Corporate Parents – Tackling Discrimination

Corporate Parenting and Tackling Discrimination

Focus on the duty to promote the interests of care experienced people

In this blog we’re taking a closer look at the duty on corporate parents to promote the interests of care experienced people, and some of the ways you can meet this duty by tackling discrimination.

The duty to promote interests can be found at section 58(1)(c) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, which states:

It is the duty of every corporate parent, in so far as consistent with the proper exercise of its other functions…to promote the interests of those children and young people.

The statutory guidance, which gives more detail on the corporate parenting duties and must be taken into account by all corporate parents, makes it clear that the duty to promote interests can include taking action to tackle the discrimination faced by care experienced people. This means that discrimination based on care experience has been recognised at a statutory level in Scotland, and corporate parents have a duty to tackle that discrimination.

We believe this is an important duty because we know how much stigma and discrimination care experienced people face. Over the years we have heard lots of examples of care experienced people being treated differently because of their care experience.

This includes examples of stigma:

“With some children’s homes where they put them in residential areas, they know they’re going to get petitions at the doors, they know people are going to complain.”

Harassment:

“I was working in a place and I’d already learnt, don’t tell anyone. I can’t remember why they had to ask my address, but people started hiding their handbags.”

Direct discrimination:

“A teacher found out I was in care and as a result she constantly questioned me about cheating on essays and then had an invigilator stand over me for most of my higher exam.”

And indirect discrimination:

“[The] issue I had with the doctor when I was in care was trying to make my own appointments and they said ‘No’ because I was 15 and they were like ‘Can I speak to your mum or dad?’ and I was like ‘No’. And then – for a while anyway – they wouldn’t speak to my staff.”

We don’t expect one corporate parent to be able to bring an end to this stigma and discrimination with a simple change of its policies, but if each and every corporate parent does whatever it can to tackle the discrimination faced by care experienced people, then we believe the sum total of those actions can lead to a culture change that will ultimately improve the lives of all care experienced people.

There are a number of different ways you could take action to tackle discrimination.

You could do as Glasgow Caledonian University has done, and include care experience as an example in your anti-discrimination policy.

You could follow the lead of the Scottish Fires and Rescue Service, as detailed in our Promising Practice round-up, and include potential impacts on care experience people in all of your equality impact assessments.

Or you could take a fully joined-up approach and follow the lead of the Scottish Funding Council by formally recognising care experience as a protected characteristic. For those considering taking this comprehensive step, we have created a guidance document which contains information from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on how the Equality Act 2010 works.

Whatever approach you decide to take, please get in touch and let us know what you’re doing to meet your duty to promote the interests of care experienced people and help tackle discrimination!