Corporate Parenting Strategy
To consider the above report
Members considered the updated Corporate Parenting Strategy.
Councillor N. Airey explained that there were 125 children in the care of councillors, as all Members were corporate parents. In addition there were 69 care leavers (between the ages of 19-25) who were in active contact with the borough. Looked after children were not the sole responsibility of children’s services. The borough as a whole was the corporate parent, and councillors had a key role to play. There were 62 girls and 63 boys in the council’s care.
Whilst an ugly term, corporate parenting was the technical term for the collective responsibility of the local authority and its partners to ensure the care and protection of children in care and care leavers. However many natural children a councillor had, they would have many more in terms of children in care.
Corporate parents must:
· Act in the young person’s best interest and promote physical and mental wellbeing
· Promote the expression of wishes and feelings and giving the young person’s views
· Take into account their views, wishes and feelings
· Provide support with accessing the services needed
· Promote high aspirations
· Provide safety and stability their home lives, relationships and education, work and training
· Prepare young people for adulthood and independent living
Councillor N Airey commented that she was sure all would agree, this sounded like good, normal parenting. This was the point; councillors should always be asking 'is this what I would want or expect for my child?'.
The administration had taken a lead in promoting the wellbeing of children in care and care leavers, for example giving discretionary council tax relief to care leavers to age 25. The council wanted every child in care and care leaver from the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to reach their full potential and be healthy, happy, safe and secure whilst feeling loved, valued and respected.
The new Corporate Parenting Strategy would build upon the Inclusion Charter. It set out what children in care in the borough could expect from the council and how they could engage with services. She thanked all those involved in developing the strategy. Councillor N. Airey was working with offices to ensure robust training would be in place for new and returning councillors.
Councillor N Airey encouraged councillors to attend a KICKBACK meeting. She also encouraged Members to read the letter that had been written by KICKBACK to all councillors in their capacity as corporate parents. She thanked KICKBACK for all their input. Members should read the documents and advocate the work as champions of children in care; no matter what role they sat in on the council, all Members were corporate parents.
Councillor Stretton commented that she had not received any training in this area in the eight years she had been a councillor therefore she welcomed the proposals for training of new and returning councillors. Councillor Dudley also welcomed the proposals.
Councillor Quick stated that she fully endorsed the recommendations as a member of the Corporate Parenting Forum. If it was not good enough for councillors’ own children and grandchildren it should not be good enough for those children in the council’s care. Councillor Quick quoted from the KICKBACK letter. She commented that any society was judged on how it treated its most vulnerable members. May of the children in care had had traumatic starts to life and needed support. The children also needed to feel ownership of their present and future.
Councillor Mills echoed the comments that had already been made. She was a member of the Corporate Parenting Forum. It was one of the best attended meetings and the enthusiasm of those involved was palpable. The effort put in by all to develop the strategy showed how working together brought results.
Councillor Bicknell commented that he had previously been Lead Member for Children’s Services. He wanted all children in care to have the maximum educational opportunities including college or university. The option to undertake the 11 plus had already been introduced; he felt that this should be taken further with extracurricular help and the option to undertake the common entrance exam.
Councillor Hunt commented that the Corporate Parenting Forum was a meeting which she would like to be involved in. Councillor N. Airey confirmed that the DfE had her name and that of the Director of Children’s Services as the responsible leads. Individual councillors did not have individual responsibilities but should be involved in challenging outcomes.
Councillor N. Airey concluded that each child had different needs and desires and these should be supported.
It was proposed by Councillor N. Airey, seconded by Councillor Quick, and:
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Full Council:
i) Notes the report and appendices.
ii) Endorses the progress made by the Corporate Parenting Forum in developing a new corporate parenting strategy, action plan and guide for councillors, in order to ensure that the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is supporting Children in Care and Care Leavers to reach their full potential.
iii) Reaffirms its commitment to Children In Care and Care Leavers.