7.1. A shared aspiration across our society is to make Scotland the best place in world for children and young people to grow up. As part of strengthening the many systems which help deliver this aspiration, this Review Group was asked to consider the main components of the current child protection system. These are: Child Protection Committees; Child Protection Registers and Case Conferences; and Significant and Initial Case Reviews. The Review Group were clear that when children or young people are identified as being at risk of, or subject to, significant harm then the child protection system in Scotland works well and the components that the Group were asked to review are capable of delivering the support needed for these vulnerable children and young people. There are thousands of examples each year of front-line professionals working across areas of expertise and organisational boundaries to reach decisions on when and how best to step in to prevent further serious harm to a child or young person, or to reduce the risk of serious harm occurring.
7.2. The professionals involved in making child protection arrangements bring a variety of skills and expertise from practice in their own organisations and come together to collectively decide on the optimum course of action for the particular child or young person and to deliver the support they need. Their interventions often succeed in making children and young people safer. However the issues the system deals with are complex and sensitive. It involves thousands of front-line staff engaging with children, young people and their families. The landscape is constantly changing - for example, new threats emerge; changes to legislation and practice are introduced - all adding to already challenging work.
7.3. There is a need to ensure that child protection work remains an absolute priority for all organisations working on the delivery of wellbeing and safety for children and young people. Professionals working in child protection know that new risks become apparent suddenly and that their front-line staff need to be aware of, and able to recognise, multiple dangers which emerge. Society generally also needs to be able to recognise risks to children and young people, when circumstances suggest there should be concern about safety and how to access appropriate support. Post-devolution there has been public policy and professional agreement that early intervention can considerably reduce the levels of significant harm or risk facing children and young people.
7.4. The Review Group observed that those working in the system are constantly assessing how risks can be mitigated and improvements delivered and recognise that commitment to and support of collaborative working by professionals across organisations is essential. The recommendations from this Review Group are offered as practical next steps on the journey to strengthen and support further improvements to ensure that organisations and professionals are appropriately aligned to move forward together to create the best chances of all children and young people to receive the right help, at the right time from the right people.
Email: Judith Ainsley