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Publication - Guidance

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

Published: 14 Aug 2015
Part of:
Children and families, Communities and third sector
ISBN:
9781785445736

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.

70 page PDF

416.6kB

70 page PDF

416.6kB

Contents
Statutory guidance on Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
Section 58: Corporate Parenting Responsibilities

70 page PDF

416.6kB

Section 58: Corporate Parenting Responsibilities

66. The 'corporate parenting responsibilities' represent the core element of Part 9. Taken together the six duties provide an alternative definition of corporate parenting, and it is through a corporate parent's efforts to fulfil these duties that they will uphold the rights and promote the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers.

67. Under section 58 the corporate parenting responsibilities are set out as:

(1) It is the duty of every corporate parent, in so far as consistent with the proper exercise of its other functions -

(a) to be alert to matters which, or which might, adversely affect the wellbeing of children and young people to whom this Part applies,

(b) to assess the needs of those children and young people for services and support it provides,

(c) to promote the interests of those children and young people,

(d) to seek to provide those children and young people with opportunities to participate in activities designed to promote their wellbeing,

(e) to take such action as it considers appropriate to help those children and young people-

(i) to access opportunities it provides in pursuance of paragraph (d),

(ii) to make use of services, and access support, which it provides, and

(f) to take such other action as it considers appropriate for the purposes of improving the way in which it exercises its functions in relation to those children and young people.

68. Although corporate parents will fulfil these duties in a variety of ways, in view of their varied other functions, it is important to note that these six duties are not a menu from which corporate parents can pick and choose. The corporate parenting responsibilities are interrelated; good 'corporate parenting' depends on each of the duties being fulfilled (in a manner appropriate to the corporate parent). Corporate parents will differ in what they can practically deliver in respect to each duty; for instance some corporate parents will be able to fulfil a duty independently, others only through collaboration. But in every case corporate parenting plans should be explicit about how (individual and groups of) corporate parents will meet each obligation, and corporate parenting reports document how that was actually done.

69. It is important to note that the 'corporate parenting responsibilities' are underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC), and closely linked in with the obligations set out in Part 1 (Rights of Children) of the Act. It is recommended therefore, that all corporate parents should have a good understanding of the UNCRC, and what it means for their organisation. [11]

(a) Be alert to matters which might adversely affect wellbeing

70. In so far as it is consistent with the exercise of their other functions, corporate parents must be alert to matters which, or which might, adversely affect the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers (section 58(1)(a)). This means that corporate parents must have systems in place to keep them informed of issues which could, potentially, have a negative impact on the life of individual child or young people and the eligible population as a whole. Relevant "matters" for an individual might include changes of placement and / or residence, changes in the accessibility of a service, or interaction with the justice system as a victim or witness. Relevant matters for the collective population might include changes to UK benefit rules, or the introduction of a high-profile inquiry relevant to the care system. The eight indicators of wellbeing are: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included. Corporate parents must be alert to matters which might adversely affect a child's or young person's wellbeing in any of these areas. (A full definition of wellbeing is set out on page 8 above).

71. Keeping alert to matters affecting individuals requires a process of engagement with children and young people, and, where relevant, their primary carers. Only by engaging in dialogue will corporate parents be able to identify, understand and address the issues which matter most to looked after children and care leavers. To a significant extent this dialogue is already underway through established and informal mechanisms, as children and young people engage with the professionals and carers with whom they already have relationships. The feedback of these professionals, carers, mentors and advocates will be critical to corporate parents. But alongside these established and informal mechanisms, corporate parents should (where appropriate, in view of their other functions) provide opportunities for children, families, carers and young people to raise issues and concerns with them directly, through regular dialogue.

72. These opportunities should be well publicised, and accessible to the broad range of children and young people to which Part 9 applies. These opportunities will need to be safe spaces (physically and emotionally), well-facilitated and sensitive to the participants needs. Importantly, these opportunities for young people to engage directly with corporate parents should not be developed in isolation from each other. In view of the duty on corporate parents to collaborate (section 60) and avoid duplication, corporate parents should consider coordinating any direct engagement activities. Moreover, those who do undertake engagement activities should endeavour to make any resultant information available to other corporate parents. (Further information on models of direct engagement will be available in the relevant Practice Note.)

