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1.1.1 Policies, Values 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. It also sets out underlying values and principles for recording, confidentiality and consultation.

RELATED CHAPTER

Core Standards for Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children and Young People in Newcastle Procedure

AMENDMENT

In March 2019, a new section was added on Corporate Parenting 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. Vision
  3. Key Principles
  4. Values
  5. Our Strategy
  6. Corporate Parenting


1. Introduction

This policy sets out the framework within which Children's Social Care 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 Act 2018;
  • Children and Young Person’s Act 2008.

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 Social Care 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. Vision

In Newcastle all children and young people matter. We will work together and in partnership with families and carers, to give every child and young person the best opportunities today and for the future. Our vision for children and young people in Newcastle is that they should:

  • Enjoy the best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health and development so that they feel good about themselves and their lives;
  • Be safe and protected from harm within their families and communities;
  • Be fulfilled, enjoying and achieving in all areas of their life and in particular learning;
  • Take an active part in positive opportunities presented in all areas and stages of their life and in the community, and be valued for their contributions;
  • Be protected from discrimination so that they can live free from poverty and hardship; and
  • Enjoy living in Newcastle, ‘a child and family friendly city’ and have a say in all issues that affect their lives.

This can be summarised under 5 key outcomes for children and young people:

Being Healthy

All children and young people have the right to have their physical and mental health safeguarded and promoted. They also have the right 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.

Enjoying and Achieving

All children and young people have the right to the best possible education and training which meets their identified needs and equips them to live full adult lives. They also have the right to time and support to pursue appropriate leisure interests, especially children acting as young carers.

Making a Positive Contribution

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. They also have a right to information and to make choices about their lives, having regard to their age and understanding. Through this they will be enabled to make a positive contribution to the community and to society.

Economic Well-being

All children have the right to live above the poverty threshold and to be equipped with the skills and knowledge that will help them overcome socio-economic disadvantage where necessary.


3. Key Principles

The key principles underpinning service delivery for children in Newcastle are as follows:

  • Children and young people are unique members of the community and should be valued and respected whatever their ability, ethnic origin, gender, health, sexuality or religion;
  • Each child has the right to grow up and develop to the best of his or her potential physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually;
  • Children and young people have the right to safety and protection from neglect and abuse;
  • The child’s wishes and feelings must be taken into account having regard to his/her age and understanding;
  • Decisions should:
    • Reflect the wishes and feelings of children and young people from birth to 19 years old and respect their contribution;
    • Be based on outcomes and evidence; and
    • Be based on strong partnerships between all agencies and organisations that provide services to children, young people and their families.
  • All meetings, including professionals meetings, should have a clear purpose, function and membership from the outset.

Consideration of children's welfare and best interests will always be at the centre of the work that is undertaken.

Children's Social Care will work to ensure the above outcomes by working to maintain children within their own families, and facilitating services to support this arrangement, wherever this is possible and 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 care for the child.

If continuing care within his/her family is not possible, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative carers, reflecting the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background wherever possible and appropriate. Suitable local placements will be identified to achieve educational and social continuity.

Children's Social Care will ensure that children who are Looked After are placed in approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, siblings are placed together. For younger children, they will be placed in a family placement unless there are sound assessed reasons why residential care is the preferred option.

Children's Social Care will ensure that permanence plans are made for all looked after children within 4 months of their becoming looked after and enacted as quickly as possible. If a young person remains in care we will ensure that they are supported when they leave care at least until they are 21, to give them a positive start to independent living.

Children, their parents and other significant adults will be consulted about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to independent review. Children's Social Care will also consult about the services it provides and ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard.


4. Values

The following are values of Children’s Social Care in Newcastle:

  • Services will promote all aspects of the health, education and welfare of children and young people;
  • The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in the assessment of need and provision of services;
  • A child’s best interests are usually met within his/her family. Wherever possible services should support this by working in partnership with parent and families;
  • Services provided for children and young people and their families will take account of their racial origin, community, religion, cultural and linguistic background;
  • Service delivery should be timely and organised around the needs of the child and young person, taking account that children are growing and developing;
  • Children and young people with disabilities are children and young people first and should be given the opportunity to access a broad, tailored and relevant range of services;
  • Information on the services provided for all children, young people and their families will be made accessible to all;
  • Service users and voluntary groups will be consulted and involved in planning and development;
  • Newcastle’s policies in respect of all children and young people apply equally to those with additional needs, including special educational needs. The strategic approach centres on prevention, so that additional needs do not develop from the start, and impediments to the child’s development are identified at an early stage and support offered.


5. Our Strategy

The strategy for Children's Social Care is to harness government policy and funding streams to improve performance, so that we can work with other agencies to ensure better outcomes for every child and his or her family through cost effective systems, structures and partnerships - through targeting services to prevent most children from becoming children in need, whilst concentrating specialist services on children most in need to give them the best possible life chances.


6. Corporate Parenting

6.1 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.

6.2 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).

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