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Corporate Parenting for young people in care – Making the difference?

In 2006, the National Leaving Care Advisory Service (NLCAS) produced a report entitled ‘Can the state be a good parent? Making the Difference for Looked After Children and Care Leavers’ based on the What Makes The Difference project (WMTD). In that report, Frank Dobson MP outlined the progress and also the challenges ahead for corporate parenting. Five years on, the organisation involved in carrying out that research (now Catch22 NCAS) began further research across 12 local authorities to explore whether corporate parenting is making a difference. This report details what we found out. Our research provides an update on corporate parenting from the perspective of policy and senior managers, social workers and leaving care workers, and importantly, of young people themselves.

What is corporate parenting?
What it is not, as many will agree, is a particularly grounded term. Though the phrase might be well understood and common parlance within children’s social care nowadays, it begins to blur as it moves beyond the immediate boundaries of work involving care experienced youth. There remains lack of clarity amongst some professionals in aligned services such as health, justice and employment services, on their roles and responsibilities as ‘extended corporate parents’. As we note later in this report, even many of those young people to whom the term applies, have not heard of it or are not entirely sure what it means. Furthermore, the term has no legal or statutory status. It is in most respects a principle or concept, yet one that carries a powerful ethos.