73. To facilitate planning, monitoring and review, corporate parents should also have a good understanding of the matters which, or which might, adversely affect the wellbeing of the population of (or specific groups of) looked after children and care leavers. Alongside the systems which enable a corporate parent to remain alert to matters potentially affecting the wellbeing of individual children, systems should be in place to aggregate available information with a view to identifying 'common issues' or 'trends'. Such analysis will enable corporate parents to consider issues strategically, and monitor whether their response is delivering positive change for children and young people.

74. For corporate parents who provide services and support to children and young people, information collated from engagement exercises, assessments, plans and professional feedback should provide a good overall picture of matters which might affect the population (or groups of) looked after children and care leavers. This information (appropriately anonymised) should be made available (under the duty to collaborate) to those corporate parents who do not engage directly with looked after children and care leavers (or carers). All corporate parents should consider supplementing information collated from individual eligible children with general information from service providers (such as third sector organisations), academic research and data published regularly by the Scottish Government and its agencies.

(b) Assess the needs of children and young people for services and support

75. In so far as it is consistent within the exercise of their other functions, corporate parents must assess the needs of looked after children and care leavers for any services and support they provide to children and young people (section 58(1)(b)). The purpose of this is twofold:

a) to ensure that where a corporate parent provides services and support to children and young people, individual looked after children and care leavers have been assessed to determine whether receipt of a service or support would promote their wellbeing (in any of the eight wellbeing indicators).

b) to ensure that the services and support provided by the corporate parent are both relevant and accessible to the widest possible group of looked after children and care leavers. (To achieve this, corporate parents will need to have a system for profiling the needs of the eligible population as a whole (either at a local or national level, as appropriate to the corporate parent)).

76. In the context of this guidance, a child has a need if any aspect of their wellbeing is, or is at risk of, being adversely affected by any matter. For instance, if a child is unable to participate in regular physical activity they have a need. The child then requires additional support in order to meet this need.

77. Where a corporate parent provides services directly to looked after children and care leavers, the corporate parent should have a system in place to assess individuals for the services and support they provide. However in many cases an assessment of the child or young person's needs will already have been carried out, and further assessment (by the corporate parent) will not be necessary. In the case of individual looked after children and care leavers (up until their 18th birthday), 'wellbeing needs' should already be clearly recorded in their Child's Plan. (From August 2016 a Child's Plan will be a statutory requirement for all children requiring one or more targeted interventions to meet their identified wellbeing needs. A targeted intervention is defined in section 33(4) of the Act as a service provided by a relevant authority [12] which is directed at meeting the needs of children whose needs are not capable of being met, or met fully, by the services which are provided generally to children by the authority. For further details on the Child's Plan, please read the draft Statutory Guidance on Part 5: Child's Plan.)

78. In this context, it should not be necessary for corporate parents to 'assess needs' under Part 9 in the majority of individual cases; the process should have already been undertaken to inform the Child's Plan (and any other equivalent plan prepared for young people aged 18 and over), with the resultant information available to organisations identified as having a role in safeguarding or promoting a child or young person's wellbeing. In such instances the corporate parent's duty is to assess whether any of the needs identified in the Child's Plan (or equivalent) can be met through the services and support they provide. However, for care leavers (beyond their 18th birthday) who are not involved with aftercare services, there will not be an up to date plan. To accommodate these cases, every corporate parent should have some facility for assessing the needs of individual young people.

79. There will, however, be situations where no plan is in place (such as for a care leaver who is not engaged with aftercare services). In these cases relevant corporate parents must have systems in place to assess individuals for the support they provide.

80. For those corporate parents who do not currently provide services directly to children and young people, a general assessment of the population's needs may be all that is possible. Such assessments should be based on the population-level information generated by service providing corporate parents (see paragraphs below) and other external sources (academic research, third sector input, etc.). Please note that, even though a corporate parent may not currently provide services and support, a general assessment of needs is still important. It is necessary, for example, to enable a corporate parent to remain alert to matters which, or which might, affect wellbeing (section 58(1)(a)). It is also essential for planning, allowing the corporate parent to identify opportunities through which they can safeguard and promote the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers.

81. A general assessment of population need will also be sufficient for those corporate parents (such as the police and universities) who provide services directly to children and young people but who are unable to identify looked after children or care leavers. However these corporate parents should thoroughly explore options for how they might identify those individual young people covered by Part 9. For example, the 16+ Learning Choices Data Hub (administered by Skills Development Scotland) should enable providers of 16+ education to direct services and support to looked after children and care leavers.

