Somerset County Councillors were today (18 May) reminded of their personal responsibility to champion the needs of the County’s children who have to come into the care of the council.
At today’s meeting of Full Council, Somerset’s Corporate Parenting Strategy (2016-19) was approved. The County Council’s Director of Children’s Services, Julian Wooster, then spoke to all councillors about their duty to children in care and provided them with some newly developed guidance which clarifies the duties of corporate parents and includes helpful links to more resources.
All councillors are corporate parents to children who are looked after by the Council. Just as they would with their own children, councillors must ensure children looked after are given the opportunities to lead happy and fulfilling lives. When it comes to health, education and life in Somerset, councillors should be championing the needs of children looked after and constantly be asking: “Would this be good enough for my own child?”
“Unfortunately, children and young people looked after or who are leaving our care do not generally achieve as well as other children. They do not do as well at school, are less likely to go on to higher education, are more likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) and are over-represented in the youth offending system,” said Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Cllr Frances Nicholson.
“All county councillors should be using their position and contacts to promote better opportunities for the children and young people looked after, so that we can consistently narrow the gap in achievement and good outcomes between children looked after and other children in our communities. The session today reminded us all of our responsibilities and highlighted the difference good corporate parenting can make.”
As part of the Council’s Corporate Parenting Board, councillors can develop a clear understanding of the issues affecting children looked after and speak directly with the Somerset in Care and Leaving Care Councils to ensure they have a say in decisions being made about their lives.
Cllr Nicholson continued: “I’m proud that Corporate Parenting has so much cross-party support in our Council, and I look forward to working more with our children and young people to continue to develop this important area of Children’s Services.”
More information about corporate parenting and the guidance for councillors can be found here.