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Publication - Guidance

Statutory Guidance on Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Published: 23 Dec 2016
Part of:
Children and families, Communities and third sector
ISBN:
9781786527097

Guidance for local authorities and health boards on exercising the functions conferred by Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Act.

110 page PDF

879.7kB

110 page PDF

879.7kB

Contents
Statutory Guidance on Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
Section 8: Requirement To Prepare Children's Services Plans

110 page PDF

879.7kB

Section 8: Requirement To Prepare Children's Services Plans

39. Section 8(1) of the Act requires every local authority and its relevant health board to jointly prepare a Children's Services Plan for the area of the local authority, in respect of each three-year period. The start of the first three-year period will be determined by Scottish Ministers, and set out in a Ministerial Order. [11] The Children's Services Planning (Specified Date) (Scotland) Order 2016, which came into force on 7 October 2016, specified 1 April 2017 as the date that the first three year Children's Services Plan is required to be in place.

40. Sub-section (2) sets out that a Children's Services Plan means a document setting out the local authority and health board's plans for the provision of all "children's services" and "related services" over the three-year period.

Identifying "children's" and "relevant" services

41. In order to prepare a Children's Services Plan, a local authority and the relevant health board will need to establish which of their services, and the services offered in their area by "other service providers" and Scottish Ministers [12] , fall within the definitions. As set out in Section 7(1) of the Act, these definitions are:

"children's service" means any service provided in the area of a local authority by a person mentioned in subsection (2) [13] which is provided wholly or mainly to, or for the benefit of -

(a) children generally, or

(b) children with needs of a particular type (such as looked after children or children with a disability or an additional support need in learning).

"related service" means any service provided in the area of a local authority by a person mentioned in subsection (2) which though not a children's service is capable of having a significant effect on the wellbeing of children.

42. Local authorities and relevant health boards must ensure that their Children's Services Plan is comprehensive in its scope, covering the local services (provided by the local authority, relevant health board, "other service providers" and Scottish Ministers [14] ) which fall into the categories of "children's service" or "related service" above. This includes services delivered by private or third sector organisations on behalf of, or in partnership with, the local authority, relevant health board, "other service providers" or Scottish Ministers (e.g. a leisure service provided for the local authority by an Arm's Length External Organisation ( ALEO) or a disability support service provided on behalf of the relevant health board by a charity).

43. To make sure that all "children's" and "related" services are covered in the plan, local authorities and health boards may wish to consider using all, or some of, the following steps. (Please note that these steps are suggestions only; a local authority and the relevant health board are free to use whatever methods they wish to identify the relevant "children's" and "related" services provided in the local authority area.)

Step 1: Review

Review which services were covered in the most recent "Integrated Children's Services Plan".

According to guidance issued by Scottish Ministers in 2004, Integrated Children's Services Plans should have included (at a minimum) details of the services to be provided under:

  • Children's Services Plans
    − Services for 'children in need'
    − Child protection services
    − Services for children affected by disability
    − Services for looked after children and care leavers
    − Adoption and fostering services
    − Targeted and universal early years and childcare services (including Sure Start Scotland, pre-school education, childcare and out-of-school care services)
    − Community Learning and Development (including youth work)
    − Support for Children's Hearings system
  • Statements of Education Improvement Objectives
  • Local Health Plans/Joint Health Improvement Plans/Child Health Strategies
    − Primary care
    − Community nursing
    − Community paediatric
    − Therapy services
    − Out-patient and hospital based services
    − Child and Adolescent Mental Health services
  • Youth Justice Strategies

It is likely that all the services covered by an Integrated Children's Services Plan will meet the definition of either a children's service or a related service.

Step 2: Mapping

Map out, through a variety of case studies and the use of local service directories, all of the services and community assets which a child or young person would currently have access to, or benefit from, in the course of their lives, from antenatal through to their 18 th birthday. [15]

With the case studies, a variety of scenarios will be needed in order to reflect the wide range of childhood experiences. Particular attention will need to be paid to children with needs of a particular type (such as looked after children, children with a disability, children with an additional support need in learning or children involved in or at risk of offending), and the wide range of services which have a (potentially) significant effect on their wellbeing.

As the scope of the Children's Services Plan is all local services provided (by the organisations listed in section 7(2)) "wholly or mainly to, or for the benefit of, children generally" as well as those services which have " the capacity to have a significant effect on the wellbeing of children" it will be necessary to look beyond just services provided directly to children and young people (such as nursery, school, etc.). Consideration will need to be given to services provided to adults by virtue of their role as children's parents or carers (such as parenting classes, support groups, etc.), as these services are likely to be provided "for the benefit" of children. In addition, a number of services provided to adults, regardless of their relationship to a child may have significant effects on a child's wellbeing (such as adult drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services).

It is also worth noting that children and young people utilise many community services, such as libraries, public transport and leisure centres. Lack of access to services of this type has the potential to significantly affect their wellbeing. The availability of public transport, for instance, may play a role in determining the accessibility of services or initiatives provided for looked after children. To ensure the case study exercise is as robust as possible, all such interactions should be included.

