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.


Section 56: Corporate Parents

32. All persons and organisations listed, or within a description listed, in schedule 4 of the Act are 'corporate parents' for the purposes of Part 9. Unless explicitly stated in the legislation, corporate parents are subject to all the duties detailed in this guidance.

33. At the date of the commencement (1 April 2015) the persons and organisations listed in schedule 4 are:

The Scottish Ministers A local authority A health board
Children's Hearings Scotland The Principal Reporter The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
A "post-16 education body" for the purposes of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 A board constituted under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 Skills Development Scotland Co. Ltd (registered number SC 202659)
The National Convener of Children's Hearings Scotland The Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland
The Scottish Social Services Council The Scottish Sports Council The chief constable of the Police Service of Scotland
Healthcare Improvement Scotland The Scottish Police Authority The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
The Scottish Legal Aid Board The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland The Scottish Housing Regulator
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Creative Scotland The Scottish Qualifications Authority

Explanation of terms used in schedule 4

34. The term "Scottish Ministers" refers to the Scottish Government and its Executive Agencies. All Scottish Ministers, and the directorates for which they are responsible, are corporate parents. Executive Agencies are organisations set up to perform a specific task(s) by the Scottish Government, reporting directly to Ministers. As such, all Executive Agencies will be subject to the corporate parenting duties set out in Part 9. The Scottish Government's Executive Agencies are Accountant in Bankruptcy, Disclosure Scotland, Education Scotland, Historic Scotland, Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Public Pensions Agency, Student Awards Agency for Scotland, and Transport Scotland. [6]

35. Scottish Ministers are exempt from the duties set out in sections 61 - 64. Executive Agencies are also exempt from these sections of Part 9, but due to their accountability to Ministers, Executive Agencies are still expected to fulfil the duties prescribed in Part 9 of the Act. Executive Agencies will be asked to provide information to Scottish Ministers about how they have exercised their corporate parenting responsibilities. It is therefore advised that Executive Agencies implement Part 9 in full, having regard to all parts of this guidance.

36. The term "a health board" refers to Scotland's fourteen territorial health boards, responsible for the protection and the improvement of their population's health and for the delivery of frontline healthcare services.

37. The term "a board constituted under section 2(1)(b) of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978" refers to the six special health boards which provide a range of national or specialist services in Scotland. These are NHS Education for Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, NHS National Waiting Times Centre, NHS 24, Scottish Ambulance Service and the State Hospitals Board for Scotland. [7]

38. The term 'a body which is a "post-16 education body" for the purposes of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005' refers to colleges and higher education institutions (including all universities) in Scotland who are financed (in whole or part) by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council. The term "post-16 education body" was introduced into the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005 by the 'Modifications of Enactments' included in the Post-16 Education (Scotland) Act 2013. The modified 2005 Act now includes the definition that a "post-16 education body" means "any fundable post-16 education body". These bodies are listed in schedule 2 of the 2005 Act. The list includes all colleges, universities and other higher education institutions currently operating in Scotland. All colleges, universities and higher education institutions are therefore corporate parents, subject to the duties (excluding section 64) set out in Part 9 of the Act and detailed in this guidance.

Modifications and Exemptions

39. Under section 56(2) Scottish Ministers may, by order, modify schedule 4. This means that Scottish Ministers can add, delete or amend entries to the list of corporate parents.

40. Section 56(4) provides for certain corporate parents to be exempted from the duty to follow directions issued by Scottish Ministers (as laid out in section 64). This exemption applies to:

  • the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland ( SCCYP);
  • a body which is a "post-16 education body" for the purposes of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005.

41. Section 56(5) gives Scottish Ministers the power, when adding persons to schedule 4 by order under section 56(2), to extend this exemption to new corporate parents.

Schedule 4: A whole organisation responsibility

42. Corporate parenting is not a task which can be delegated to an individual or team. Inclusion in schedule 4 means that the whole organisation (or the staff who support the individual listed) is responsible for fulfilling the corporate parenting duties set out in Part 9.

43. The purpose and intention of Part 9 is to improve how organisations as a whole support looked after children and care leavers. Implementation of this Part must be led by senior management across all departments, regardless of their focus or function. Staff at all levels must understand their duties, and be supported and enabled to fulfil them. In order to achieve this, it is recommended that each corporate parent review their induction and staff development processes to ensure that adequate opportunities are provided for staff to learn about looked after children and care leavers, and the specific responsibilities of their organisation as a corporate parent.

