Statutory guidance on Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Guidance issued by Scottish Ministers under section 63 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to provide corporate parents with information and advice.

Appendix B: Policy Context

176. From the 1990s there has been a growing interest, across the United Kingdom, in the concept of 'corporate parenting' for looked after children and care leavers'. This has been in recognition of the persistently poor outcomes experienced by this group, and the legal and moral responsibilities of the state to support children who have experienced adversity. This includes enhancing children's quality of life, as well as simply keeping them safe.

177. Given real impetus by the UK government's Quality Protects programme (launched in 1998), corporate parenting began to take on a more defined shape, with policy and guidance prescribing certain actions for public bodies beyond local authority children's services. The Every Child Matters agenda, in particular, emphasised the obligation of public bodies to work together to improve outcomes for looked after children and care leavers, on the basis of their shared duties as 'corporate parents'. But while documents such as If this were my child - A guide for councillors [13] (2003) and Learning with Care (2001) [14] were made increasingly available, a 2006 report from the Social Work Inspection Agency found that, in Scotland, the concept was still not sufficiently understood or applied, and that as a result children were not enjoying the benefits that corporate parenting promised. [15]

178. In 2007 the Scottish Government published the conclusions of a Ministerial Working Group which had been set up to examine how to improve the educational outcomes of looked after children. In We Can and Must Do Better, this working group highlighted the critical importance of the corporate parent role: 'It is essential that the individuals and agencies who form the corporate parent for Scotland's looked after children and young people are more aware and alert to their children's needs and work together to deliver for them'. [16]

179. Responding to the report's recommendations, the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities published These Are Our Bairns: A guide for community planning partnerships on being a good corporate parent (2008). This provided corporate parents with a guide to their roles and responsibilities, and highlighted the opportunities for improving children's wellbeing within the many services delivered by community planning partners, and the wider community. Councils, in particular, have successfully used this guidance to develop local action plans and protocols, bringing looked after children and young people into conversations with elected members and senior managers to consider how services can be proactive, and make a difference in children's lives.

180. Subsequent developments in Scotland served to underline the importance of corporate parenting across schools and health. The 2009 amendment of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act 2004, which required education authorities to consider all looked after children as having additional support needs unless assessed otherwise, attempts to address the fact that this population often has a disrupted educational experience and significant additional needs, but not always the advocates to obtain the necessary additional support. Also in 2009, the Chief Executives of Scotland's NHS Boards received a letter from the Scottish Government's Director of Healthcare Policy and Strategy, requiring each health board to undertake a number of specific actions in relation to looked after children. [17] In 2014 the Scottish Government published Guidance on Health Assessments for Looked after Children and Young People, for all NHS health boards. This stated clearly that: 'as a corporate parent, NHS Boards should view the looked after children's health assessment as an opportunity to assess an individual's overall health and wellbeing, including behavioural and emotional development and risk taking behaviour'. [18]

181. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and this accompanying guidance, represent the next step in the ongoing development of corporate parenting in Scotland. The range of corporate parents has been extended and the duties formalised, but the objective remains the same: to take whatever actions are necessary to promote and support the physical, emotional, spiritual, social and educational development of a looked after child or care leaver, from their infancy through to adulthood.


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