Caring for our children and young people: corporate parenting update 2018 to 2021

Second national report on corporate parenting by Scottish Ministers. In this 2018 to 2021 report, we provide an overview of corporate parents’ activities over the last three years, and how they have delivered their duties to support children and young people with care experience.

Chapter 1: Introduction


This is the second national report on corporate parenting by Scottish Ministers to the Scottish Parliament. There is a statutory requirement for Ministers to report to the Scottish Parliament on how they have exercised their corporate parenting responsibilities every three-years. The first report, Turning legislation into practice together: First Report on Corporate Parenting Activity in Scotland April 2015–March 2018, was published in June 2018.

In this 2018-21 report, we provide an overview of corporate parents’ activities over the last three years, and how they have delivered their duties to support children and young people with care experience. Throughout the report, we highlight many examples of creative, collaborative and child and young person focused activities but also identify opportunities for further improvement across the sector. We hope that corporate parents will use the information to work more closely together and to share and use ideas and examples of good practice, so that together, we continue to drive improvements in the outcomes for children and young people with experience of care.

Methodology and Report Structure

To undertake this review, we wrote to Scotland’s corporate parents to ask that they provide (i) their corporate parenting plan(s) and report(s) covering the 2018-21 reporting period; and (ii) their response to our survey which asked them about their corporate parenting activities over the 2018-21 period. We thank corporate parents for the quality and comprehensiveness of their responses, recognising that this would have taken colleagues across all organisations time to complete. We have then used the vast amount of rich information provided within the submitted plans, surveys and (to a lesser extent) reports to produce this report.

We have organised the report under the following chapters.

Chapter 2

We set out the wider and changing policy landscape in which corporate parenting operates, and we remind ourselves of the key findings from the 2015-2018 review

Chapters 3 to 8

We present the corporate parenting activities delivered by different groupings of corporate parents between 2018 and 2021. Chapter 3 sets out the Scottish Government’s activities, and is then followed by chapters that respectively outline the activities of local authorities, universities, colleges, health boards, and national bodies

Chapter 9

We first consider the factors that enabled and inhibited organisations in advancing their corporate parenting activities, before setting out what corporate parents view as their future priorities into 2021-2024

Chapter 10

We aim to assess the impact of Scotland’s corporate parenting activities on our care experienced children and young people, using nationally available statistical indicators to do so

Chapter 11

We conclude by considering the key learning from this review of the 2018-21 corporate parenting activities and setting out some key areas for future development and improvement as we continuously seek to better support care experienced children and young people

We have written the report with the aim that it becomes a useful learning resource for corporate parents. This means that:

1. We have organised Chapters 3 to 8 under the six Section 58 duties of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014: Alert, Assess, Promote, Opportunities, Access and Improve. We recognise that many activities cover more than one duty, and organising activities in this manner may feel artificial and subjective, but we believe this approach helps to provide examples of how corporate parents can strengthen how they fulfil each of their duties.

2. We have highlighted key points of learning and good practice examples via the use of ‘Spotlights’ and ‘Learning Points’. The ‘Spotlights’ in particular aim to bring the activities and duties to life using a selection of real-life, illustrative examples of what corporate parents can and have put in place. However, these should not be read as a definitive or exhaustive list of all activities that have been progressed.

We recognise that this is a detailed report, however, it is an accurate reflection of the time, energy and detail that corporate parents have given to their responses. Readers may choose to read the chapter(s) most relevant to their needs and context and we hope that the report becomes a useful tool for learning and collaboration amongst Scotland’s corporate parents.

We have also published, as an appendix to this report, our review of the Corporate Parenting Plans prepared by Scotland’s corporate parent organisations. Specifically, this appendix includes a review of whether plans contained the duties of corporate parents, an action plan of intended activities and outcomes, and details surrounding plans’ governance and review arrangements and engagement with children and young people.

The key audience for this report are Scotland’s corporate parenting organisations and, indeed, we recognise that the information used within this report predominantly comes from corporate parent organisations and not from children and young people with care experience. However, it is important to recognise that evidence has been routinely sought from children and young people through various consultation discussions, Champions Boards and most prominently during the Independent Care Review. For the 2021-2024 report, we will adapt the methodology used to carry out the review so that children and young people are central contributors to the report and its findings.

We have worked with children, young people and Who Cares? Scotland to produce an alternative version of this report and other accessible resources for children and young people so that they can equally understand the corporate parenting activities which have been delivered in 2018-21, how these have benefited children and young people with care experience, and what future changes and improvements are needed.

A Note about Language

The Independent Care Review completed its work during the three-year period covered by this report, with publication of The Promise in 2020. One of the Independent Care Review’s findings was about language. The use of ‘corporate parent’ as a term was specifically highlighted as potentially demeaning and an example of cold, process-driven relationships. The Independent Care Review avoided use of ‘corporate parent’ and emphasised the importance of Scotland being a ‘good parent’ for those it is responsible for.

Corporate parent is the term used in Scotland to refer to organisations (and individuals who work for them) who have a legal duty to respond to and support the care and protection needs of all children and young people. Their duties are laid out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. In Scotland corporate parents and their duties are set out in legislation. We have therefore continued to use the term corporate parent in this report, given its statutory nature.

Looked after and looked after child are the terms used in current legislation to refer to a child or young person with care and protection needs who is cared for under a formal arrangement with a local authorities. Children who are looked after are either ‘looked after at home’ (living with a parent in their home) or ‘looked after away from home’, for example, by kinship carers, foster carers or residential care.

Contact is the term used in legislation to refer to formal arrangements made for when children in need of care and protection spend time with important people in their lives who they are not living with at that time.

Placement is the word used in legislation to refer to the place where a child is being cared for away from the care of their parents.

Siblings is the word used in the Children (Scotland) Act 2020. It refers to the relationship where two or more children have one or both parents in common, or where they have lived together and have an ongoing relationship which is like this. This is also referred to in the Staying Together and Connected: Getting it Right for Sisters and Brothers guidance as sibling-like. Where possible, brothers’ and/or ‘sisters has been used.

Carers refers to anyone over the age of sixteen who is providing care for a child either formally (having an order through the court or a children’s hearing) or informally (no order from a court or a children’s hearing). A carer who does not have parental rights and responsibilities is still responsible for doing all that is reasonable to safeguard the child’s health, development and welfare.

A care leaver is a young person who ceased to be looked after on, or at any time after, their sixteenth birthday.



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