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Community Parenting Strategy to ensure all children and young people in Council's care get best start in life

A mother and child hold hands in front of green foliage

A new Community Parenting Strategy has been agreed that makes a commitment to ensuring every child and young person in the Council’s care has the same life chances their peers enjoy.

On Monday (26th February), the Council’s Education, Children and Families Policy Committee met at the Town Hall and approved the adoption of this strategy.

Running until 2026, it ensures we will:

  • Act as strong advocates to ensure the needs of every child and young person in our care are met
  • Prioritise access to resources
  • Ensure every child and young person in Sheffield has the best possible start in life and the opportunity to thrive
  • Provide care experienced children and young people the right support, at the right time and in the right place
  • Make sure children are at the centre of our organisation’s practice
  • Look at how we value and support those who look after all the children in our care

Community, or Corporate, Parenting is the term used in law to describe the collective responsibility of everyone within an organisation to provide care for and support children in our care – as well as our care leavers - and ensure they have every opportunity to reach their full potential. As ‘corporate parents’, elected members and council officers now have a statutory responsibility for the wellbeing of care experienced children – as do our partner organisations.

WATCH: Chair of the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee and Community Parenting Board, Cllr Dawn Dale, welcomes the adoption of the strategy

The strategy has been put together through consultation with those who matter most – the children and young people involved. This was done through collating answers to Bright Spots surveys carried out. The Bright Spots programme is a partnership between Coram Voice and the University of Oxford, funded by the Hadley Trust, which enables us to get detailed feedback from all our care experienced children and care leavers. This is the first time that a strategy such as this has been co-produced with the young people in our care.

How will the strategy look practically? The endorsement of the strategy allows ourselves and our partner organisations to adopt key aims that a ‘good parent’ generally meets that we will all work towards in terms of our cared for children and care leavers:

  • To help develop their relationships and their sense of belonging
  • To keep them healthy
  • To support them in their education and to develop their social skills
  • To give them a voice and ensure they understand their history and journey
  • To provide stability and promote resilience
  • To keep them safe and free from bullying and discrimination due to their care status

Chair of the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee and Community Parenting Board, Cllr Dawn Dale, said:

“I am passionate about making Sheffield a city of hope and aspiration, where everyone can share in its success. Central to this vision is making sure everyone can play their part in supporting Sheffield’s children and making this city the best place to grow up in for a child.

“In December last year, Sheffield City Council declared it would treat “care experienced” as if it were a protected characteristic. I am extremely proud of Sheffield’s children in care and care leavers, and I am committed to do all I can to support them to benefit from the many opportunities our great city has to offer.

“In all we do we want children and young people who have experienced care to feel loved, accepted and safe. I particularly want to thank our skilled, dedicated and compassionate foster carers and staff for their commitment to our children.”

Meredith Dixon-Teasdale, Strategic Director of Children’s Services (DCS) at Sheffield City Council, said:

“This Sheffield Community Parenting Strategy sets out the city’s priorities for care experienced children and young people across the city.

“Together we get things done. Our strategy will be delivered with support from key partners, voluntary and community organisations and businesses in the city. We must work together to ensure all care experienced children and young people can benefit from all the opportunities the city has to offer, and that they have the support and connections they need to grow up feeling safe, valued, heard, and knowing they belong here.”

Kate Josephs, Sheffield City Council Chief Executive, said:

“Children and young people are at the heart of everything we do. I am proud the key priority for the Council plan is to work together to build a better, brighter future for Sheffield.

“Our strategy has been co-produced with care experienced children and young people. It builds on our vision for children and young people as set out in Sheffield City Goals and the Council Plan, which commits us to be great “community parents”. This strategy underpins our commitment to champion Sheffield’s children and young people and to ensure they have every opportunity to live happy and fulfilling lives.”