Section 60: Collaborative Working Among Corporate Parents
119. Section 60 requires all corporate parents to collaborate with each other, in so far as is reasonably practicable, when exercising their corporate parenting duties, where they consider that doing so would safeguard or promote the wellbeing of children and young people to whom Part 9 of the Act applies.
120. Collaboration may involve (but is not restricted to):
(a) sharing information,
(b) providing advice or assistance,
(c) co-ordinating activities (and seeking to prevent unnecessary duplication),
(d) sharing responsibility for action,
(e) funding activities jointly,
(f) exercising functions under this Part jointly (for example, by publishing a joint plan or joint report).
121. For any corporate parent to be successful in fulfilling their duties a measure of collaborative working with other corporate parents will be necessary. Whether it is in preparation of a corporate parenting plan, verification of young person's eligibility, or delivery of activity, corporate parents will need the support of others. This is a reflection of the varied functions of corporate parents. For corporate parents with no direct contact with children and young people, collaboration may be necessary to fulfil their duties to "be alert to matters which might affect wellbeing" (section 58(1)(a)), and to "assess their needs" (section 58(1)(b)), among others. For some corporate parents collaboration may offer the means by which they can 'promote the interests' of looked after children and care leavers (section 58(1)(c)) or take appropriate action to help eligible young people to access the opportunities, services and support provided (section 58(1)(e)).
122. In the interests of the eligible population, corporate parents should actively consider funding activities jointly. By combining resources corporate parents may be able to offer a wider range of quality opportunities, services and supports for looked after children and young people. While the pressures on an organisation's resources are acknowledged, it will not be acceptable for a corporate parent to claim resource constraints as the reason why an opportunity, service or support cannot be provided, without evidence that they have comprehensively explored the opportunities for collaboration (including joint funding) with other corporate parents.
123. Effective collaboration will depend, in part, on the sharing of information. In most cases it should be possible to share relevant information without requiring the disclosure of personal information. When corporate parents wish to disseminate information about the activities and support they provide, for example, they should collaborate with those corporate parents (such as local authorities) who have direct contact with children and young people, and can distribute information on their behalf. Where the sharing of personal information is required in order to safeguard or promote the wellbeing of a child or young person, this should be done proportionately, in compliance with the principles and provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
124. Section 60 does not prescribe the format of collaborative working. Some corporate parents may wish to develop formal partnerships, pooling resources and expertise to fulfil their corporate parenting functions. Others may wish to use existing collaborative structures (such as Community Planning Partnerships); however existing structures may have limited memberships, so corporate parents choosing this option will need to consider how they also engage with corporate parents outside of these structures. For some corporate parents, in view of their other functions, collaborative working will only ever be appropriate on an ad hoc basis, and in a limited way. Ultimately it is the responsibility of each corporate parent to identify how and with whom they collaborate. Any collaboration should be recorded in the corporate parenting report. When no collaboration has taken place over the course of a corporate parenting report, an explanation should be provided.