County’s parenting network

A seminar has set up a corporate parenting network, the first of its kind in the country, which will enable Councillors with corporate parenting responsibilities to pool ideas and provide mutual support.

The new initiative means that local councils in the South East that look after children will work together more closely.

A total of nine local authorities attended the seminar at County Hall in Chichester, which was the idea of David Simmons, Chairman of West Sussex County Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel.

David said: “At the heart of all that we do as corporate parents are the needs of our children in care. By setting up a regional network, we can share best practice and new ways of working. We can also form a group voice when looking at national policy, whether it’s something we support, or something we feel we need to challenge together.”

West Sussex County Council Leader Louise Goldsmith gave the introduction at the seminar. She said: “We all have a responsibility in giving our looked after children the best possible start in life. By setting up this network, we can ensure we are all ahead of the game and working together to help our children achieve all their aims and ambitions.”

Also at the seminar was Councillor David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board. He said: “Being a corporate parent is one of the most important roles a council performs and it’s vital they get it right. It’s great to see local councillors taking the initiative to share new ways to better meet the needs of the children in their care.

“It is important that the work of the network is fed back to the National Children and Young People Board so that looked after children across the country can benefit from this trailblazing initiative, which is a good example of what we mean by ‘sector led’ improvement.”

Other authorities who attended the seminar were: Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council, Hampshire County Council, Kent County Council, Medway Council, Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council and Surrey County Council.

The seminar looked at areas including:

• The expectation of elected members as corporate parents

• Current challenges facing corporate parents such as educational attainment and support to care leavers

• Establishing a south east regional network

• Exchanging current working practices and circulating new ideas

• Working smarter to continue to provide quality services to looked after children in difficult financial times

Members agreed to hold meetings twice a year across the region, with the next meeting being held in the first half of 2013 to take the work of the network forward.