The effect of corporate parents on children’s lives

As children’s rights director for England, I have a statutory duty to find out the views and concerns of children in care and those receiving social care support or living in residential education. In our latest report, Having Corporate Parents, my team asked children in care how having corporate parents made a difference to their lives.

What the children told us ­challenges our thinking about policy issues during this period of austerity. They did not demand more resources, but instead wanted more good practice. That is more deliverable in the times to come.

Children spoke of their experiences of having many different professionals working with them. Perhaps surprisingly, the majority view was that it was better to have a range of different professionals doing different things instead of just one “personal professional” trying to do everything – as long as there were no more professionals than the child needed.

Reassuringly, many children told us that they thought their local children in care councils, that offer children an input into local policy, were effective for them.

Many life decisions for children in care are made by an organisation rather than parents, and we asked children what they thought influenced the decisions made about them.

The answers are thought-provoking in the extreme. The children saw cost and their own views almost equally as the two most influential factors when decisions were made about their lives. Lower down the list were their care plans and government advice and targets.

I believe such views from children demand thinking through. They must inform both our policy and practice as we all try to deliver services that follow policy but are sufficiently individualised to each child’s needs and wishes, taking into account – as we must – the balance of cost with the needs and wishes of each child.

Roger Morgan is the children’s rights director for England

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