To receive a report from the Corporate Director, People.
The Chairman invited Councillor Laura Mayes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education, and Skills, to present the Annual Report of the Corporate Parenting Panel from July 2021 - June 2022.
Councillor Mayes proposed a motion to receive and note both the Annual Reports of the Corporate Parenting Panel and the Child and Youth Voice Team, and to ratify the improvements required to further strengthen Corporate Parenting in Wiltshire. This was seconded by Councillor Peter Hutton, Chairman of the Corporate Parenting Panel.
It was emphasised that all elected Members had responsibilities as ‘corporate parents’ for Looked After Children and young people in Wiltshire. As such, Members were responsible for ensuring that the voices of children and young people continued to be heard while ensuring that these opinions were fully reflected in the Business Plan to deliver better outcomes for children both in and also leaving care, and to provide them with every opportunity available to reach their full potentials.
Councillor Mayes continued by presenting brief anecdotes and highlights from the report and highlighted the need for more in-house foster carers, with Members being encouraged to promote fostering within their communities.
Members then received a presentation from Cora, a Looked After young person who explained her personal experiences in the care system over many years. She talked of her experience of the Children in Care Council and with the Child and Youth Voice Team, alongside a video presentation outlining some of the activities and work that the team had undertaken with young people.
Comments were then made by Group Leaders as follows:
Councillor Richard Clewer, Leader of the Council, commended the work made by officers and other organisations in providing the results noted in the report which he felt provided confidence and assurance against the Business Plan. He stated that despite the successes it was an area that always needed to be under continuous review to ensure that Members fulfilled their duties as corporate parents.
Councillor Ian Thorn, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, welcomed the presentation and noted that the role of corporate parents unified and united Members towards a shared goal. Thanks were given to all Looked After Children and young people, officers and other organisations working to help achieve these targets.
Councillor Ernie Clark, Leader of the Independent Group, and Councillor Ricky Rogers, Leader of the Labour Group, echoed the sentiments made by the other group leaders in particular praising Cora’s presentation to Members.
During the debate, Councillor Peter Hutton, Chairman of the Corporate Parenting Panel, gave further thanks to officers and the Child and Youth Voice Team for their support and for providing a specific direction on where to place resources and focus. Recognition was given to the personal achievements of all of the Looked After children and young people, and it was reiterated that there would always be challenges ahead, but all parties were continually striving for improvements.
Further comments were received including praising the quality and detail of the report, and congratulations to Cora for attending the meeting. The equal responsibility of all Members as corporate parents was reiterated and further recognition to all foster carers across the County as representatives of the wider corporate body, was also given.
At the conclusion of the debate Councillor Mayes reaffirmed the comments made above, and it was:
1) To receive and note the Annual Report and the work of the Corporate Parenting Panel to date, its functions and impact of its work and to ratify the improvements required to further strengthen Corporate Parenting in Wiltshire.
2) To receive and note the Annual Report of the Child and Youth Voice Team from April 2021 to March 2022 attached as Appendix 2 to this report.