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The new Children and Social Work Bill includes a set of corporate parenting principles to support children in care and as they move into adult life.

In a recent blog we reported on the new legislation which will affect the social care sector, announced in this year's Queen's Speech. The welfare and life chances of looked after children is one of the key issues addressed in the Children and Social Work Bill, with new guidelines for the first time enshrining in law the responsibilities of a 'corporate parent'.

The concept of corporate parenting was introduced in 1998 as part of the government's Quality Protects Programme and many local authorities have already implemented robust corporate parenting plans, and continue to review and evolve them. For example, Somerset County Council recently approved a new Corporate Parenting Strategy for 2016-19. "I'm proud that Corporate Parenting has so much cross-party support in our Council," commented Councillor Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, "and I look forward to working more with our children and young people to continue to develop this important area of Children's Services."

Quoted in The Guardian, Andrew Isaac of the Children's Services Development Group (CSDG) described the new standards for corporate parenting as a 'step in the right direction'. "CSDG has been constructively engaging with the government over a long period to highlight the entrenched bias that exists as a result of local authorities being both the commissioner and provider of children's services," he added. "This relationship invariably means that children are placed in services perceived to be the lowest cost, rather than those that best meet their needs."

The new guidance also aims to help looked after children as they transition into adulthood. For example, it includes a requirement for them to have access to information about the services they are entitled to – the 'local offer for care leavers'. It also says that the local authority should provide them with a personal adviser up to the age of 25.

"Being a good parent means having your child's hopes, fears and aspirations in mind, " wrote Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson in The Guardian. "Parental responsibilities don't end at 18 or 21, just as a young person starts to make their way in the world."

Responding to the announcement of the new legislation, Councillor Roy Perry, Chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, agreed that there was room for improvement in supporting care leavers, but warned that it must be fully funded.

To support children's services in local authorities, the National Children's Bureau, funded by the Department of Education, has developed a Corporate Parenting Toolkit which is free to download.

The Children and Social Work Bill is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 14 June. We'll be keeping you up-to-date on progress of the Bill via this blog.

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