Friday, November 03, 2006

Corporate Parenting - a bad mother?

I went to see the Regional Director of the National Children's Home charity last week because he had written to me after my election, offering to tell me about their work with local children and with sure start projects and so on.

Long before I was elected to the council I was made aware that Councillors are corporate parents to all the looked-after children in their authority.

Since becoming elected I have been increasingly aware that I have been a bad mother, I have neglected my children because I do not know what support they need from me.

Paul Moore at NCH has spent 30 years working with looked-after children before he went to NCH and he asked me a whole series of questions, none of which I knew the answer to.

He asked me how many children I have (how many are looked-after in Liverpool), I said I did not know, perhaps about a thousand, he pointed out that parents should know how many kids they have, not just guess!

He asked me how many are fostered, how many in residential care, how many are waiting to be adopted, again I didn't know

He asked me how my kids are doing at school, how many of the older ones are expected to get good grades in their GCSEs - what kind of a mother does not know this sort of thing?

He asked me if they were visiting the dentist regularly, if they were getting plenty of exercise... I was a total blank.

So, I asked him to help me become a better parent. He has offered to put on training for me and all of my colleagues on the council, to let us know how we can be more effective and make sure that our children are getting what they need, when they need it and that they have the best chances in life.

I hope it happens soon because I have been a very poor mother for six months already and it is simply is not good enough to hope that someone else is seeing to these very important matters.


Andrew Brown said...

Hi Louise, good for you. I spent 9 years as a corporate parent and found it some of the most rewarding work I did as a councillor.

The thing I found most useful through it all was to try to remember that these children and young people want to have as normal a life as possible. That's impossible if they change where they live too often, or their school, or if their friends parents need to be police checked before they're allowed a sleepover.

If you want any more advice make sure you find time to listen to the children and young people directly as well as watching the KPIs.

Anonymous said...

Louise, have a look at the new green paper on children in care. Excellent if it all comes to pass and a example of the Labour government at its best.

LouiseB31 said...

Thanks both. I have got a copy of the green paper, well it is a summary really, that the DfES sent for me to study and I plan on doing just that. I also agree that I want to do more than check KPIs, I would like to actually meet some of the children and young people from time to time although I will have to take advice on how best that might be achieved. I guess I will need my own police check, they cannot let just anyone turn up for a chat!
I was thinking about the organised fireworks around the city tonight and wondering if "we" invited all of "our" children to come along or sorted them all out with toffee apples and parkin...I bet we didnt. That is the sort of thing I want to get on top of too.

LouiseB31 said...

I went last week to the Young People Awards at the Devonshire Hotel. It was an event to honour 200 young people who are looked after in Liverpool. They were great. They had a presentation ceremony with a local DJ as compere and some actresses from Hollyoaks to give them the awards. There were very few "dignatories", I think I was the only councillor there, apart from the deputy Lord Mayor who was hosting it and another Councillor who was connected to the University and their awards to young people. I thought that given they are all my children I should go along and do a bit of cheerleading, so I did. I think it is a shame others werent there too but perhaps the young people wouldnt have wanted a lot of "suits" at their party. I didnt stay for the disco and party games, but I am sure they had a great time.