SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides the context for all procedures, and contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families.
AMENDMENTIn December 2018, a new Section 2, Corporate Parenting was added in response to the DfE publication 'Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers – Statutory Guidance (Feb 2018)'. It includes the seven corporate parenting principles set out in the guidance.
This policy sets out the framework within which Derbyshire Children's Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:
The policy framework also has regard to, and is consistent with, a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.
It is largely directed towards the work that Children's Services undertakes with Children in Need and Children in Care; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the local authority and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.
The role that councils play in looking after children is one of the most important things they do. Local authorities have a unique responsibility to the children they look after and their care leavers.
The term 'corporate parent' is broadly understood by Directors of Children's Services and Lead Members for Children, as well as those working directly in Children's Services, in relation to how local authorities should approach their responsibilities for Children in Care and care leavers. A strong ethos of corporate parenting means that sense of vision and responsibility towards the children they look after and their care leavers is a priority for everyone. Corporate Parenting is an important part of the Ofsted inspection framework and the Corporate Parenting Principles are referenced in Ofsted's Inspecting Local Authority Children's Services.
The Corporate Parenting Principles are intended to facilitate as far as possible secure, nurturing, and positive experiences for Children in Care and enable positive outcomes for them.
The experiences of Children in Care and care leavers, particularly in regards to whether they feel cared for and listened to, will therefore be an important measure of how successfully local authorities embed these principles.
The Corporate Parenting Principles set out seven principles that local authorities will have regard to when exercising their functions in relation to Children in Care, as follows:
The Corporate Parenting Principles do not replace or change existing legal duties, The principles are intended to encourage local authorities to be ambitious and aspirational for their looked-after children and care leavers.
In addition, section 10 of the Children Act 2004 sets out the responsibility to make arrangements to promote co-operation between 'relevant partners' with a view to improving the well-being of children in their area. This should include arrangements in relation to looked-after children and care leavers. Section 10(5) of the 2004 Act places a duty on relevant partners to co-operate with the local authority in the making of these arrangements, therefore promoting and ensuring a joined-up approach to improving the well-being of children in their area.
Our vision for Children's Services is one where we all work together to support and inspire young people and their families to be the best they can be: safe, healthy, happy, learning and working.
We have statutory responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and improving outcomes for children and families is at the heart of everything we do.
We are committed to working in an interagency way; we want the child's journey to be seamless and to ensure the child's voice is heard and acted upon whenever possible. We are working to improve the participation of families, children and young people in our work with them.
The Stronger Families Safer Children Operating Model® has been developed to provide an overarching framework for Early Help to Safeguarding and Specialist Services. In particular the model enables practitioners to:
The model also provides practitioners with guiding principles and tools to enable them to work in an efficient, effective and respectful manner with clear, measured outcomes.
The Model aligns with the joint Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Threshold Document and is used at the point of referral to Starting Point. The same language and questions are used in the Single Assessment and the Single Plan.
The Model will:
We are committed to using and promoting strength based approaches that have a clear evidence base including:
The key outcomes for all children are set out in our Children's Service Plan and enable the local authority, the Children's Services Department and its practitioners to focus on the key aspects for all children (the key outcomes identified in the Children Act 2004 remain relevant).
The performance indicators local authorities and partners use are structured around these outcomes. The statements set out below are based on these key outcomes and have been amended to reflect current Government policy priorities.
All children and young people have the right to have their physical, emotional and mental health safeguarded and promoted. Where appropriate, they should be supported to develop a sense of well being through:
All young people should be given the encouragement and opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle.
All children and young people have the right to the best possible education and training which meets their identified needs and equips them to live full adult lives. Children in Care should have the opportunity to attend good schools and higher education or training establishments where they make the expected or greater than expected progress and effective use is made of the additional resources available for them through the pupil premium. All children (not forgetting young carers) have the right to time and support to pursue appropriate leisure interests.
