in their statutory reviews;
  • When support workers and mentors are involved, importance is given to providing role models that reflect gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual identity etc;
  • The development and influence on decision making of the Children in Care Council is effective;
  • The views and opinions of a wide range of children and young people are gathered and it can be evidenced these have an impact on service design and delivery;
  • Children know how to make a complaint, are able to easily contact an Advocate and get fair outcomes from this process regardless of their legally protected characteristics;
  • Mechanisms are in place to see that the promises in the Pledge are delivered. The Brighton and Hove Pledge is a set of promises that the council, as with all local authorities in England makes to children and young people in care and care leavers. 

See ’The Pledge (Our Promises to You)’.

3.5 Be confident individuals and responsible citizens

Children and young people in care often find it more difficult than their peers to attain a good standard of living as adults.  We need to promote and provide work experience, work placements, training, apprenticeships and employment opportunities within the council and with all employers and to continue to ensure that these care leavers are fully supported to move positively into adulthood. 

To achieve this objective corporate parents should ensure:

  • Children and young people can access clear information about their rights and entitlements particularly at key points in their lives and are given support.

to challenge decisions which they feel are unfair with the help of their Carer, Social Worker or Advocate.

  • Monitoring of performance in education, employment and training and suitability of housing for 18-21 year old care leavers;
  • Development of partnerships to improve access to and support in Further and Higher Education;
  • They advocate for and provide work experience and employment opportunities within Brighton and Hove City Council and its partner agencies and for this to consider any additional needs of young people with legally protected characteristics;
  • They promote the needs of care leavers for work experience, training and job opportunities with employers and employer organisations in the city;
  • That care leavers have access to safe, secure and affordable accommodation.


4. Conclusion

There is no single or simple answer to improving outcomes for all children and young people in care and care leavers. There is a need for thorough knowledge of the profile and legally protected characteristics of the care population and a range of appropriate strategies. Our aim must be to ensure that our care and support and commitment to securing improved outcomes for children and young people in care and care leavers becomes fully and permanently embedded in the culture of children’s and all council and partner services. There are few other specific issues of higher priority for the local authority than caring for the children and young people for which Brighton and Hove City Council has a degree of Parental Responsibility.


5. Evaluation and Review of the Strategy

The strategy will be disseminated to all stakeholders in Autumn 2013. It will be evaluated and reviewed during 2013-14 by the Children in Care Quality Assurance Group with the participation of children and young people and carers. A progress review report will be then be made available in Autumn 2014.

End