82. As alluded to above, where a corporate parent does provide services and support to children and young people, effort should be made to collate and analyse the information available from individual-level assessments, plans and engagement. This should be combined with information provided by external organisations (including independent or third sector service providers), academic research and national data, in order to provide a broad and strategic assessment of the population's needs. This information should be shared with other corporate parents (under the duty to collaborate), and used by decision makers in the planning and evaluation of services and support. The information should form the basis of corporate parenting plans and reports. (There are important links here with the duties placed on local authorities and health boards to prepare 'Children's Services Plans' (Part 3 of the Act); statutory guidance will be available from the Scottish Government in advance of commencement of these duties.)

83. The aim of this duty is to ensure services and support are relevant and accessible to looked after children and care leavers. It is not, therefore, sufficient for needs to be identified but not addressed. Where relevant, corporate parenting plans and reports should state explicitly how assessments of need will (or have) led to changes in existing provision, or the development of new services. Where no changes are considered necessary, plans and reports should explain why, in reference to the assessment of needs which have been undertaken.

(c) Promote the interests of looked after children and care leavers

84. It is the duty of all corporate parents, in so far as it is consistent with the exercise of their other functions, to promote the interests of looked after children and care leavers (section 58(1)(c)). For the purposes of this Part of the Act, the phrase "promote the interests" should be interpreted as "pursuing advantage or benefit for". Therefore this duty relates to the performance of actions which may advantage or benefit looked after children and care leavers.

85. The promotion of interests can take many forms, some of which will be more relevant to certain corporate parents (in view of their primary functions) than to others. Promotion of interests could include advocacy (on behalf of an individual or the population), positive action to widen access to education, leisure or employment opportunities (on behalf of an individual or the population), tackling discrimination, upholding children's rights, and working to redress barriers to their positive wellbeing. A funding organisation could, for instance, ensure that resources are directed towards projects which explicitly involve looked after children and/or care leavers. On the basis of the 'assessment of need' (section 58(1)(b)) and 'being alert to matters which might adversely affect their wellbeing' (section 58(1)(a)), corporate parents should identify the most appropriate ways in which they can promote the interests of looked after children and care leavers. The approaches chosen (and the activities involved) should be clearly stated in corporate parenting plans and reports.

86. The duty to 'promote the interests' applies to the collective population of looked after children and care leavers and individual children and young people. Where relevant and appropriate (in view of their primary functions) corporate parents should actively seek to promote a child or young person's interests within the services they control. A local authority could, for instance, provide support to a young person eager to engage in creative activities. In a similar vein, a health board could facilitate a job shadowing experience with clinical professionals for a young person interested in pursuing a career in medicine.

87. Please note that this duty to promote the interests of looked after children and care leavers is directly linked in with the obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC), and the obligations set out in Part 1 (Rights of Children) of the Act.

(d) Provide opportunities to participate in activities designed to promote wellbeing

88. Every corporate parent must, in so far as it is consistent with the exercise of their other functions, seek to provide opportunities for looked after children and care leavers to participate in activities which are designed to promote their wellbeing (section 58(1)(d)). In practical terms this means that corporate parents must extend, develop or procure activities which offer looked after children and care leavers a chance to improve their wellbeing (as defined by the eight wellbeing indicators ( SHANARRI)). Importantly, it is about more than just 'safeguarding' their wellbeing, which may be fulfilled through regular business.

89. The aim of this duty is to secure a wide range of high-quality opportunities through which this specific group of young people do become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to their communities. The first step in fulfilling this duty is, therefore, identifying which activities would be relevant, and seeking to understand how looked after children and care leavers can be supported to participate in them. Proper fulfilment of corporate parenting responsibilities (a) and (b), including, where relevant, direct consultation with children and young people, should provide much of the necessary information. In addition, corporate parents should consider the role of carers (including family members), professionals and other trusted adults will play, both in providing relevant information, and assisting in participation.

90. The next step is ensuring the identified activities are available to the eligible population. In some cases it may be necessary for corporate parents to develop or procure new activities (such as excursions for looked after children, or modern apprenticeship schemes for care leavers). But in many instances the corporate parent's role will be to make it possible for looked after children and care leavers to engage in existing activities. (For further information on supporting young people to access opportunities, please review the guidance for duty (e) below).

