02 / WHAT DO CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLENEED FROM THEIR CORPORATE FAMILY?
Children and young people need the same from their corporate family as they need from their birth family - security, safety, positive regard, support and boundaries.
How those things are provided will be different when a child or young person is Looked After, but it is important that we do all that we can to make their lives as "normal" as possible. The recurring theme which emerges from consultation with children, young people and adults who have been in care in the past, is the difference that one individual can make. Those individuals can come into contact with the young person in a variety of ways - a teacher, a residential care worker,a foster carer, a project worker, a friend's parent - but what matters is that they care, they take an interest in and believe in the young person and persevere through challenging times.
Each section of this guidance opens with the view of a young person which helps to remind us that each "case" is an individual person for whom we can make a difference. While the focus of this guidance is very much on agencies and professionals working effectively together, and that must involve robust policies, procedures, record-keeping and other activity which may seem bureaucratic but it is essential, children and young people remind us that they are not files - they are real people!
The message is to behave corporately, but think like a parent. In the words of care leavers:
"By listening, talking and including the young person in the decision-making process as regards education plans and extra support, you will help to engage them and make them feel more at ease. Something as simple as offering a word of encouragement or praise can be the best motivator; making the young person feel that there is someone who values them and cares about their welfare can make all the difference."
"I expect a corporate parent to be someone you can feel comfortable talking to: a person who understands you and is willing to help you with different problems that you may be having. It is important for the heads of care to know the views of young people in care, that way they will be able to make decisions and plan ahead knowing what young people in care want."
"Communication [is needed] between everyone involved, that's parents, teachers, guardians, social workers all need to be involved … so that if any problems arise, everybody knows what they are."