Annex A: Child Protection Systems Review Recommendations
Recommendations on Leadership, Governance and Accountability
A National Child Protection Leadership Group should be established in order to further support, strengthen and improve, from a national perspective, activity on child protection across Scotland. This group should report and account to Scottish Ministers.
Key tasks of the Leadership Group in Year 1 should be:-
- Oversight of implementation of the recommendations of this report
- Review of the arrangements for child protection across current planning and service delivery processes, including Integration Joint Boards ( IJB) and in relation to the duties set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
Chief Officers should be supported by the National Child Protection Leadership Group and Child Protection Committees Scotland to strengthen delivery of their responsibilities, as set out in the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014), and to identify areas where further work may be required, such as:-
- Clarity of reporting mechanisms between Child Protection Committees and Chief Officers' Groups;
- Descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of Child Protection Committees (including that of Chairs of Child Protection Committees) and Chief Officers' Groups; and
- Supporting Child Protection Committees to carry out their roles and functions in line with the requirements set out in national guidance.
Chief Officers should pro-actively engage with and report to elected members and other local scrutiny bodies as the local representatives of their communities and provide opportunities to listen to community concerns and hold learning events at a local level.
The Scottish Government should resource a number of regional leadership events via the Leadership Group for all Chief Officers' Groups and Chairpersons of Child Protection Committees to network, share good practice and collectively horizon scan for new risks facing children and young people.
It is critical that the Chief Executive of each local authority, working with the Chief Officers' Group, ensures that Chief Social Work Officers have sufficient support to provide professional leadership, advice and scrutiny across all public protection matters (including child protection), given their key statutory responsibilities within the local authority.
The Scottish Government should review both the measures available to protect 16 and 17 year olds and whether the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 should be amended to allow any young person aged 16 and 17 years old to be referred to the Principal Reporter where there is a need for compulsory measures.
When a Child Protection Case Conference is held, whether or not a child is placed on the Child Protection Register and at any subsequent points when the child protection plan is reviewed, a referral to the Reporter should be considered and the decision on referral should be clearly recorded.
The development of a National Child Protection Register that can be securely accessed by all appropriate professionals should be explored. In the short term, it should be ascertained whether it is possible for Police Scotland to use a flagging system on the National Police Vulnerable Persons Database to identify all children placed on a local Child Protection Register.
Recommendations on Developing a Learning Culture
The Care Inspectorate should become the central repository for all Initial and Significant Case Reviews and should explore the development of a 'Community of Practice' portal on the Care Inspectorate website to enable secure access to all Reviews by child protection professionals in all relevant organisations.
The Scottish Government should explore a new tiered approach to and methodology for Initial Case Reviews and Significant Case Reviews, based on the 'Child Practice Review' model used in Wales.
A set of National Standards should be developed setting out the skills and competences required of those reviewers undertaking Initial Case Reviews and Significant Case Reviews. Appropriate involvement of the child or young person and their family should be a key component of training for reviewers and a Good Practice Guidance Note should be developed on how to engage with children, young people and families involved in child protection processes. This should ensure all Reviews are timely, proportionate and contribute to an on-going learning culture.
The National Child Protection Leadership Group and Child Protection Committees Scotland should support local areas to deliver robust continuous improvement programmes. This should include working with relevant organisations to synthesise and share learning from different sources including inspection, research, reviews and local practice.
The Data and Evidence work stream of the Scottish Government Child Protection Improvement Programme should develop a strategic programme to deliver robust data sets to support child protection improvement. The Scottish Government should develop a national resource for advice on using child protection data for local planning and service development.
Recommendations on Shared Values
The Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland should be invited to work with partners to develop a programme of work to understand children's experiences of formal child protection systems in Scotland. This work should include the further development of accessible tools and information directly for children to support their participation in decision-making and events held to support front-line practitioners working with children. This work should include the development of a Good Practice Advocacy Guide for child protection.
Child Protection Committees should ensure children, parents and wider families are part of the decision-making processes and explore a range of strengths-based participatory approaches to Child Protection Case Conferences to achieve this.
Chief Officers, Heads of Service and senior management should support front-line professionals to participate in all stages of Case Conferences, Core Group meetings and Children's Hearings.
Email: Judith Ainsley