Corporate Parenting

The States of Guernsey acts as a parent for those in its care. It is known as a Corporate Parent. The roles and responsibilities of the States are set out in the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008. In January 2020 an event was held to refresh the Corporate Parenting Strategy, attended by health and care professionals, teachers and the third sector. Here is the speech I made when opening it.

Now, the Corporate Parenting Strategy came from a recommendation from the Children’s Social Care Diagnostic in 2015 and is underpinned by the 4 outcomes of the CYPP which I am suer you all know are (safe and nurtured, Healthy & Active, Achieving individual and economic potential, Included and Respected). It set out key aspirations for those in our care, or Looked after children,  and provided a framework for the States of Guernsey as a whole to fulfil its corporate parenting roles in the lives of these children.

So, what is a corporate parent? Sir William Utting in 1991 described corporate parenting as not replacing or replicating the selfless character of parental love; but stressed that it does imply a warmth and personal concern which goes beyond the traditional expectations of institutions. 

Like any good parent, we want our children to enjoy school and do well there; we want them to be healthy and happy, secure and confident. We want them to prepare them for happy and fulfilling adult lives where they are effective members of our community. 

We recognise that the role of Corporate Parent is not easy. Children and young people who become Looked After often come from chaotic backgrounds and their behaviour can reflect this. As corporate parents, we have not only to provide the opportunities and support that any good family would provide, but we must address significant early disadvantage and that can take time and perseverance. Like an extended family, the corporate parent consists of multiple parts and it is a whole government responsibility to support our children and young people. We have a duty to provide good quality and supportive care responsive to individual needs, to promote continuity, to listen to them and enable them to contribute to plans about their care, to be ambitious for them and to recognise and celebrate their successes. Importantly, we must provide advice, guidance and practical help when needed and to support their progression into independence.

There has been some real progress made in terms of the 6 key priorities, including placement stability, fewer children placed out of jurisdiction and a reduction in the numbers of children needing to come into care.  There are currently 65 looked after children in Guernsey. 50 in foster care, 12 in residential care and 3 out of jurisdiction.

Initiatives have included establishing on island specialist foster care so the needs of some of our most complex children can be met on island.  The development of the Reparative Care Team means that all Looked After Children, Adopted Children and their parents and carers can receive therapeutic, trauma informed support in Guernsey and Alderney.  The closure of Le Carrefour in 2016 saw a move a new small group home model of care for children in residential care.

However, we can do more and the purpose of today is not only to review the progress made against the recommendations from the Corporate Parenting Strategy 2016-19 but also to identify areas for further work and set the priorities for the next 3 years.

Politically, some of us are trying to do more. Seven of us, including Deputy Mc Swiggan who is here today, have lodged a requete, basically our equivalent of a private members bill, which will be debated at the beginning of next month which, includes as one of its recommendations that the next States explore ways to integrate the role of Corporate Parenting in the day-to-day work of States Members, learning from approaches among local authorities in the UK, whether through induction or ongoing training; regular inclusion in Committee agendas; or such other ways as they see fit. We believe this is an area that would benefit from some guidance and standardisation of approach across Committees, in order to ensure it is given the priority it deserves.

It will be interesting to see whether my colleagues in the States look at this objectively and agree that it is important as we do but that is for another time.

Unlike sitting in the States listening to some really dull, uninformed, speeches, I am sure today will be a much more positive experience and without further ado I would like to introduce our first speaker. 

Scott King from Section 31 Training in the UK. And I understand this is a reference to Section 31 of the Children’s Act in the UK which relates to Care and Supervision Orders. 

I guess the section most relevant in our law – the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008 – when it comes to the subject of today’s event is Section 24 which says, and I quote, ‘it shall be the duty of the States to provide services forany child who is in the care of the Department and any person who has been in the care of the Department.

Anyhow, the name of the company gives a heavy clue as to what they do. Their website describes them as a feeling focused training company which wants to stop children being moved from home to home by standing as an advocate for the “naughty kids”, promoting a new perspective of care and giving a new, deeper level of understanding. a focus on the inner child, the feelings and the thoughts that drive children’s actions throughout their care journey. Focusing on the child’s’ narrative.

Now Scott came over in October and delivered 3 days training which was very well received, so well received in fact he was invited back and has been training social workers, foster carers, residential workers and others this week.  But, not only is Scott a trainer, what really makes him has a unique perspective is that he was actually in care. As such I am sure his experiences feed through into the training he provides and without further ado I’d like to hand over to Scott who will be talking about the Looked After Child’s World.

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