Corporate parenting - turning legislation into practice together: report

This report reflects on Scotland’s looked after children, young people and care leavers and how they have benefitted from corporate parenting support.

1) What is this Report on Corporate Parenting?

"Scotland wants to be a country that provides all children, no matter their circumstances, the best opportunities to grow, develop, and experience the same opportunities so that no individual child is disadvantaged or limited by disadvantage, neglect or poverty."
Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, 2012

"We are working hard to ensure that as a nation, we all understand the impact of ACEs and do what we can to mitigate these so that all children can be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors."
Maree Todd, Minister for Childcare and Early Years, 2018

This Report is based on information drawn from approximately 124 corporate parenting plans prepared by the 24 individuals and organisations named in Schedule 4 of The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 [1] (the 2014 Act). It offers an account of how corporate parenting has been embraced by the many different representative public sector individuals and organisations throughout Scotland and sets out to illustrate some of the different approaches to reflect the different statutory roles and unique circumstances of such a diverse group of organisations.

"We want our corporate parents to make changes for us when we need them" Care experienced young people 'asks' of Angus Council and NHS Tayside

Crucially, it reflects on Scotland's looked after children and young people and care leavers and how they have benefitted from this corporate parenting support. This Report does not summarise all the Plans or updates but a wealth of specific information can be found in individual published Plans which by requirement should be available on each Corporate Parent's website.

Corporate parenting is about listening to the needs, fears and wishes of children and young people, and being proactive and determined in our collective efforts to meet them. In other words, it is a role which should complement and support the actions of parents, families and carers, working with these key adults to deliver positive change for children and young people who need us to provide support.

Although all corporate parenting responsibilities and duties must be met, preparing this Report continues to highlight the particular importance of listening to care experienced children and young people, how this impacts on our ability to meet the crucial responsibility to assess their needs and where their voices have informed changes in practice and services. This Report emphasises the already established benefits of collaboration and demonstrates where adopting a collaborative approach has brought about a greater shared awareness of the inequalities care experienced children and young people face.

We know that many looked after children and care leavers experience some of the poorest personal outcomes of any group of children and young people in Scotland; current published statistics set out the facts. National Social Work statistics on looked after children [2] , other published data on their educational outcomes [3] and on-going work to address the issues such as mental health and homelessness in Scotland provide stark reading.

However, building and using such an evidence base is a key component to future policy development and without a doubt these data also include some encouraging improvements over recent years. On 31 July 2017 there were 14,897 looked after children in Scotland. This is the fifth consecutive year the numbers have decreased but represents some 2 percent of our population of children.

Figure 1 illustrates the proportion of children and young people in each care setting. Foster care and kinship care are the most common care settings, accounting for 35 percent and 28 percent respectively, as there is a continued decreasing trend in children being looked after at home and numbers of children looked after in residential care settings have been static at around 10 percent over recent years.

Figure 1, proportion of children and young people in each care setting, from National Social Work statistics on looked after children 2016-17
Figure 1, proportion of children and young people in each care setting, from National Social Work statistics on looked after children 2016-17

Since 2009, there has been a noticeable improvement in the proportion of school leavers with experience of care who have achieved one or more qualification at SCQF level 5 or better. This has more than doubled from 15% to 44% on 2016-17; but our young people with experience of care clearly describe the many day-to-day challenges that continue to hinder their progress towards reaching their full potential. This reminds us why we must work together as Corporate Parents to do more.

The 2014 Act provides an improved framework of support for looked after children and care leavers and Section 4 of this Report offers more detail on the wider context. The corporate parenting duties are part of a philosophy of care heavily reliant on building stable, supportive relationships. In this way, we encourage a much greater sense of belonging, help children and young people overcome adverse life experiences and encourage graduated transitions at a pace appropriate to individual needs. Some significant progress has been made by highlighting and addressing homelessness at the point of young people leaving care, but we must ensure absolutely nobody leaves care into homelessness and that fewer care experienced young people become homeless in the years to come.

The Scottish Government welcomed the recent Report on Homelessness [4] from the Local Government and Communities Committee and the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group [5] ( HARSAG) recommendations. Acting on these findings, and in parallel with Scotland's Independent Care Review [6] will help secure better outcomes and improve the quality of care for our young people based on what they have said works well and what does not.

"if you were to ask me to sum up what I consider to be my mission as First Minister, it would be this — the mission of making real progress towards genuine equality of opportunity. If we fail in that mission, not only will we be letting down our young people, but we will all be diminished. For every young person who cannot fulfil their potential, all of us lose out on the talent, ideas and initiative of someone who could be contributing so much to our society." First Minister, 15 th Kilbrandon Lecture 2017


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