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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 16th July 2012

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Corporate Parenting

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To raise awareness of the role of Elected Members as Corporate Parents

2.             To inform Scrutiny Committee about the work of the cross-party Corporate Parenting Panel of Elected Members and, in particular, the development of a new forward work programme.

Recommendation

That Scrutiny Committee notes the content of this report.

Reason for the Recommendation

Elected Members and the Council as a whole have a legal and moral duty to provide the level of support, care and protection to all looked after children that any good parent would give to their own children. It is important, therefore, that this responsibility is understood and that appropriate actions to promote the well being of Looked After Children are prioritised across the Council.

Background

1.             The notion of corporate parenting - the collective responsibility across service areas and the Council as a whole to safeguard and promote the life chances of looked after children and young people (LAC) - is widely accepted. 

2.             Corporate parenting is the responsibility all Elected Members have to all Looked After Children in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Council cannot equal the love parents are able to give to their children; however, it must work to provide stable and caring placements that offer a firm foundation for them to move into adulthood. This includes promoting their health, encouraging their social development, raising their educational achievements and safeguarding them from abuse and neglect.

3.             Therefore, when thinking about the needs of children and young people in the Council's care, we must ask ourselves:

  • What if this were my child?
  • Would the care being provided be good enough?
  • Would it be good enough for me?

4.             Corporate parenting responsibilities can be delivered only when there is clear political commitment and leadership and when senior managers agree that this is a priority that can be made explicit in strategic and business planning. In order to achieve this framework for action, the Council has established the cross-party Corporate Parenting Panel.  Chaired by the Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, the Panel consists of Elected Members, senior Officers and a young person representative from the LAC Young People's Forum.

5.             The Corporate Parenting Panel develops an annual work programme.  Recently, the following key issues have been explored:

  • educational attainments of children who are looked after by the Council;
  • health and well being
  • advocacy services
  • issues facing young people leaving care; and
  • transitions for young people.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             Key achievements of the Corporate Parenting Panel to date include:

  • launch of the Corporate Parenting Handbook for Elected Members;
  • gaining Cabinet approval to develop a business case with the Housing Service looking at accommodation options for young people aged 16 and 17 yrs;
  • gaining Corporate Management Team approval to develop training and work experience opportunities for young people leaving care;
  • ensuring establishment of the Independent Advocacy Service;
  • supporting the development of the One Stop Shop for young people in partnership with the Housing Service and Llamau;
  • supporting revision of the Looked After young people's information pack;
  • supporting the annual Looked After Children Awards Evening;
  • providing opportunities for multi-agency issues to be discussed including CAMHS, Safeguarding and Fostering and Adoption.

7.             The Corporate Parenting Panel will resume its schedule of meetings from September 2012 and a new work programme will be agreed by the Panel at that time.  Key issues for the Panel to consider are likely to include:

  • continued development of supported accommodation for young people leaving care;
  • decisions regarding the levels of support provided to young care leavers attending university;
  • the likely impact of the UK Government's welfare reforms; and
  • additional oversight of the key Children and Young People Services actions in the Social Services Budget Programme.

8.             In June this year, the Deputy Minister sent a letter to all Elected Members in Wales, reminding them that they are responsible for ensuring that the council acts as a good corporate parent to the children in its care. A copy of the letter is attached at Appendix 1.  Positive engagement in supporting the work of the Corporate Parenting Panel should be seen as an important element in meeting the requirements of Elected Members set out in the letter.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

9.             Increased demand for children to be looked after and for appropriate placements to be found resulted in a significant overspend last year in the budget for Children and Young People Services.  The Social Services Budget Programme and the development of a Commissioning Strategy for Children and Young People Services will assist officers to manage these demands and the associated resource pressures.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.        The role of Elected Members as Corporate Parents is endorsed by the Welsh Government, the WLGA and the Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Crime and Disorder Implications

11.        A minority of looked after children become known to the Youth Offending Service.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

12.        Looked after children and young people have exactly the same rights as any other child or young person.  The fact that they have often had a very poor start in life and experienced the trauma of coming into care makes it even more important for the Council to provide compensatory experiences and to promote their, in part to improve their life chances.

Corporate/Service Objectives

13.        Corporate Parenting clearly links to the Corporate Plan priority for children and young people:

  • 'To work with partners to ensure that children and young people in the Vale are well informed and supported to access a broad range of quality services that enable them to take full advantage of the life opportunities available in the local community and beyond'.

Policy Framework and Budget

14.        The Corporate Parenting Panel is the appropriate forum to agree and support service developments but specific proposals which require executive consideration will be reported to Cabinet and to Scrutiny Committee.   There is no dedicated budget for corporate parenting.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

15.        Corporate parenting is a Council wide priority.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.        Social Care and Health

Background Papers

Vale of Glamorgan Council - Corporate Parenting Handbook for Elected Members

Corporate Parenting Councillor Workbook - WLGA 2012

 

Contact Officer

Gareth Jenkins, Head of Children and Young People Services

 

Officers Consulted

Relevant Officers in Learning and Development and Social Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services