Corporate Parenting is the term used to describe the collective responsibility of the Council towards looked after children and care leavers. Supporting young people leaving care in Scotland: regulations and guidance (Scottish Executive, 2004) explains it as follows:
"This means that the local authority should look after these children as any other parents would look after their own children... The role of corporate parent is not restricted to the Social Work department of the local authority but applies to all departments and agencies, who should recognise their own responsibility to promote the welfare of looked after [children and] young people and ensure that their needs are adequately addressed..."
The Scottish Executive guidance (January 2007), Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better provides the following definition:
"...the formal and local partnerships needed between all Local Authority departments and services and associated agencies who are responsible for working together to meet the needs of looked after children and young people"
The visions for these children also incorporate the visions for 'Getting it Right for every Child', in that every child and young person should be Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, and Included. This focus on the child or young persons holistic needs places North Ayrshire's aspirations for Looked after children in line with the aspirations for all other children, introducing an element of normalisation which reinforces the vision that we should 'look after these children as any other parents would look after their own children'.
What do we mean by 'Looked After'
Children and Young People, who for a variety of reasons cannot live at home, or are living at home and a Children's Hearing has decided that there is a need for a specific order to be in place (also known as a Supervision Requirement) are termed as 'Looked After'.
Most of them need care and protection, resulting from parental neglect, abuse, or because they have complex disabilities. A small minority become Looked After as a result of offending behaviour.
Children and Young People who are Looked After can live in a number of settings including living at home where a Supervision Order is in force. Other settings include with Foster Carers, in a children's unit with other young people, living on their own with support, and when agreed with the Local Authority, living with friends or relatives.
What we are trying to do?
The Key factor in what we are trying to do is that we are collectively working to look after these children and young people as any other parents would look after their own children. This means assisting these children and young people to realise their potential in all areas of their lives, including making sure they are safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included.
How are we doing this?
There is lots of activity already going on to achieve this and more planned in the future. We are focusing on 4 areas where we have committed to help young people who are looked after. These are to help them to :-
- Feel Safe and Nurtured in a Home Setting
- Develop into Successful & Responsible Adults
- Become Effective Life Long Learners, and
- Being Emotionally, Mentally & Physically Healthy