All children should be encouraged and supported to make an age-appropriate positive contribution wherever they are living or call 'home'. They will be able to do this best where they have a continuity of care, an understanding about their identity and information which they can use to make informed decisions about themselves, and contribute to their own lives.
All children and young people have the right to be safe and secure, protected from harm and neglect, and to live in an environment that enables them to develop to their full physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social potential. This includes being safe from a range of concerns. When they need help to achieve these outcomes it should be available in a timely way and delivered through effective interventions.
All children and young people have the right to family life wherever possible and to be supported to take part in community life. They have the right to a continuity of care wherever possible and to develop and preserve their own identities.
All children have a right to a loving and secure home and, where this cannot be provided by their birth parents and wider families, children should have the opportunity to experience this through adoption, special guardianship or long term fostering.
All children have the right to be supported in their studies, to be prepared for adult life and work, and to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will help them overcome any social disadvantage, become self-sufficient and able to make positive choices for themselves.
Children, young people and care leavers should also be encouraged to take an interest in their communities, through school, higher education/training or local clubs, and to take part in activities which contribute to these and /or support others.
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children will always be at the centre of the work local authorities and their partners undertake with children and their families. The child's needs are paramount, and the needs and wishes of each child, be they a baby or infant, or an older child, should be put first, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates.
Children's Services, together with their local authority colleagues as corporate parents, will work to secure the above outcomes by working to enable a child's own family, including their wider family, to meet their needs. They will facilitate services, including early help services, to support children and families consistent with the child's safety and well-being.
Where a child cannot be cared for within his or her immediate family, strenuous efforts will be made to identify potential carers within the wider kinship network of the child who are able and willing to meet the needs and best interests of the child. If continuing care within his/her family is not possible, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative carers through adoption or other forms of permanence. Efforts to secure the child's future must be timely and avoid delay. Children's Services will ensure that permanence plans are made for all Children in Care within 4 months of their becoming looked after.
Children's Services will ensure that Children in Care are placed in properly approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, siblings are placed together. They will be placed in a family placement unless there are assessed reasons why residential care or an alternative type of placement is the better option. Contact with their birth family should be promoted, and where required, supported, except where this may be contrary to the child's best interests.
If a young person remains in care until adulthood Children's Services will ensure that they are supported when they leave care, including through remaining in their foster placement (Staying Put), at least until they are 25, to give them a positive start to independent living. This support will include personal assistance with living independently and with accessing and making the most of education and employment opportunities.
Children, their parents and other significant adults will be consulted about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to regular independent review. Children and their families will be encouraged to take part in their reviews and can expect that their views will be listened to and will help shape the child's Plan.
Children's Services will ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard.
The Strategy of Derbyshire Children's Services is to harness Government policy and funding opportunities to develop evidence-based services that meet the needs of children and families.
To reflect on and consider feedback on local and national issues and to promote a learning and development culture that will work to provide:
This will deliver a range of universal, targeted and specialist services. These services will aim to reduce the numbers of children becoming children in need and concentrate specialist services on children most in need to give them the best possible life chances.
Staff employed by the Council have access to confidential information/data relating to the work of the Council, its service users and other staff. It is a condition of employment that all staff respect the confidentiality of any information that they may come into contact with and under no circumstances should such information be divulged or passed to any persons or organisation in any form unless such disclosure is authorised.
Any unauthorised disclosure of confidential information by Council staff may result in disciplinary action. Staff may also face prosecution under the Data Protection Act 2018 or Computer Misuse Act 1990. Further information can be found in the Employment Policies section of our website.
However, where there are concerns about the safety of a child, the GDPR and the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 are not a barrier to sharing information where the failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm. The Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Information Sharing Agreement provides further information and guidance for practitioners.
Where disclosure is proposed, and there is any doubt as to whether the DPA applies or whether only the common law of confidentiality applies, advice should always be sought, from the Council's Data Protection Officer and/or Legal Services.
Only valid for 48hrs