As manager of the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF) I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to write a blog for SOLACE during ‘care leavers week’. With the DfE consultation on Corporate parenting principles; local offer; and extending personal advisor support for all care leavers to 25 years out recently I thought corporate parenting of care leavers would be a timely subject to briefly explore.
The NLCBF is a forum of over 90 local authority leaving care service managers who come together to benchmark and share best practice. We work in partnership with DfE, DWP, HMPPS, Ofsted and other government departments to develop leaving care related policy. We have an active young people’s benchmarking forum which brings together care leavers from across England to share experiences and co-produce our work programme.
The concept of corporate parenting has been around for many years but until recently has tended to conjure up images of ‘parenting’ ‘children’ in care. When the latest government strategy on leaving care, ‘Keep on caring’ was published in July 2016 one of its key aims was to embed the culture of corporate parenting, not just for children but for care leavers up to the age of 25. This requirement was enshrined in law in the Children and Social Work Act 2017 with 7 corporate parenting principles:
1. Act in best interests – promoting physical and mental health
2. Encourage expression of views
3. Take account of views, wishes and feelings
4. Ensure access to and use of LA and partners services
5. Promote high aspirations
6. Ensure safety and stability
7. Prepare for adulthood
Eight of the 9 local authorities to receive an outstanding judgement from Ofsted for their leaving care services are active members of NLCBF. This enables the forum to gather and share many exemplars of best practice. A grasp of what corporate parenting means and acknowledgement of responsibilities at a senior management level is apparent within all 9 outstanding authorities. Senior leaders drive the corporate parenting agenda from the front. Sustained investment ensuring that care leavers receive the intensive support they need post 18 years. Evidence of direct engagement between young people, leaders and elected members to assist decision makers to really understand care leavers issues and dilemmas and a culture of responsibility is tangible; seeking “high aspirations” for “our care leavers”.
So what should local authorities be doing to ensure they meet the requirements of this new legislation? It is important that councillors and senior managers across all departments, not just social care, understand their responsibilities as corporate parents. The LGA have produced a helpful resource pack to assist in this. Progress can be enabled by a number of means, including:
- Ensuring effective lines of communication between senior leaders and your care leavers
- Inviting senior managers and care leavers to attend corporate parenting panels together to share insight and learning.
- Ensuring the ‘local offer’ for care leavers is updated and well publicised in line with new requirements set out in the CSW Act 2017.
The NLCBF will continue to share policy and practice developments to enable local authorities to deliver the requirements of this new legislation and in turn, create the best outcomes for their care leavers. If you would like more information about the forum please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read the NLCBF Annual Review here.