What is a corporate parent?
Corporate parents are public bodies named in law as having responsibilities to young people who are looked after and care experienced. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 says that 24 public bodies have a responsibility to understand the lives of Scotland’s looked after young people and respond to their needs as any parent should. These public bodies include things like the police, health boards, local authorities, social services and any post-16 education body (such as RCS).
The Scottish government says that corporate parenting is:
‘an organisation’s performance of actions necessary to uphold the rights and safeguard the wellbeing of a looked after child or care leaver, and through which physical, emotional, spiritual, social and educational development is promoted’. (Scottish Government, 2015)
This means that RCS has a duty to promote the wellbeing of care experienced people. We can only do this if we ensure we listen to, communicate and connect with our care experienced learners in a meaningful way. By doing this, we will better understand the care journeys of our learners – and this will help us to shape the important decisions we make as corporate parents.
What does “care experienced” mean?
Care experienced children and young people are those who are or have been looked after by their local authority, having been deprived of parental care for any reason, or otherwise on account of concerns as to their wellbeing. There are currently 15,317 young people in care in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2017).
Not everyone knows what care experienced means. In very simple terms, you are care experienced if you are, or have ever been:
- Looked after at home whilst subject to a supervision order from a Children’s Panel
- In kinship care, i.e. you have not been able to be cared for by your birth parents for short or long periods of time and you have been looked after by a close relative such as an older sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle
- In foster care for any period
- Living in residential care where you live with a group of other young people and are looked after by paid Local Authority staff
- Living in secure care
At RCS, we must work to uphold the rights and safeguard the wellbeing of ‘looked after’ children and young people and care leavers aged under 26 at our institution. As corporate parents have a unique opportunity to make a huge difference to the lived experience of this cohort, which is among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.
- Who Cares? Scotland have an excellent guide to corporate parenting and an online learning hub with plenty of resources, found here.
- The Celcis website has briefings and guidance that explains corporate parenting statutory duties. They also have a fantastic reading list to help you find out more about corporate parenting.
- The Children and Young People’s Commissioner’s job it is to ensure that young people understand their rights, and have them respected. The website covers corporate parenting, but also much more about the rights of children and young people in Scotland.
Also, be sure to look at the Useful Links section.