What is corporate parenting?

Corporate parenting is our responsibility to be loving, caring and aspirational for all children and young people who are in our care, or who have recently left our care as adults.

Above all else, this means protecting children and young people from harm and keeping them safe. But, importantly, it is about always striving for their best interests, nurturing their ambitions and helping our children and young people get the most out of life. Ultimately, it means they become independent and thriving young adults.

At its heart, Corporate Parenting means always asking ourselves “would this be good enough for my child?”

Our vision for all children and young people

We believe that every child and young person in Devon should have the best possible start in life and the opportunity to thrive. We want to ensure children and young people receive the right support, at the right time, and in the right place.

For children and young people with care experience, our vision is no different.

We recognise that children and young people, who have care-experience, can face additional challenges that others their age may not. As their corporate parents, and in spite of these obstacles, we want them to achieve good outcomes in all aspects of their lives.

For this reason, our ambition to be good corporate parents goes far beyond any laws. Instead, we have a moral, social and economic responsibility, as public services, civil society, local communities and wider society, to work together to equip and empower our care-experienced children and young people to succeed and thrive.

Our plan of action

We have a plan for how Devon can be the best possible corporate parents we can be. We want to be clear about what is expected of us, what we want to achieve and how we aim to do that.

Essentially, the strategy is about one thing: making the lives and prospects of all care-experienced children and young people in Devon better. It sounds simple, but it will take time, hard work and involve challenges along the way. But, by working together, holding each other to account, and delivering on our plan, we believe we can turn our words into positive outcomes in the lives of care-experienced children and young people across Devon.

The lived experience of care

What we say in the strategy comes out of the conversations we’ve had, both with children and young people who are currently in care, and those who have recently left our care. Not only are they the people who know first-hand what it is like to live in our care, but they are also the people who are most affected by what we say and do. Understanding and acting on their views, interests and lived experiences is fundamental to being a good corporate parent. All children and young people in care are different. We recognise that they all have their own individual strengths, needs and interests.

Over the last year, we have heard from children and young people with care experience in Devon about the different parts of their lives. Under each part of our plan, we summarise what they have told us.

Outcomes for children and young people

We have split the plan into seven outcomes, which cover every aspect of the lives and experiences of children and young people. If we make good progress against each of these, we will know we are doing what we set out to do. While, we want every child or young person with care experience to achieve each of these outcomes, the specific things that we plan to do, to help us achieve each outcome, won’t always apply to every child or young person. This will be based on their individual needs and circumstances.

These are the seven outcomes with key actions below each one:

1. Safe, stable and caring places to live and call home

  • Build bridges to support more children and young people to remain safely with their families and avoid coming into care
  • Enable more children in care to find a place to call home with families in Devon
  • Promote stability for children in care by meeting their individual needs in the right place at the right time
  • Help young people develop their independence and step forward successfully into early adulthood

2. Emotionally, physically and mentally healthy and well

  • Promote good holistic health, wellbeing and resilience
  • Improve our understanding of health and wellbeing needs among professionals, carers, and young people
  • Design and deliver services as child-centred, trauma-informed and rooted in the lived experience
  • Support smooth transitions within and between services
  • Provide timely and effective support for additional health needs

3. Learning, developing, having fun and achieving

  • Be aspirational for children and young people’s education and learning
  • Provide extra support for babies, children and young people with additional needs
  • Support children to remain in school by avoiding exclusions and absences
  • Make sure nurseries, schools and colleges are inclusive spaces for care-experienced pupils
  • Encourage young people to get involved in extra-curricular activities

4. Trusted relationships and a strong sense of identity and belonging

  • Help children and young people understand their life story, and maintain strong connections with their birth families
  • Support children and young people to build trusted relationships and support networks
  • Provide wrap-around support for care-experienced young people who are new parents
  • Respect children and young people’s identity and support them to be proud of who they are

5. Making their voice heard and influencing decision-making

  • Put the voice of children and young people at the centre of all levels of decision-making
  • Provide opportunities so that young people co-produce more services and strategic plans with us
  • Let children and young people know the outcomes of decisions, what is possible to do, what is not, and why

6. Safe and protected at home, online and in the community

  • Work together to understand risks, vulnerabilities and needs in the home, in communities and online
  • Respond together to harm, abuse and exploitation early, effectively and in child-centred and trauma-informed ways
  • Work holistically with young people to avoid criminal behaviour and activity

7. Developing independence

  • Prepare early for adulthood and independence
  • Offer financial, practical and emotional support for young people who need it in early adulthood
  • Support young people to take up further education, employment and training opportunities

Read the full strategy

You can read the full Corporate Parenting Strategy here

An easy-read version of the strategy and a young person’s version are both also available.

You may also be interested in reading the Promise – our list of commitments that we make to all children and young people in care in Devon – as well as our Local Offer for care leavers.