SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter provides the context for all procedures.
It contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families.
In March 2020, information was added on the 'stronger families, resilient children' strengths based approach which has been adopted by Early Help and Children's Social Care in Derby.
Derby City Council uses a Strengths Based Approach for all work with children and families.
This policy sets out the framework within which Derby City Children's Social Care work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:
- Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
- Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
- Care Standards Act 2000;
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
- Human Rights Act 1998;
- Adoption and Children Act 2002;
- Data Protection Legislation;
- Children and Young Person's Act 2008;
- Children and Families Act 2014;
- Children and Social Work Act 2017.
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. The policy will support the Strengths Based approach framework, adopted by Early Help and Children's social care. This framework is represented by a 'bridge' symbolising all the different agencies and departments working together with the aim to build 'Stronger families, resilient children'.
Stronger Families, Resilient Children
It is largely directed towards the work that Children's Social Care undertakes with Children in Need; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the Council and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.
See also A Strengths Based Approach Procedure.
2. Corporate Parenting
2.1 Corporate Parenting Responsibilities
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 in the local authority. 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. This includes building on children's strengths to enable them to feel empowered to take part in their decision making.
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.
2.2 Corporate Parenting Principles
The Corporate Parenting Principles set out seven principles that local authorities should have regard to when exercising their functions in relation to Children in Care, as follows:
- To act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing, of those children and young people;
- To encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings;
- To take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people;
- To help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners;
- To promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people;
- For those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work; and
- To prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living.
The Corporate Parenting Principles do not replace or change existing legal duties, rather the principles are intended to encourage local authorities to be ambitious and aspirational for their Children in Care and care leavers. These children and young people should be supported to view themselves as part of the solution.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 Children in Care 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 partner agencies are also encouraged to support and adopt our strengths based approach.
3. Key Outcomes
The key outcomes for all children identified in the Children Act 2004 remain relevant and enable the local authority, the People's Services Department and its practitioners to focus on the key aspects for all children. The performance indicators local authorities and partners use are structured around these outcomes.
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:
- Building resilience;
- Developing their self-image and confidence;
- Experiencing positive affirmation and encouragement.
All young people should be given the encouragement and opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle.
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, Child Arrangements Orders or long term fostering.
Enjoying and achieving
All children and young people have the right to good 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, higher education/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.
Making a positive contribution
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. Therefore, contributing to their own lives.
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.
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.
4. Key Principles
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 Social Care 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. Within the strength based approach Early Help and Children's Social Care will support children, young people and families to access appropriate community resources that meet their needs.
Where a child cannot be cared for within their 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 their 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 Social Care Services will ensure that permanence plans are made for all Children in Care within 4 months of their becoming looked after.
Children's Social Care 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 Social Care 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 21 (or until they leave education or training) to give them a positive start to independent living (see Staying Put Policy). This support will include personal assistance with living independently and with accessing and making the most of education and employment opportunities and community networks.
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. Wherever possible children's capability to effect positive change in their lives will be embraced.Children's Social Care Services will ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard, where this is appropriate.
5. Our Strategy
The Strategy of Derby Children's Services will be 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:
- Sustainable and cost-effective structures and services;
- Partnerships with other statutory services and locally based providers;
- Well-trained and supported staff who are able to carry out their responsibilities effectively;
- A commitment to seek the views of service users/stakeholders and to use their input as a key method for evaluating current services and improving future service delivery;
- A clear sense of corporate responsibility throughout the Council which ensures that children and their families have their needs met within the community. In Derby City, these responsibilities are summarised in the "pledges" agreed by our council members.