44. As corporate parenting is a corporate responsibility, an organisation's most senior corporate management will be held responsible for ensuring that the duties set out in Part 9 are met. Moreover, senior corporate management will be held accountable for an organisation's performance in respect to corporate parenting. Individuals involved in the governance of organisations ( i.e. councillors and independent Board members) have an important role in scrutinising the activity of senior management.

45. Please note that while responsibility for delivering a discreet service, support or opportunity (to a looked after children or care leaver) may be delegated to an external provider or integrated authority (such as a Health and Social Care Partnership), accountability for securing and promoting the rights and wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers remains firmly with the organisations and individuals listed in schedule 4 of the Act.

Corporate parents with a national or local focus

46. Part 9 does not make a distinction between corporate parents with a national or local focus. An organisation's corporate parenting duties therefore apply to all eligible children and young people, regardless of where the child or young person lives, or who they are formally looked after / provided with aftercare support by.

47. However, in practical terms it is likely that, where a corporate parent's functions are restricted to a specific administrative area within Scotland (such as a local authority or health board), corporate parenting duties will apply primarily to those looked after children and care leavers for whom they are responsible (under other legislation and guidance). In the case of a local authority, this means every child or young person whom is 'looked after' by them (under the definition on page 5 above), and every care leaver eligible for aftercare support from them, regardless of whether they live in or away from the local authority area). In the case of a territorial health board, corporate parenting responsibility would extend to the looked after children and care leavers who are ordinarily resident within the health board area. [8]

48. Where a corporate parent's functions relate to Scotland as a whole (rather than a specific administrative area), or the services provided by the corporate parent are available to children and young people from across Scotland, the duties set out in Part 9 apply to all Scottish looked after children and care leavers (those who are 'looked after' or 'care leavers' under Scottish legislation). Corporate parents in this category should give careful consideration to how they will fulfil their duties in respect to all eligible children, across all parts of Scotland.

Corporate parents who do not provide 'services and support'

49. While the duties set out in Part 9 apply equally to all corporate parents listed in schedule 4, their expression in practice will differ from corporate parent to corporate parent, reflecting the variety of functions represented by the organisations involved. One important factor shaping how these duties will be enacted is whether a corporate parent provides, in the exercise of their other functions, services and support directly to children and young people.

50. All of the individuals and organisations listed in schedule 4 are involved in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of children and young people. In different ways each provides a valuable service to the population of looked after children and young people. However, a number of corporate parents do not provide any services or support directly to children and young people, and instead fulfil functions related to scrutiny or administration. Critical as these functions are, they do not (in most instances) represent tangible "services or support" which can be accessed by individual looked after children and care leavers. In this guidance the term "services and support" therefore refers to the functions of an organisation which are available and accessible to individual children and young people, either independently or with the support of adults.

51. In this context it will not be possible for some corporate parents to "assess the needs" of individual eligible children and young people for services and support (section 58(1)(b)), or take action to help individual's access services and support (section 58(1)(e)). This does not mean that these corporate parents are exempted from such duties, but it is an acknowledgment that the manner in which these duties will be fulfilled is shaped and constrained by their other functions. For instance, where no "services or support" are provided directly to children and young people, corporate parents will be limited to undertaking a general assessment of the population's wellbeing needs. Although not equivalent to assessing specific individual young people, this general assessment is still essential, for it will not be possible for a corporate parent to fulfil their other Part 9 duties (such as seeking to provide opportunities designed to promote eligible children's wellbeing (section 58(1)(d)) or being alert to matters which might adversely affect children's wellbeing (section 58(1)(a)) without having undertaken a process of identifying and understanding eligible young people's needs.

52. Individual corporate parenting plans and reports are likely to differ significantly in their scope and emphasis, reflecting the abilities of corporate parents to realise specific Part 9 duties within the exercise of their other functions. But by including a wide range of individuals and organisations on schedule 4 the expectation is that, through meaningful collaboration, corporate parents collectively give real meaning to all of the duties set out in section 58 of the Act.


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