‘Corporate parenting’ should be renamed and redefined, say MPs

A new report from a parliamentary group representing children in care and young care leavers in England has urged a rethink of corporate parenting as part of a raft of recommendations to help improve their experiences.

24/02/22

‘Corporate parenting’ should be renamed and redefined, say MPs

Corporate parenting should be renamed, and its statutory principles redefined, an inquiry by MPs says.

Hearing evidence from children in care and the care-experienced community, the inquiry said that care-experienced young people felt disconnected from their communities and were stigmatised.

“To truly ‘level up’ our communities, we must recognise those who have been most impacted by the pandemic,” Steve McCabe MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Looked After Children and Care Leavers wrote in the foreword to the inquiry’s report.

“Care-experienced young people often report feeling less connected to their communities – dislocated from where they may have been before and stigmatised where they may be now,” the Labour MP and former social worker said.

The parliamentary group proposed fifteen recommendations that could be made in the near future to improve the care system and foster feelings of community among care-experienced young people.

MPs said that ‘corporate parenting’ should be renamed and its statutory principles redefined to focus on the formation of “trusted, lasting relationships” and to deliver on the UK’s obligations to children in care under the UN Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC).

Arguing that corporate parenting approaches should involve a whole-council approach led by the Chief Executive and Council Leader, the inquiry said each local councillor should be linked to a tangible part of the local care system to encourage stronger links and understanding for the children and young people in the care of their local authority.

The inquiry also recommended that relationships and community connections should be at the heart of Care and Pathway Planning, saying: “Professionals working in children’s social care should ensure this includes exploration of identity, heritage, and important community connections.”

“They should identify and prioritise the support needed to help young people maintain lifelong relationships, including with siblings and wider family members.”

The enquiry also advised that all children in care should have access to an Independent Visitor, with local authorities’ independent visitor services assessed by Ofsted.

To help young people form identity and communities, MPs said all children should have access to “high-quality life story work” and should be supported to access both peer community spaces for other young people and adults with care experience.

To address the stigma care-experienced young people face, the inquiry proposed a national public awareness campaign, as well as a media pledge around the reporting and representation of care experience.

McCabe said without change, the care system is facing a moment where it risks destabilising young people’s connections to the communities that matter to them.

“Recent years have seen a sharp increase in the number of children living outside of their local area, complicated by a deepening postcode lottery of support and provision, and continued public misunderstanding about what it means to be in or leaving care.”

The inquiry was launched in 2021 to provide evidence for the ongoing Review of Children’s Social Care in England, chaired by former Frontline CEO Josh MacAlister.

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