5) Reflecting on Our Actions and Progress since 2015
"We are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion, respects the rule of law, and acts in an open and transparent way" National Performance Framework 2018
Before the 2014 Act came into force Scottish Government commissioned Statutory Guidance and bespoke training to establish and build organisational awareness of corporate parenting. Over the last year, we have augmented these practical supports by engaging with all 124 individuals or organisations in each of the 24 named Corporate Parents in schedule 4 of the 2014 Act and seeking specific evidence of activities and improvements to inform this Report.
This helped to acquire a national sense of organisational awareness, uptake of training provided by Who Cares? Scotland and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland ( CELCIS) and what measures are in place to review and evaluate Plans. Corporate parenting Plans published online and updates commissioned by the Scottish Government set out varying levels of detail around planning approaches, collaboration and levels of engagement with children and young people.
By summer 2017 progress updates had been completed by approximately two thirds of the 124 organisations. Most had prepared and published their Plan and a small proportion were still working to develop their Plan. The methods and rate of progress of developing Plans was varied and this is set out in more detail through some examples later.
In early 2018, Maree Todd, Minister for Childcare and Early Years asked for specific information and this second round of engagement focussed on processes in place to review and evaluate Plans, to show the journey of understanding from 2015 until now and to elaborate on the priorities for improvement over the next three years. We also specifically sought feedback provided from care experienced children and young people on how corporate parenting has made a difference to their lives as well as an honest account of the challenges and opportunities identified by Corporate Parents.
"We grow up loved, safe and respected so we realise our full potential"
New Outcome in National Performance Framework 2018
This section reflects in more detail on the corporate parenting journey undertaken over the past three years, including some specific examples at Appendix A of nine organisations selected as examples of each category  of Corporate Parent across the public sector. The Scottish Government plays a part in every issue that matters to people in Scotland and so our responsibilities in relation to the issues of importance to looked after children and care leavers are wide ranging at an organisational level and as leaders of change.
Our Programmes for Government ( PfG)  , now published annually, reflect the Scottish Government's continued focus on "Getting It Right For Every Child" and making sure our children and families get the practical and financial support they need. Alongside this, our Getting it Right for Looked After Children and Young People Strategy  takes this to a more detailed delivery level; setting out the three priorities of early engagement, early permanence and improving the quality of care; with the importance of relationships and stability as crucial underpinning principles.
The revised National Performance Framework  ( NPF), launched in June this year, articulates the progress of culture change and collaborative policy development. The NPF provides a broad measure of national and societal wellbeing, incorporating a range of economic, social and environmental indicators and targets.
These collaborative measures support the aims of this government and wider public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. However, Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Government are also aware of the need to embed a sense of 'love' in all developing policy and to consider the beneficial impact of strong nurturing relationships in the future delivery of public services. Towards that, one of the new Outcomes is "We grow up loved, safe and respected so we realise our full potential".
Ministers and Members of the Scottish Parliament ( MSPs) attended corporate parenting training in 2016 delivered by care experienced young people, Who Cares? Scotland and CELCIS. This approach puts love at the forefront of putting legislation into practice and has been followed up through direct engagement at constituency level where MSPs are increasingly aware of the issues of importance to their local looked after children and care leavers.
In 2017, the First Minister and Cabinet Ministers met with children and young people for the first time to discuss the issues that were affecting the lives of those growing up in Scotland. At the meeting, four Members of the Children's Parliament ( MCPs) from East Lothian joined MSYPs from the Scottish Youth Parliament to share their views with Ministers. Following the discussion, it was decided to make the meeting an annual event, so that Scotland's children's and young people's voices are heard by those who make decisions. Scotland is the only country in the world committed to ensuring that children and young people's voices are heard at this level of government. The second Young People's Cabinet met in March 2018.
"I liked how we got to speak out. It was a chance to speak to important people about your feelings and what you think. I feel happy because everyone got the chance to be heard!" 12-year old Member of the Children's Parliament following Children and Young People's Scottish Cabinet
The First Minister and Permanent Secretary have both taken the opportunity to share their experience as senior women with corporate parenting responsibilities to offer programmes of work shadowing and mentoring support to young women, with a particular focus on attracting those with experience of care.
Seek Views and Assessing
"Young people in South Ayrshire do not seem to have high expectations of their corporate parents. However, when we have been able to engage with young people and support them to ask questions and show that they will be listened to, they open up. South Ayrshire Council Participation Assistant
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. Argyll and Bute Council SUPPORT forum was designed by care experienced young people. The Forum comprises fun activity days where professionals and young people mix, develop relationships, listen to each other and ask questions. This resulted in a film featuring care experienced young people talking about their experiences of being looked after and what the term "Corporate Parent" means to them.
