3) What does Corporate Parenting mean to Corporate Parents?
"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." Scottish Government Consultation on the Children and Young People Bill 2012
"We made a commitment to ensure the views of care-experienced young people are considered when designing qualifications to meet their care needs. We aim to ensure their experiences and interests contribute to the thinking and design of Care qualifications for the Care sector. Where qualifications are being developed for the Care sector, people with care experience will now be invited to contribute to the development process. This will ensure their voice is heard and that the qualification takes due account of their care needs." Scottish Qualifications Authority
All organisations were asked to provide updates on how looked after children, young people and care leavers were involved in planning and organisational improvement and how their outcomes were being assessed to measure improvement. This Section illustrates the common themes emerging from updates provided by Corporate Parents on their published corporate parenting Plans. All Plans should be accessible through organisations' individual websites. Reassurance was also sought on how wellbeing needs of children and young people considered factors such as different age groups, gender, living arrangements, living with a disability and being respectful of cultural and religious beliefs. It is important that these issues be embedded in corporate parenting approaches, as well as any relevant geographical context.
Because day-to-day support needs to be entirely bespoke, Corporate Parents absolutely must embed the responsibility to assess the needs of looked after children and young people at every level within the organisation for there to be any meaningful and measurable impact. This is almost entirely dependent on engaging with those looked after children and care leavers and crucial for effective planning as Corporate Parents. For many organisations this is the embodiment of culture change, especially where the organisation is not concerned with direct delivery of services.
In addition to positive engagement methods already described, the updates provided by Corporate Parents demonstrate a range of success in reaching out to the local population and a common aspiration is to further increase effective engagement. In circumstances where a Corporate Parent does not know whether they support, employ or provide a service to any care experienced child or young people they should get the most out of positive collaboration by making contact with their looked after population through other, more front line, Corporate Parents to identify and consider local issues of importance.
Corporate Parents were asked to assess how eligible children interact with them individually or use services provided locally. Depending on the category of Corporate Parent, there were a number of approaches. For example, where data are already collected, quantitative information has been used to establish a baseline for engagement with looked after children and young people and care leavers. But for those with less front-facing roles, or organisations in the front line who reported difficulties in capturing specific views, the resources we have put in place through Who Cares? Scotland and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland ( CELCIS) will continue to offer support to maximise the positive effects of seeking input from the children and young people who are able to share their experiences. Although all the corporate parenting duties are equally important, any demonstrable improvement in support relies on credible assessment of need at an individual, local and national level.
"We are engaging with pupils from aged 10 and so have become more aware of factors which may impact their lives and take we have taken positive steps to overcome these barriers at an earlier stage of the learner journey." Shetland Islands Council
Most Post-16 education bodies have tracked students who have declared their status as care experienced, which has enabled individual supports to be put in place where required. This approach often highlighted gaps in information, which were evident across most corporate parenting categories. Many organisations recognised up front a need to be better at coordinating and collating the views of care experienced children and young people on an on-going basis to inform planning or improve communication more generally.
For example, City of Glasgow College Student Experience Strategy committed to ensuring "Individual needs are anticipated at every step of the student journey and are met in a proactive and meaningful way". The College has described how low engagement by care experienced students was tackled by moving away from focus groups to surveys and drop in student support services.
"We do this in a number of ways: Annual admissions review for full-time courses; Annual admissions review for part-time courses; Students First Impressions Questionnaire; Annual review of services; Student rep feedback; Statistical analysis of the numbers and profile of the students using our services. Annual service reviews." City of Glasgow College on assessing need/seeking views
"We evaluate the numbers declaring against those accessing support to see what can be improved with the service. We also carry out coordinated support plans with those who interact with the service in order to provide more targeted support." Inverness College UHI
Overall, local authorities were able to demonstrate on a number of levels how support for their care experienced population is monitored and assessed. For example, Fife Council undertake monthly file audits in each area team to review practice and outcomes for children and young people and to strengthen existing processes. East Ayrshire Children & Young People's Strategic Partnership and East Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership have established a range of baselines across services that are used to assess engagement and inform stretch aims. They also incorporated feedback from commissioned advocacy support delivered by Who Cares? Scotland, Action for Children's Turning the Corner service - for young people involved in or on the edge of offending - and Barnardo's Defuse service for families who have been affected by issues such as domestic violence or alcohol misuse.
However, this is the absolute minimum to be expected from such crucial frontline service providers. Corporate parenting Plans and updates describe a variety of systems for engaging children and young people to ensure services are alert to their needs. It is evident that most frontline services now consider it essential to routinely gather information on the needs of looked after children and care leavers as well as monitoring engagement and outcomes.
Towards that, many local authorities reference their Children's Services Plan. Statutory Guidance on Part 3 (Children's Services Planning)  of the 2014 Act was published by the Scottish Government in December 2016. It provides local authorities and health boards, working in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, with information and advice about how they should exercise the functions conferred by Part 3. Under these provisions, every Children's Services Plan must set out the range of high quality services available to children, young people and their families at the time they need them.
The importance of supporting children and young people in a way that includes their families and local communities resonates well with corporate parenting duties and principles. As part of our roles as Corporate Parents Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Government created a Corporate Parenting Champion to engage directly with Community Planning Partnerships ( CPPs)on policies including Children's Services Planning and as part of Scottish Government-wide engagement with partners.
"Meeting our collective corporate parenting responsibilities relies on effective communication and accountability across a whole range of organisations and services. As the Scottish Government Corporate Parent Champion I am leading the charge to respond to feedback from our partners and looking for opportunities to work with CPPs to examine the challenges in areas such as social work, health and education. One of my aims is to build capacity through strengthened relationships across Scotland." Iona Colvin, Scottish Government Chief Social Work Adviser and Corporate Parenting Champion
Future corporate parenting Plans and Reports will be well placed to build on the detail offered thus far. Corporate Parents across all categories were united in their commitment to measuring the impact of corporate parenting moving forward and enhance levels of engagement with looked after children and care leavers.
Helping our children and young people to see how much they can achieve, nurturing their ambition and seeing that ambition realised is a key responsibility for this Government, for Corporate Parents and for wider society.
"Ayrshire College was a huge part of my life and really helped me realise who I want to be. The support staff would keep in contact with me throughout the year to make sure I was getting on well with my studies. The student association played a huge part in helping me find the role I am in now and the degree I am perusing (sic). I never knew there was anyone else fighting for my rights until I found out about the care experienced executive position. Once in post so many more doors opened for me and I met so many wonderful people" Learner, Ayrshire College