New ‘parents’ told they need to do more to be the champions of looked after children

    Councillors – who are legally the ‘parents’ of 400 children in care – have been told that they need to do more for their kids.

    Milton Keynes Council is expecting to be visited by Ofsted at any moment and needs to be able to prove that councillors are doing their bit to listen to young people.

    In November 2016 the council was told that its children’s services required improvement.

    And one of 13 recommendations Ofsted gave was to “ensure that elected members robustly and consistently champion the needs of children.”

    Mac Heath, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “We are a parent and we should be asking is the care good enough for my child, because they are our children.

    “What opportunities are we giving them? How are we hearing their voice? This shouldn’t just happen in meetings but through our other responsibilities.”

    He asked councillors serving on the corporate parenting panel to promote the role of the council as a corporate parent and to ask challenging questions of officers.

    “We are expecting a visit from Ofsted and we need the panel’s help,” he added.

    And later he said: “It is important that we hold a mirror up to ourselves and ask whether we are giving children better opportunities than they would be receiving in their birth families.”

    Cllr Marie Bradburn (Lib Dem, Bradwell) who is chairing the panel this year, said: “How can we make a difference to children in our care? For me that’s very powerful. It is about getting into the shoes of these children.”

    The council wants councillors to become the champions of nine aspects of children living in care, including on proving that they are listening to them.

    Two councillors responded to the call during Tuesday’s virtual meeting, Cllr Kerrie Bradburn (Lib Dem, Broughton) put herself forward for issues of fostering and adoption. Cllr Anthony Brown (Lab, Tatternhoe), a teacher, said he would cover education issues.

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