91. Schedule 4 includes a range of corporate parents, with varied functions. It is expected, therefore, that corporate parents will fulfil this duty in a variety of ways, making reference to both their function and focus. For example, corporate parents who do not provide services directly to children or young people are more restricted in the activities they can offer. All corporate parents are, however, employers, with the power to offer opportunities for work experience, training or employment. Many corporate parents are in a position to provide volunteering opportunities. Staff could also be encouraged and supported to become mentors for young looked after children and care leavers. Other organisational functions, such as inspection or reviewing funding applications, could be adjusted to include the participation of the eligible population. Each of these examples would offer a looked after child or care leaver with an opportunity to improve their wellbeing.

92. While it is expected that the range and type of opportunities made available will vary among corporate parents, it is not the responsibility of every corporate parent to provide activities which address all wellbeing needs. Corporate parents with a particular focus (such as housing, education or health) may wish to tailor their activities to the relevant aspects of children's wellbeing. The breadth of corporate parents included on schedule 4 should ensure that, collectively, the varied needs of looked after children and care leavers are covered appropriately. However, all corporate parents remain under a duty to assess the needs of looked after children and care leavers (section 58(1)(b)), and to promote their interests (section 58(1)(c)), so where it is identified that insufficient opportunities are being made available, to either the eligible population or an individual, corporate parents are under a duty to make activities available (if appropriate for them to do so, in view of their other functions), or advocate for activities to be made available by other corporate parents.

93. Corporate parents must ensure that the opportunities provided are not one-off chances. As far as it is practical, looked after children and young people must have multiple opportunities to participate in activities, and not be penalised if they are unable to, or choose not to. For instance, if a young person does not take up a modern apprenticeship with a corporate parent, they should not be excluded from applying again at a later date.

94. The phrase 'seek to provide' means that corporate parents must invest in making children and young people aware of the activities available, and then support them to do so. It will not be sufficient to simply make opportunities available. Corporate parenting plans and reports should be explicit about how the corporate parent (or group of corporate parents) informed and enabled looked after children and care leavers to participate in the activities they made available. (Further information on supporting young people to access opportunities is included in the guidance for duty (e), immediately below).

(e) Actions to help eligible children and young people access opportunities and make use of services

95. Every corporate parent, in so far as it is consistent with the exercise of its other functions, must take such action as it considers appropriate to help looked after children and young people access the opportunities it provides (under duty (d) above) and to make use of the services and support which it provides (section 58(1)(e)).

96. Looked after children and care leavers face many barriers to their participation in activities and engagement with services and support. Common practical barriers can include limited access to transport and finances, changes of residence, childcare and other caring responsibilities, low levels of numeracy and literacy, and socially isolated carers who lack in confidence. Children's mental and physical disabilities may also limit opportunities to participate. Considerable emotional barriers also need to be taken into account, including unresolved trauma, fear of failure, loss and rejection, and problems related to drug and alcohol misuse. Engagement with children and young people (whether undertaken directly or indirectly), combined with an assessment of needs, and consideration of matters which might adversely affect wellbeing, should provide corporate parents with an understanding of the barriers faced by this population(s). Corporate parents must then identify and implement such actions as it considers appropriate to help looked after children and care leavers overcome the barriers, so that they can benefit from the opportunities, services and support available to them. The appropriateness of action will depend on children and young people's right to privacy, corporate parents' duty to share information responsibly, and considerations about the risk of stigmatising children, practicality and financial viability.

97. A key part of this duty is keeping eligible children and young people informed of the opportunities, services and support available to them. For all corporate parents this will require close cooperation with local authorities, as these are likely to have the most direct and regular contact with looked after children, care leavers and carers. Corporate parents may also wish to build links with private and third sector organisations providing care and support to the eligible population. However, corporate parents should also put in place their own systems for informing the eligible population. Such systems could include direct interaction, designated staff, publications, websites and social media. A corporate parent's other functions, and the opportunities, services and support they provide to the eligible population, should determine which approach is most suitable.

98. Corporate parents should give consideration to the role families, carers and other trusted adults (including professionals) will play in enabling children and young people to access opportunities. Not only will these individuals be a valuable source of information about why children and young people experience difficulty engaging with a service or taking up an opportunity, they will also be important source of support, helping to facilitate a child or young person's engagement.

