1.1 There are over 16,000 children and young people being looked after by local authorities in Scotland. This includes children and young people who live at home with parents under supervision, and those who live away from home with foster or kinship carers, in residential care homes, residential schools or secure units.
1.2 Corporate parenting is described as: "The formal partnership needed between all local authority departments and services and associated agencies, which are responsible for working together to meet the needs of looked after children and young people" (We Can And Must Do Better: Scottish Executive, January 2007).
1.3 The Scottish Government (SG) is committed to ensuring that corporate parents are provided with the necessary help and advice to ensure they can meet the needs and aspirations of the children they look after.
1.4 Since 2010 the Scottish Government has been funding Who Cares? Scotland to develop and deliver a national corporate parenting training programme. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness among corporate parents about their responsibilities so they can improve the support they give to young people in and leaving care.
1.5 To date, Who Cares? Scotland have delivered 66 training sessions to over 1,300 participants, including over 400 Elected Members and over 70 health board directors. This training course is due to complete in March 2013. There is the potential for a second phase of this training programme which, if commissioned, would have a focus on officials within the wider public sector (eg those in the police, health services, voluntary agencies).
1.6 The Scottish Government commissioned an independent evaluation of the National Corporate Parenting training programme, with a focus on the impact of the programme to date. Specific key objectives for the evaluation were to:
- Evaluate the impact of the training programme on attendees in terms of any increase in awareness of their role as corporate parents, their responsibilities and duties as corporate parents, and their understanding of the experience of looked after children in their area.
- Assess the impact of the training provided; its value / usefulness; changes within their organisation as a result of the training.
- Explore how the training has been used in their area and what changes this has bought about to looked after children in their area.
- Ascertain how well the training programme has delivered on the expected outputs and outcomes.
- Consider the overall impact of the programme.
- Consider the perceived value of a second phase of the programme, together with how it would be delivered, who it would be delivered to and what it would cover.
This report presents the findings from a qualitative and online quantitative evaluation carried out by Why Research between December 2012 and February 2013.
1.7 Two strands of research were conducted: qualitative face-to-face or telephone discussions with individuals who had participated in the training; and a short online survey. The qualitative work took place between December 2012 and February 2013. The online survey was conducted in January 2013. Copies of the topic guide and online questionnaire have been appended to this report.
1.8 Qualitative research took the form of focus groups, mini-focus groups, face-to-face in-depth interviews and in-depth telephone interviews. A number of local authorities were approached with a request to participate in this evaluation. These were selected to provide a geographic spread and ensure a mix of city, urban and rural authorities. Of the eight who were contacted, four were unable to help with this evaluation; either because of time restrictions or because the training had taken place prior to the last election, where significant numbers of Elected Members who had attended the training were then not re-elected. Four different local authority areas were selected: Glasgow; Dumfries and Galloway; Renfrewshire and Edinburgh. Who Cares? Scotland provided copies of the training materials used for reference as prompts during the face-to-face discussions.
1.9 The Scottish Government facilitated contact with the person who had organised the Who Cares? Scotland training in each area. These contacts either provided the names of those who had attended corporate parenting training sessions to Why Research for recruitment, or arranged discussions for the researchers with Elected Members, partners and others who had attended the training.
1.10 The original plan was to include a small number of non-attendees (Elected Members and others who had not attended the training) in the overall sample to provide a comparator group. However, because in most instances lists of attendees were not directly available to Why Research, it was not possible to make contact with non-attendees to recruit them to attend discussions.
1.11 The following table shows the sample of qualitative respondents:
Table 1.1: Qualitative sample
|Area||Training session(s) held||Elected Members||Others|
|Dumfries and Galloway||March and May 2011||5||7|
|Glasgow||May and June 2011||6||-|
|Renfrewshire||2011 and November 2012||-||4|
|Edinburgh||2011 and December 2012||-||3|
|Total Number of respondents||11||14|
1.12 The quantitative research was conducted by way of a short online survey. Contacts in every area in which training had taken place were asked to disseminate the link to the survey to those who had taken part in a training session.
1.13 Questions were mainly closed, tick box, questions, although respondents were given the opportunity to comment further on the training if they wished to do so.
1.14 A total of 58 respondents replied to the survey; however 4 of these had not attended a training session and therefore did not continue through the survey. Table 1.2 shows the profile of the 54 respondents who had attended one of the sessions and who completed the questionnaire in full.
Table 1.2 Quantitative sample
|Area||Elected Member||Senior staff||Frontline staff||Other||TOTAL|
|NHS Ayrshire and Arran||1||-||-||-||1|
|Other (e.g. CELCIS or one of Scotland's colleges)||-||1||-||6||7|
|Total Number of respondents||18||18||3||15||54|
1.15 Respondents in the 'Other' group in the table above include central government staff and staff from colleges or from other agencies such as Skills Development Scotland.
1.16 Respondents participating in the online survey were also asked their role in relation to looked after children and the majority were at a strategic or policy level. A full breakdown was:
- Policy context: 26
- Strategic / financial decision making / planning: 17
- Point of contact decision making / planning: 1
- Face to face / frontline involvement: 3
- Other: 7
1.17 Most online respondents (43 from 54) remembered the sessions as lasting between one and two hours or two to three hours. Most (45 out of 54) felt the time commitment was just enough, although two felt it was too much and five not enough. Two respondents did not reply at this question.
1.18 The following chapters present the findings from the qualitative interviews and the online survey and examine the motivations and expectations of those attending the training sessions, views of the training, the impact of the training and future delivery of the training programme.
Email: Alison Melville
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