Corporate Parenting: LGA support, development and training offer

The LGA has developed a new and fully subsidised support offer to help councils improve the effectiveness of their corporate parenting approach and outcomes for children and young people in their care. This includes a short two-day peer-led diagnostic followed by flexible offer of training and support which can be scaled as necessary to meet the level of support the council requires.


Expressions of interest

We are welcoming expressions of interest from councils and if you would like to discuss this further please contact helen.donelan-bell@local.gov.uk.

Background

Looking after and protecting children and young people is one of the most important jobs that councils do and when a child, for whatever reason, can’t safely stay at home, it is up to the local authority to step in and give them the care, support and stability that they deserve.

All councillors and council employees have a unique responsibility to be ‘corporate parents’ to children they care for and their care leavers. A strong corporate parenting ethos means that everyone from the Chief Executive and their council-wide corporate or strategic management team to frontline staff and elected council members, are passionate about those children they care for and care experienced young people as if they were their own.

Good corporate parenting reflects the breadth of children and young people’s experiences and councils are responsible for engaging education, police, probation, health and district and borough councils and other key partners.

As part of the LGA’s continuing work to support political and corporate leadership for children’s services we are offering support to councils in improving their corporate parenting and in ensuring corporate parenting is a way of working across the council.

Aims of the offer

Through our support, development and training offer we aim to support councils in:

  • Embedding strong governance and accountability for Corporate Parenting, with clear understanding of responsibilities and expectations.
  • Achieving a whole system approach to Corporate Parenting across the wider council and partners, driven by the voice and experiences of children and young people.
  • Understanding what good looks like and measuring impact.
  • Achieving improved outcomes for children and young people who are care experienced.

Offer overview

The offer includes a range of universal, targeted and specialist elements, which can be accessed according to the needs of each individual council.

  • Guidance, resources and case studies
  • Independent evaluation and assessment
  • Training and support
  • Peer to peer support

Guidance,  resources and case studies

  • Updated LGA Corporate Parenting pack
  • Structure and functioning of a strong Corporate Parenting Board
  • Maximising membership and impact of partners
  • What good looks like in corporate parenting – measuring and understanding impact and outcomes
  • Embedding the voice of children and young people
  • Embedding a Champions approach at Corporate Parenting Board Member and officer level

Leaderships Essentials

  • Leadership Essentials training: Children’s Services two-day training supporting Lead Members with the key challenges they face in the changing policy landscape and offering an opportunity to network and share learning
  • ‘Must Know’ guides for Lead Members of Children’s Services

Independent evaluation and assessment

A two-day peer diagnostic to deliver an independent assessment of areas of strength and those that require improvements, with recommendations for how this can be achieved. The peer team includes:

  • A council Leader or Lead Member for children’s services (lead peer)
  • A senior children’s services officer (DCS or AD level)
  • A peer diagnostic manager
Further description about the diagnostic

1. Introduction

All councillors and council employees have a unique responsibility to be ‘corporate parents’ to children they look after and their care leavers. A strong corporate parenting ethos means that everyone from the Chief Executive down to front line staff, as well as elected council members, are concerned about those children and care leavers as if they were their own

This summary provides an overview of the Corporate Parenting Peer Diagnostic which is a key element of the broader LGA support, development and training offer for Corporate Parenting.

The diagnostic has been developed in response to a number of requests from councils to provide an independent review of corporate parenting approaches. Through this diagnostic we aim to support improvements to corporate parenting – we will identify areas of strength and also areas that require improvement and make recommendations for how this can be achieved. Although a new area of focus the diagnostic will draw from the experience and learning from over 150 children services focused reviews and challenges that the LGA has delivered.

The framework for this peer diagnostic is closely aligned with the DfE statutory guidance for corporate parenting and the relevant parts of the ILACS Ofsted framework.

