Are you curious about Corporate Parenting?

Posted on 15/02/2016 by Su Turner. Tags: , , ,

Children in the care of a local authority are one of the most vulnerable groups in society.  

And when services fail a child the results are far reaching and as we have often seen can be the subject of extensive media coverage.  Did you know that at any one time around 68,000 children are looked-after in England, with over 90,000 passing through the care system each year? No child or young person is the same; they enter the care system for a variety of reasons and at different points in their lives. These can range from family breakdown and abuse and neglect; to planned breaks for carers and places for young parents and their child.

Corporate Parenting is the term used to describe the collective responsibility of the Council towards looked after children and care leavers. But what does this actually mean?

It means that the local authority (councillors and officers) should look after these children as any other parents would look after their own children… The role of corporate parent is not restricted to the Social Work department of the local authority but applies to all departments and agencies, who should recognise their own responsibility to promote the welfare of looked after children and ensure that their needs are adequately addressed.

For a councillor, being an effective corporate parent from a distance is extremely difficult as someone else has the responsibilities for the day to day arrangements. You rely on officers to tell you the how looked after children are cared for, and the impact that this is having. If it was your own child, you would at least have direct communication, even from distance. With your own child you would probably know if something was wrong even if they didn’t say anything: that’s called parenting.

Last year CfGS launched ‘10 Questions to ask if you’re scrutinising services for Looked-After Children’. This publication explained the context for looked-after children services through a summary of key points. It then identified 10 potential areas of inquiry for a scrutiny review.

But whilst this publication was written and aimed at Scrutiny Committees the sentiment and approach to questioning is relevant for all those responsible for looked after children.

As well as my work at CfGS I am also a school governor where my focus has always been to ensure that all children get the best possible education and start in life.   So when I attended a recent conference to find that in one area only 13% of looked after children attained 5 A*-C in their GCSEs compared with 54% of other children it made me even more determined to ensure that those with the responsibility for looked after children understand their role and how they can use effective challenge to ensure that those children in care have an equal chance.

So CfGS is pleased to launch its new development programme ‘Curious Corporate Parents’.  This innovative programme will help you as a corporate parent to understand and ask informed questions about all elements of looked-after children’s services, and use this knowledge to demand positive outcomes for local children; and always ask ‘would this be good enough for my own child?’ 

Other learning outcomes include:

  • Understanding the local structures and processes that support the corporate parenting function such as Corporate Parenting Boards, Children in Care Councils, the Pledge etc;
  • How you can identify the range of diverse needs and experiences of local children and young people for whom the corporate parent role is designed
  • How you can listen to and to embed the voice of looked-after children and young people and establish a child-centred approach to corporate parenting.


There are two ways to access the new programme:

Attendance at a National Programme Event: Sign up here to attend CfGS’ first national development event on the 13 June 2016

A local bespoke development session: CfGS is able to design your own bespoke Curious Corporate Parenting session – allowing many councillors and stakeholders to benefit from the training together – leading to  strengthening your local system. 

About the Author: Su Turner

CfGS has a wealth of experience in supporting the governance and scrutiny of safeguarding, children’s services and education, for more information please contact us by emailing: This page was originally authored by Su Turner, formerly Director of Children and Young People, who left CfGS in April 2017.