Corporate parenting

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland is one of many organisations and individuals who are corporate parents.

What a corporate parent is

A corporate parent is the name given to an organisation or person who has special responsibilities to care experienced and looked after children and young people. This may include:

  • those in residential care
  • those in foster care
  • those in kinship care, who live with a family member other than a parent
  • those who are looked after at home.

In simple terms, a corporate parent is intended to carry out many of the roles a loving parent should. While they may not be able to provide everything a parent can, but they should still be able to provide the children and young people they’re responsible for with the best possible support and care.

Corporate parent responsibilities are intended to encourage people and organisations to do as much as they can towards improving the lives of care experienced and looked after children, so that they:

  • feel in control of their lives, and
  • are able to overcome the barriers they face

Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 puts the concept of corporate parenting into Scots law. It makes it so:

  • there are certain things corporate parents have to do by law for the children and young people they’re responsible for
  • corporate parents have to report to Scottish Ministers on how they’re carrying out their responsibilities.

View a complete list of corporate parents in Scotland.

Why corporate parenting matters

Children and young people who are care experienced or looked after have the poorest outcomes of all children and young people in Scotland. Evidence suggests that:

  • 50% of the adult prison population were looked after
  • 30% of looked after children become homeless
  • 50% of looked after children have a mental health issue
  • 4% of care leavers go onto higher education

Corporate parenting as a concept exists to try and improve these outcomes, and to improve the level of respect people have for the rights of care experienced and looked after children and young people.

A rights-based approach to corporate parenting

Corporate parents need to make sure that the rights of the children and young people in their care are respected. They should do this by:

  • considering their wellbeing, and being alert to anything which might affect this
  • assessing their need for services and support
  • promoting their interests
  • making sure their voices and opinions are heard
  • providing opportunities for them to promote their wellbeing, and taking action to help them access those opportunities
  • providing advice and assistance when they’re needed
  • making sure services are easy to access for them.

As well as this, corporate parents must have a plan for each local authority area in Scotland. This must be easy to understand and to access. They should also work with other corporate parents, and share responsibility for acting on behalf of the children and young people in their care. Corporate parents should jointly:

  • share relevant information with each other
  • make sure their services are properly coordinated
  • fund appropriate activities on behalf of children and young people in their care
  • publish plans about how to get better at helping the children and young people in their care.

How a corporate parent’s performance is reviewed

Corporate parents must report to Scottish Ministers on how they’re carrying out their responsibilities, and must follow the guidance that Ministers issue on how to carry out their duties. Ministers have to report every 3 years on how well corporate parenting is working in Scotland.

Links

Centre for youth and criminal justice: Identification of looked after young people and care leavers by justice agencies

A guide for organisations involved in Scotland’s justice system giving advice on how to identify if a child or young person is care experienced.

Centre for youth and criminal justice: Making connections workshop

Suggestions of improving organisational practice around identifying care experienced young people in Scotland’s justice system.

Rights to Care