Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

1.1.1 Children's Integrated Services Policies, Priorities and Principles

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides the context for all procedures.

It contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families by the Children’s Integrated Services directorate.

AMENDMENT

In November 2018, a new Section 2, Corporate Parenting was added in response to the DfE, Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers – Statutory Guidance (Feb 2018). It includes the seven corporate parenting principles set out in the guidance.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Corporate Parenting
  3. Key Outcomes
  4. Key Principles


1. Introduction

This policy sets out the framework within which Children’s Integrated Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:

  • Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
  • Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • Care Standards Act 2000;
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
  • Human Rights Act 1998;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Data Protection Legislation;
  • Children and Families Act 2014;
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The policy framework also has regard to and is consistent with a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children.

It is largely directed towards the work that Children’s Integrated Services undertakes with Children in Need and Looked After Children; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the Local Authority and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.


2. Corporate Parenting

2.1 Corporate Parenting Responsibilities

The role that councils play in looking after children is one of the most important things they do. Local authorities have a unique responsibility to the children they look after and their care leavers.

The term ‘corporate parent’ is broadly understood by Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children, as well as those working directly in Children’s Services, in relation to how local authorities should approach their responsibilities for looked after children and care leavers. A strong ethos of corporate parenting means that sense of vision and responsibility towards the children they look after and their care leavers is a priority for everyone. Corporate Parenting is an important part of the Ofsted inspection framework and the Corporate Parenting Principles are referenced in Ofsted’s Inspecting Local Authority Children’s Services.

The Corporate Parenting Principles are intended to facilitate as far as possible secure, nurturing, and positive experiences for looked after children and young people and enable positive outcomes for them.

The experiences of looked-after children and care leavers, particularly in regards to whether they feel cared for and listened to, will therefore be an important measure of how successfully local authorities embed these principles.

2.2 Corporate Parenting Principles

The Corporate Parenting Principles set out seven principles that local authorities will have regard to when exercising their functions in relation to looked after children and young people, as follows:

  • To act in the best interests, and promote the physical and mental health and wellbeing, of those children and young people;
  • To encourage those children and young people to express their views, wishes and feelings;
  • To take into account the views, wishes and feelings of those children and young people;
  • To help those children and young people gain access to, and make the best use of, services provided by the local authority and its relevant partners;
  • To promote high aspirations, and seek to secure the best outcomes, for those children and young people;
  • For those children and young people to be safe, and for stability in their home lives, relationships and education or work; and
  • To prepare those children and young people for adulthood and independent living.

The Corporate Parenting Principles do not replace or change existing legal duties, The principles are intended to encourage local authorities to be ambitious and aspirational for their looked-after children and care leavers.

In addition, section 10 of the Children Act 2004 sets out the responsibility to make arrangements to promote co-operation between ‘relevant partners’ with a view to improving the well-being of children in their area. This should include arrangements in relation to looked-after children and care leavers. Section 10(5) of the 2004 Act places a duty on relevant partners to co-operate with the local authority in the making of these arrangements, therefore promoting and ensuring a joined-up approach to improving the well-being of children in their area.

See DfE, Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers – Statutory Guidance (Feb 2018).


3. Key Outcomes

The key outcomes for all children identified in the Children Act 2004 remain relevant and enable the Nottingham City Council, the Children’s Integrated Services Directorate and its practitioners to focus on the key aspects for all children.

Being healthy

All children and young people have the right to have their physical, emotional and mental health safeguarded and promoted. Where appropriate, they should be supported to develop a sense of well-being through:

  • Build resilience;
  • Develop their self image and confidence;
  • Experience positive affirmation and encouragement.

All young people should be given the encouragement and opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle.

Being safe

All children and young people have the right to be safe and secure, protected from harm and neglect, and to live in an environment that enables them to develop to their full physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social potential. This includes being safe from a range of concerns. When they need help to achieve these outcomes it should be available in a timely way and delivered through effective interventions.

All children and young people have the right to family life wherever possible and to be supported to take part in community life. They have the right to a continuity of care wherever possible and to develop and preserve their own identities.

All children have a right to a loving and secure home and, where this cannot be provided by their birth parents and wider families, children should have the opportunity to experience this through adoption, special guardianship, child arrangement orders or long term fostering.

Enjoying and achieving

All children and young people have the right to good education and training which meets their identified needs and equips them to live full adult lives. Looked after children should have the opportunity to attend good schools, higher education/training establishments where they make the expected or greater than expected progress and effective use is made of the additional resources available for them through the pupil premium. All children (not forgetting young carers) have the right to time and support to pursue appropriate leisure interests.

