As Minister for Children and Young People, I am so proud to be a Corporate Parent, a role I take very seriously. One of my duties is to present the first corporate parenting Report to the Scottish Parliament; detailing how we have fulfilled our collective duties under Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
I am privileged to have inherited this landmark policy as part of my portfolio and I know that this Act is one of the most collaborative pieces of legislation to come before our Parliament. I am also committed to driving improvements for those who experience care, now and in years to come, by ensuring all new policies and future legislation benefit from the lived experiences of Scotland's young people.
In the three years since commencement of Part 9, the 124 individuals and organisations listed as Corporate Parents have worked hard to understand how to meaningfully understand their duties in their own contexts and how best to adopt them into every day practice and culture. This ambitious undertaking was designed to be a work in progress but already we have risen to the challenges of collaboration, co-design and co-production breaking new ground across Government and the wider public sector in Scotland towards continuous improvement in support of our care experienced children and young people. One of the most powerful illustrations is where Corporate Parenting Boards have been established to bring young people and adults together to explore, discuss and plan how services are shaped and delivered. Already experience shows that this approach is a meaningful and straightforward way to uphold rights and improve outcomes.
This Act gives us all a great opportunity to meet our collective primary objective; that is, to ensure our children and young people do not face additional barriers because of care experience.
Since taking up this post, I have seen and heard directly how dedicated Corporate Parents are ensuring that children and young people are supported and encouraged and that their rights are fully understood. We are required by law to evidence this commitment and to consider together how to address the challenge of embedding real culture change across all aspects of the public sector. The best measure of real culture change is, of course, feedback from children and young people with lived experience of the care system being taken on board and used to improve how services are designed and delivered to have the best impact.
Children and young people have told me they 'want to know who their Corporate Parents are' and that they want 'to be treated as equals'. Hundreds of care experienced young people have found a voice through their participation in Champions Boards and know they have influenced decision making in areas of real importance to them.
For me personally, corporate parenting is quite simply about doing what any good parent should do for a child. It is about being there for our children, listening to them, understanding what they need, helping them to develop life skills and reach their own personal goals. As with parenting, this sometimes requires negotiation to share the care and pull on each other's strengths; but always to work together encouraging and supporting children as much as possible to grow and develop into happy, healthy and active citizens.
This first Report from Scottish Ministers sets out an overview of planning approaches, collaborative working and improving practice; it also acknowledges the inevitable challenges and creative approaches taken towards implementing such an ambitious policy.
I want to thank all the children and young people who offered personal reflections on the impact of corporate parenting over the last three years. In addition, the updates provided to me gave essential insight to each organisation's unique experience of their roles and responsibilities. No Report can of course reflect all the detail but rather, I intend to illustrate the breadth of activity across Scotland and offer honest accounts from those with experience of care and Corporate Parents of some key challenges and improvements identified along the way.
Together, we can make Scotland the best place to grow up.
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