When populating the case studies with information, it may be helpful to make reference to local directories of services and community support, such as ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland), a Scottish Government funded platform designed to help people identify local health and wellbeing resources.

When the various case studies are complete, you should have a comprehensive list of the services used by (directly or indirectly) children, young people and families. Using this list, local authorities and their relevant health boards can then determine which of the services fall into either (or neither) of the categories - a children's service or a related service.

Step 3: Consultation

Under section 10(1)(a) of Part 3, a local authority and the relevant health board are under a duty to give each of the other service providers and the Scottish Ministers an effective opportunity (consistent with the extent to which the services they provide are to be the subject of the children's services plan) to participate in or contribute to the preparation of the plan and these service providers and the Scottish Ministers are required by section 10(5) to do so.

Under section 10(1)(b), the local authority and the relevant health board are under a duty to consult with:

  • such organisations, whether or not formally constituted, which -

(a) represent the interests of persons who use or are likely to use any children's service in the area of the local authority, or

(b) provide a service in the area which, if it were provided by the local authority, relevant health board, "other service provider" or Scottish Ministers, would be a "children's service" or a "related service";

  • such social landlords as appear to provide housing in the area of the local authority; and
  • such other persons as Scottish Ministers may specify.

Those who are to be consulted (in the list above) are required by section 10(6) to meet any reasonable request which the local authority and relevant health board make of them to participate in the preparation of the children's services plans for the area and to contribute to the preparation of the plan.

Within these groups, local authorities and health boards may wish to give particular attention to obtaining the views of children and young people, across all ages, socio-economic groups and types of need. GIRFEC places the child's views at the centre of planning and decision making and the UNCRC requires national and local governments, as duty bearers, to respect, protect and fulfil children's rights (e.g. under Article 12 every child has a right to express their views and have them given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity). But also, in respect to strategic services planning, consultation with children and young people should provide critical, valuable information about the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in existing service provision.

Step 4: Analysis of population need

Reviews of existing plans, scenario mapping and consultation (steps 1 - 3 above) should provide much useful information about which existing services should be included in a Children's Services Plan. However, as the plan should be a forward looking document (outlining the services which will be provided, over the three-year period, to meet the population's needs) it will also need to describe the services which will be developed in the future. To complete that process, a local authority and health board are likely to need detailed information about the local population's wellbeing needs.

Consultation with services users may provide part of the answer to this question, but on its own it cannot represent a thorough assessment of population need. That requires the analysis of a wide range of evidence, including (but not restricted to) service-level data (referrals, demographics of service users, etc.), population wellbeing surveys (such as those carried out under the Realigning Children's Services programme) and existing indicators (immunisation rates, school attendance, etc.).

Taken together, these sources of information will present a detailed picture of how the local population use local services, and where there are wellbeing issues which services are not currently adequately addressing. Such an analysis should help to determine which services need to be included in the plan.

44. Whatever method(s) a local authority and health board choose to identify the services to be covered by their Children's Services Plan, it is important that it is a thorough and transparent process. The Act (and this guidance) has avoided being prescriptive about which services to include in order to ensure local authorities and health boards have the autonomy, in collaboration with relevant partners, to make decisions which reflect local context and assessments of need. But in exercising that autonomy, local authorities and health boards should keep the purpose of Children's Services Plans clearly in focus to: articulate how various services will work together to best safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of all children in the area concerned; ensure that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest appropriate time and that, where appropriate, action is taken to prevent needs arising; be most integrated from the point of view of recipients; and constitute the best use of available resources.

The three-year period

45. Section 8(1) states that a local authority and the relevant health board must, in respect of each three-year period, prepare a Children's Services Plan for the area of the local authority.

46. The first three-year period begins on such date as Scottish Ministers may specify, following the coming into force of Part 3. The Children's Services Planning (Specified Date) (Scotland) Order 2016 specified 1 April 2017 as the date that the first three year Children's Services Plan is required to be in place. This means that the first "three-year period" runs from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2020, and that the first Children's Services Plan must be prepared by 1 April 2017. A local authority and the relevant health board are obligated to prepare a new Children's Services Plan for each subsequent period of three years (section 8(2)(b)).

Where a Children's Services Plan is already in place at the start of the three-year period

47. A local authority and the relevant health board may have, prior to commencement of Part 3, prepared a Children's Services Plan which is associated with a different time period to that specified by Scottish Ministers. (For instance the plan could cover the years 2015 to 2018.) In such instances the local authority and relevant health board would need to consider whether the existing plan meets the requirements set out in Part 3 of the Act, and adapt this plan to the initial three year period (1 April 2017 - 31 March 2020) so that a new plan, potentially based on parts of the original plan, is in place on 1 April 2017. However, it is important that all such plans (as well as the processes which informed the plan) meet the requirements under the legislation (and as described in this guidance). Please note that, regardless of when a Children's Services Plan was originally prepared, from April 2017 all Part 3 duties will apply, including those related to review (section 11), implementation (section 12) and reporting (section 13).


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