The concept of ‘corporate parenting’ requires that a Social Services Department (SSD) establishes an effective management information system (MIS) which allows managers to monitor the safety of children placed in local authority homes (DH 1991a, 1997). In the past, managers in SSDs have tended to rely on data sources such as supervision sessions, visits by field social workers and by members. However, in the wake of the well-publicised scandals in homes a succession of reports have questioned the effectiveness of these procedures and the extent to which they guarantee the well-being of children looked after (Berridge and Brodie 1996). As one Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) report concluded, there exist ‘considerable weaknesses in the external management and monitoring of residential care services’ (SSI 1993).
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