Making a positive contribution

All children should be encouraged and supported to make an age-appropriate positive contribution wherever they are living or call ‘home’. They will be able to do this best where they have a continuity of care, an understanding about their identity and information which they can use to make informed decisions about themselves. Therefore, contributing to their own lives.

Children, young people and care leavers should also be encouraged to take an interest in their communities, through school, higher education/training or local clubs, and to take part in activities which contribute to these and/or support others.

Economic well-being

All children have the right to be supported in their studies, to be prepared for adult life and work, and to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will help them overcome any social disadvantage, become self-sufficient and able to make positive choices for themselves.

In addition to these, the Children’s Integrated Services Delivery Plan outlines three key priorities for us locally. They are:

Priority 1 - “A Learning City”

We will play an active role in supporting families to address the issues that can become barriers to learning and aspiration for children, young people and their parents/carers. We will work with education colleagues to support vulnerable learners, including looked after children. This will contribute to the successful delivery of Nottingham City’s Education Improvement Strategy. We will promote a learning culture within our services that ensures our practice is informed by a strong evidence-base, emerging best practice and learning from Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) and other serious incidents. We will act on the findings of inspections, peer reviews, audit activity and our regular performance monitoring.

Priority 2 - “Resilience in Children, Families and Communities”

We will provide early help, parenting and family support, targeted interventions and specialist services to build resilience, not dependence, in the children and families we serve. We will work with our communities to build their capacity to support one another. We will work to safeguard children and young people from harm, abuse and exploitation and we will support children who are in our care and their carers. We will use restorative approaches with young people to enable them to make a positive contribution to their communities.

Priority 3 - “Healthy Minds, Bodies and Relationships”

We will work with our partners to ensure children and young people have the self-esteem, confidence and knowledge to keep themselves safe in their relationships, seeking help when needed. We will, at the earliest opportunity, directly support children, young people and their families that are struggling with significant mental health issues that may result in harm to themselves or others.


4. Key Principles

Our Children’s Integrated Services Delivery Plan also outlines key principles for colleagues. They are:

  1. Ensure the right children get the right support at the right time - We want to ensure issues are identified and addressed at the earliest opportunity. Our response will be proportionate and solution-focused;
  2. Create a responsive and flexible system - We want to ensure that children and their families experience a system that does not stop and start but is simple and streamlined;
  3. Help families to help themselves - We want to build resilience in families, not dependence;
  4. Work in partnership with children and their families - We will listen to the views of children and their families. To address challenges we will work to build on a family’s strengths;
  5. Focus resources on what will make a positive difference - We will work more smartly, ensuring our resources (workforce and finance) efficiently deliver a measurable improvement;
  6. Ensure a balance between professional autonomy and accountability - We will provide effective management oversight and build the skills and confidence of the workforce to ensure professionals are empowered to make complex decisions in the best interests of the child.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children will always be at the centre of the work Local Authorities and their partners undertake with children and their families. The child’s needs are paramount, and the needs and wishes of each child, be they a baby or infant, or an older child, should be put first, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates.

Children’s Integrated Services, together with their local authority colleagues as corporate parents, will work to secure the above outcomes by working to enable a child’s own family including their wider family to meet their needs. They will facilitate services, including early help services, to support children and families consistent with the child's safety and well-being.

Where a child cannot be cared for within his or her immediate family, strenuous efforts will be made to identify potential carers within the wider kinship network of the child who are able and willing to meet the needs and best interests of the child. If continuing care within his/her family is not possible, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative carers through adoption or other forms of permanence. Efforts to secure the child’s future must be timely and avoid delay. Children’s Integrated Services will ensure that permanence plans are made for all looked after children within 4 months of their becoming looked after.

Children’s Integrated Services will ensure that children who are looked after are placed in properly approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, siblings are placed together. They will be placed in a family placement unless there are assessed reasons why residential care or an alternative type of placement is the better option. Contact with their birth family should be promoted, and where required, supported, except where this may be contrary to the child’s best interests.

If a young person remains in care until adulthood Children’s Integrated Services will ensure that they are supported when they leave care, including through remaining in their foster placement (Staying Put), at least until they are 25, to give them a positive start to independent living. This support will include personal assistance with living independently and with accessing and making the most of education and employment opportunities.

Children, their parents and other significant adults will be consulted about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to regular independent review. Children and their families will be encouraged to take part in their reviews and can expect that their views will be listened to and will help shape the child’s Plan.

Children’s Integrated Services will ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard, where this is appropriate.

End