2. The peer diagnostic team

The LGA will pull together a small team to deliver the peer diagnostic, based on the targeted scope and key lines of enquiry identified during the development phase. Typically, the team will include the following:

  • A council Leader or Lead Member for children’s services (lead peer)
  • A senior children’s services officer (DCS or AD level)
  • A peer diagnostic manager

3. Key areas of focus

The corporate parenting peer diagnostic will focus on the following key areas - these align with the DfE statutory guidance and the seven corporate parenting principles:

4. The council responsibilities

The host council will need to identify a sponsor and an organiser for the peer diagnostic. Typically, the sponsor would be the Portfolio Holder or Director of Children’s Services. The role of the sponsor is to commission the peer diagnostic, ensure there is high level commitment and involvement from staff, members and partners and agree the scope and themes for the peer diagnostic with the LGA.  They will also need to secure the endorsement of the Leader and Chief Executive. 

The role of the council organiser is to be the ‘single point of contact’ for the LGA and the peer team. The organiser will prepare a set of pre reading for the peer team that provide context and background for corporate parenting across the council. The organiser will also develop the timetable for the peer team and arrange the interviews and focus groups between the peers and relevant members of staff, partners and members.    

5. Confidentiality, data protection and personal data

The LGA Peer Diagnostic Manager will issue all members of the peer team with a Peer Team Briefing in advance of the peer challenge, which provides more detail on the expectations around confidentiality and data protection.     

6. Set-up and scoping stage

The LGA will arrange a meeting with key people in the Council including the diagnostic sponsor. The meeting will determine whether a peer diagnostic is the most suitable LGA support tool, consider the focus and key lines of enquiry, discuss peer team requirements, and share any necessary background information.

7. Peer Diagnostic preparation

During this stage the council and LGA Manager must liaise closely and ensure that the following preparations are in place and within agreed timescales:

  • Communication across the council to ensure members and staff are aware of the diagnostic, its purpose and how to engage
  • Concise set of key documentation to be shared with peer team
  • Timetable developed and interviews, focus groups and discussion arranged
  • Date and audience agreed for feedback presentation 

8. Delivery phase

The keys stages of the delivery phase are:

key stages of delivery phase

Day

Week

Activity

Description

Day 1

Council overview presentation

A meeting between the peer team and the council during which the council presents a short overview of their corporate parenting. 

Day 1 and 2

 

Interviews and focus groups.

This remainder of day 1 and then day 2 will form the main activity for the delivery phase and will feature a series of interviews and focus groups. The timetable template includes a list of people and key staff groups who should be considered for interview; this list will be discussed and agreed between the council’s organiser and the LGA Manager to ensure those relevant to the key lines of enquiry are included.

Day 3

Feedback presentation

The peer team will finalise their findings and develop the presentation that will be given to the council.  This will follow an agreed LGA format, covering strengths, areas for consideration and recommendations for improvement.

 

The final phase of the delivery stage will be a feedback presentation by the peer team, led by the lead peer, to the council.

 

9 .Evaluation

As part of the LGA’s quality assurance framework we will be in touch to discuss the effectiveness and impact of the diagnostic and any further support we can offer. 

Training and support

Our flexible training offer intends to support councils in addressing any recommendations for improvement identified in the diagnostic or in their own self-evaluation. It covers the six modules which form the basis of the Peer Diagnostic tool and can be tailored and scaled to the specific needs of councils.

All modules will be facilitated by an LGA associate with significant experience of supporting councils with Corporate Parenting, working with a Member with recent or current experience of children’s services leadership.

A typical programme for a council may be structured as followed with group sessions scaled up or down as necessary depending on the level of detail and support the council requires.  

Example support programme:

  • introduction to Corporate Parenting pack provided to members
  • self-assessment completed by Corporate Parenting Board
  • one hour facilitated session with Corporate Parenting Board members and sponsor to discuss diagnostic and/or self-assessment
  • facilitator observation of a Corporate Parenting Board meeting and reflections

Group session 1

Two hour workshops with Corporate Parenting Board covering two to three modules

Group session 2

Two hour workshops with Corporate Parenting Board covering two to three modules

Whole council session

For all council members

    Action Planning and embedding learning

    • Plenary sessions with Two hour workshops with Corporate Parenting Board Chair, Lead Member, DCS and democratic services
    • Review of progress against self-assessment / diagnostic
    • Actions to take forward and how to sustain and embed progress

    Review and follow up

    • Review of progress after six months
    • Self-assessment to be revisited annually.