99. Where barriers to participation in activities or engagement with support have been identified, this duty requires corporate parents to take such action as it considers appropriate to address them. In the case of limited access to transport, for instance, appropriate action may be to organise for free public transport, or to agree start and finish times which fit around the individual's availability. Where the barriers are primarily emotional, appropriate action may be to offer a mentor, or to structure the activity in such as a way as to minimise risk. For those corporate parents who will offer only limited opportunities to looked after children and care leavers, and who do not provide services or support directly, there is still an important role in eliminating barriers to participation in all areas of daily life, including social, cultural and educational. All corporate parents, regardless of their other functions, can play a role in improving access to opportunities, services and support; corporate parenting plans and reports should state clearly what actions the corporate parent (or group of corporate parents) have taken to fulfil this duty.

(f) Actions to improve the way in which it exercises its functions in relation to looked after children and young people

100. A corporate parent must, in so far as it is consistent with the exercise of its other functions, take such actions as it considers appropriate for the purposes of improving the way in which it exercises its functions in relation to looked after children and care leavers (section 58(1)(f)). This means that all corporate parents should keep under review their performance with respect to fulfilling their corporate parenting responsibilities, and where improvements are identified (such as increasing the range or enhancing the quality of wellbeing promoting activities) appropriate action must be taken to implement them. The appropriateness of action will depend on children and young people's right to privacy, corporate parents' duty to share information responsibly, and considerations about the risk of stigmatising children and the sustainability of improvements.

101. Corporate parenting plans should be clear about how the process of monitoring and review will be undertaken. Corporate parenting reports should include the conclusions of the review, details of the actions taken in response, and if certain actions have not been taken, clear explanations why.

102. For those corporate parents who do not provide services to children and young people directly, the process of review, and any actions identified, will be restricted to assessing performance in respect of fulfilling their corporate parenting responsibilities (such as keeping 'alert to matters which affect wellbeing' or providing opportunities to promote wellbeing). However, for corporate parents who do provide services to children and young people directly, the process of review and improvement should encompass all their relevant functions. For example, a local authority or health board should review the performance of all the services they make available to children and young people, on the basis that these are services and support which may be used by looked after children and care leavers.

Consistent with the proper exercise of other functions

103. Section 58 of the Act states that it is the duty of every corporate parent to fulfil their corporate parenting responsibilities 'in so far as consistent with the proper exercise of its other functions'. This means that corporate parenting responsibilities (section 58) should be fulfilled within the parameters afforded by a corporate parent's primary functions, and the structure it maintains to support these. It is not the purpose of Part 9 to re-orientate organisations away from their other functions. If a corporate parent does not provide services directly to children or young people, Part 9 does not oblige them to establish them.

104. The purpose of Part 9 is to establish a common understanding of the principles and duties which constitute corporate parenting, and to oblige a range of publicly funded bodies to consider what more they each can do to improve the lives of looked after children and care leavers. Part 9 does aim to improve the availability of opportunities, services and support for looked after children and care leavers, but the expectation is that this will be done through the collective action of corporate parents, each playing their own distinct role.

105. Every corporate parent in schedule 4 has a role in improving the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers, and the first and second corporate parenting responsibilities ('to be alert to matters' and 'to assess the needs') are, in part, designed to ensure organisations identify that role. At a minimum all corporate parents should be able to identify activities which help to promote wellbeing (such as offering education, training and employment opportunities within the organisation) and take steps to promote looked after children and care leaver interests in whatever area of public policy the corporate parent operates in. In view of the varied functions of corporate parents, it is expected that approaches to 'corporate parenting' (as set out in section 58 of the Act) will vary accordingly. This is in the interests of looked after children and care leavers, whose needs vary widely.

106. The Practice Notes which accompany this guidance will explore on how individual or groups of corporate parents can fulfil their duties within the parameters prescribed by other functions.

Modifications to the corporate parenting responsibilities

107. Scottish Ministers may, by order, modify the list of corporate parenting responsibilities so as to confer, remove or vary a duty on a particular corporate parent, corporate parents of particular description, or all corporate parents (section 58(2)).

108. Ministerial Orders are Scottish Statutory Instruments laid before the Scottish Parliament. Any order made under section 58(2) would be subject to an affirmative parliamentary procedure, and therefore receive a level of parliamentary scrutiny.


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