Where data are already collected, quantitative information may already exist to help establish a baseline for engagement with looked after children and young people. For example, most Post-16 education bodies are already tracking students who have declared their status as care experienced, which has enabled individual supports to be put in place where required.
This approach has proved useful to highlighted gaps in information and many organisations, across all categories of Corporate Parent, 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 simply improve communication in general.
"Ambassadors are listening to my views and valuing me" "Corporate Parents to treat us like they would their own child and offer the same opportunities to young people as if they were their own child" East Lothian Council Champions Board
Where a more direct approach to engaging care experienced children and young people was possible and appropriate, organisations successfully established more interactive, relationship based channels for obtaining feedback on performance. Forums such as workshops, surveys and young people's Boards have enhanced existing research to good effect by focusing feedback on specific aspects of delivery.
With 2018 being Year of Young People  at the half way point the programme continues to reflect the issues that affect the lives of Scotland's young people. Young people, including those with care experience, were at the very heart of planning. A group of young leaders, Communic18 who are between eight and twenty six years of age, are making key decisions and influencing how the Year is run.
Fife Council has used a number of ways to ensure children and young people have direct involvement in creating and reviewing corporate parenting Plans. 2BHeard groups are a forum for care experienced young people across Fife to meet on a weekly basis and discuss the issues that are relevant to them. 'Listen up!' is a strategy for including care experienced children and young people. 'The pledge' is an 11 point commitment to all looked after children in the authority. 'Seen and Heard' groups provide an opportunity for children aged 9-12 to reflect on their care experiences and learn about their rights in a fun and creative environment.
Care experienced young people in Clackmannanshire Council want corporate parents to "Listen to them", "respect them", "ensure they have as few moves as possible if they are looked after and accommodated", "help them to have good family contact", "help them with getting a secure and safe place to live when they are moving into adulthood" and "Help them access work, training and educational opportunities"
Overall, local authorities provided reassurance on a number of levels about how support for their care experienced population is monitored and assessed. 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 frontline services consider it essential to routinely gather information on the needs of looked after children and care leavers as well as monitoring engagement and outcomes. However, they must recognise this is the absolute minimum to be expected from such crucial frontline service providers.
Towards that, many local authorities reference their Children's Services Plan; setting out a range of high quality services available to children, young people and their families at the time they need them. Midlothian Council Planning Partnership have undertaken a Children's Services Review and analysed local data to identify trends and patterns in their care experienced children and young people. Based on this research they introduced 12+ teams to better ensure young people are provided with continuity of care throughout their care journey and are not transitioned into other teams at sixteen years of age. Assessing and reviewing services is supported through a new partnership with 'Mind Of My Own' to develop an App to enhance opportunities to seek feedback from young people. The importance of supporting children and young people in a way which includes their families and local communities was recognised and highlighted across many service providers.
As an organisation, the Scottish Government employs people from all walks of life, with all sorts of skills, strengths and talents. This means the organisation is ambitious about diversity, wanting to reflect modern Scotland in the workforce and the work we do. As a Corporate Parent this includes supporting staff to understand corporate parenting and working collaboratively with stakeholders and leaders across the public sector and wider. One important action has been to appoint a Corporate Parenting Champion to spearhead information sharing and collaboration between Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships to improve service planning and delivery across Scotland.
The organisation is also revising the current modern apprentice programme and senior leaders, including the Permanent Secretary, have established work shadowing programmes for young people, including those with care experience. The Scottish Public Pensions Agency works with Developing the Young Workforce to offer opportunities to young people from different backgrounds and circumstances. This includes workshops, mentoring opportunities and a number of young people have joined the agency on their Modern Apprentice scheme.
Executive Agencies reflect very well the diverse nature of the public sector. They are an assorted group of organisations, most of which in fulfilling their functions do not provide any service or support direct to care experienced children, young people or their families. With this in mind, corporate parenting Plans and updates from organisations and individuals have been developed creatively to allow for statutory functions to be approached in new ways to ensure they maximise their ability to make an impact.
Accountant in Bankruptcy ( AiB) is an excellent example of a public sector organisation that does not have direct involvement in providing services specifically focussed on care experienced young people. However, AiB has invested time increasing awareness of corporate parenting at all levels of the organisation by creating corporate parenting specialists tasked with sharing their knowledge through training events, intranet articles/guidance and newsletter updates. The organisation has also identified synergies between corporate parenting and existing vulnerable people policies. As part of their assessment of how AiB can better meet the needs of looked after children and care leavers, they have revised the policy to reflect the corporate parenting duties.
