Listen in to this imaginary monologue:
“One of my children died today. I don't know the circumstances. I don't know where the death occurred, its cause or even which child it was. I don't suppose that makes me much of a parent does it?
Still, I do the best I can. There are so many other things I have to think about, more than I can cope with. If I am honest, I haven't seen or even thought about this child since it was sixteen or so. You must think that as a parent I don't seem to care very much. I do care honestly, and I want to care so much more but I simply can’t cope. I know that this child probably never had a job and rarely went to school and I've heard that it used drugs and even served some time in prison! Terrible, I know, but I believe this child did have somewhere to live - more than many of its siblings have.
I can hear you thinking "What sort of a parent do you think you are that doesn't even know what happens to your kids and just seems to be relieved when they leave home?"
"Well, I am Corporate Parent".
“Being Corporate Parent is a bit different to how you bring up your kids you know. I only have to be a parent until my child is 18 and even then I can normally get out of it sooner. I’m told now that if I place one of my children with a foster carer they might be able to stay there till they're 21."
"What happens to them then?" you ask me.
"Well basically it doesn't matter, because it's no longer my problem. I am busy looking after a whole load of different kids and don’t have the time or the money to look after the ones who have left me. To be honest, I know that many of them fail. I know that some of them end up in prison, or mental health wards. I know that some end up just living on the streets, being exploited or even ‘doing drugs'. OK, I know it is your tax money that pays for my kids, but at least they cost you a lot less when they leave me because you don’t support them anymore, it costs you nothing unless they have kids”.
“What’s that you say? How does that work out then?"
"Well, it starts all over again...I often become corporate parent to their kids and the whole thing repeats itself"
I can hear you now “How can this be? You look after a kid till they're 18 or so, then you throw them out, they fall apart and cost the likes of me a fortune keeping them in jail, or drugged up, or on benefits, they have kids and it all starts over again? What do the kids think?"
"Well, I don't know," I reply, "I haven't ever really asked them."
"What sort of parent are you?" You ask me angrily!
"I'm a corporate parent"
An exaggeration? Perhaps ..but perhaps not in too many cases. Sadly for many of our children and young people in care, ‘corporate parent’ is a reality. The individuals who make up the corporate parent may care deeply, but the impact of the care experience for too many children mirrors that of the children of our fictional corporate parent above. For many, that monologue equals their truth. The “Every Child Leaving Care Matters” campaign believe that all young people leaving care, whoever they are and wherever they are placed, deserve to be treated equally and fairly, and to be supported to have their needs met until they are at least 21. Let’s make that corporate parent monologue a thing of the past.