Self-Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
"A desire for the lived experience of young people to better inform service design and delivery is central to our future priorities and approach to corporate parenting. The impressive and highly influential Fun Young Individuals group is now poised to take forward a wide range of work which includes staff training and raising wider awareness of the needs of often misunderstood care experienced young people." Perth and Kinross Council
Self-evaluation and review are key elements of meeting existing responsibilities and delivering measurable improvement. Scotland's improvement programme, Permanence and Care Excellence Programme ( PACE) allows us to test small changes based on local practice to ensure that the changes deliver the difference that is anticipated, adapting these along the way before implementing into business as usual. By taking this iterative approach to change, we can engage all partners in a whole system approach and adapt what we deliver based on local data, knowledge and practice and building on learning within the local context. National stretch aims are in place to cover the entire journey of the child focusing on key decision-making points across the system.
Regulatory and scrutiny bodies such as the Care Inspectorate, Scottish Housing Regulator, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council, Education Scotland and Commissioners all have existing responsibilities to hold other Corporate Parents to account. This involves challenging and supporting as necessary to bring about continuous improvements.
The Care Inspectorate has care experienced young people on inspection teams and is currently revising joint inspections of services for children and young people in Community Planning Partnerships. This revised model now takes a more focused look at the experiences and outcomes for children and young people who need protection or are care experienced. The Care Inspectorate also involved care experienced young people in developing a graduated programme of awareness raising with staff and corporate parenting responsibilities have been included in the induction programme.
Measuring and recording continuous improvement for different statutory purposes has usefully created or strengthened links across different aspects of service delivery. Out of necessity, many organisations have built corporate parenting into other appropriate planning or reporting cycles. Timeframes committed to by different Corporate Parents range from annual reporting to senior management or Parliament with commitments to revise a three-year plan in full after three years to so called 'live documents' that are continually updated to reflect the ongoing feedback and learning. For example, Children's Hearings Scotland ( CHS) and the National Convener include corporate parenting in monthly reporting to the Senior Management Team, quarterly reporting to the CHS Board and their Annual Report, which is laid before the Scottish Parliament. Scottish Borders Council corporate parenting Plan is described as a 'dynamic document', which is reviewed on an on-going basis but formally updated and published annually.
Training and Support for Corporate Parents
"support and understanding at senior levels" "meaningfully engage with care experienced young people" "collaboration and shared learning" "build on the organisation's unique potential" Who Cares? Scotland and CELCIS on maximising our impact as Corporate Parents
Since before Part 9 came into force in April 2015 our partner organisations have been on hand to offer essential support all Corporate Parents. Appendix B includes a more detailed, but non-exhaustive, summary of support and where to find it. Each resource offers slightly different perspective enabling staff in different organisations with different statutory roles to learn about the specific responsibilities and how they relate to their organisation.
This hands-on approach was tailored to best meet the differing needs within such a broad range of organisations; all of whom have varying degrees of contact with care experienced children and young people. Importantly, it also reflects the ambition to draw us all together as Corporate Parents to do more and do it better.
The Scottish Government provided funding support to develop advice and resources on corporate parenting. These are available from Who Cares? Scotland on the Corporate Parenting Learning Hub  and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland ( CELCIS) Corporate Parenting website  .
Training and support provided by Who Cares? Scotland has centred on bespoke learning for organisations at different stages of understanding corporate parenting responsibilities. This incorporated real life experiences of those with experience of care to ensure relevant and impactful engagement. Training was delivered as live face-to-face staff sessions, available as online digital resources and as feedback to those preparing and reviewing corporate parenting Plans.
Support from CELCIS reflects their expertise in implementation and their developing understanding of the evolving needs of organisations as they honed their practical approach to embedding corporate patenting responsibilities on an organisation-wide basis. CELCIS also developed the statutory guidance on Part 9 and worked collaboratively with Corporate Parents to develop a series of Practice Implementation Notes. Reflections from both organisations recognise that progress has been made. Corporate Parents are now better placed to understand the needs, circumstances and strengths of our looked after children and care leavers.
Who Cares? Scotland and CELCIS have observed a number of conditions must exist to successfully embed these messages. These can be summarised into themes, which very much reflect the feedback from Corporate Parents themselves: support and understanding at senior levels within organisations is essential, commitment to co-design, collaboration and shared learning between organisations immeasurably enhances the extent to which organisations can best meet the responsibilities and duties, and building on the organisations' unique potential as Corporate Parents to meaningfully engage with their relevant population of care experienced children and young people will maximise the impact they make.