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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 9: Aims Of Children's Services Plans

110 page PDF

879.7kB

Section 9: Aims Of Children's Services Plans

48. Section 9 sets out the strategic aims for a Children's Services Plan. Under these provisions every Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to securing the achievement of the following five aims [16] :

(a) that "children's services" in the area are provided in the way which -

(i) best safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of children in the area concerned,
(ii) ensures that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest appropriate time and that, where appropriate, action is taken to prevent needs arising,
(iii) is most integrated from the point of view of recipients, and
(iv) constitutes the best use of available resources,

(b) that "related services" in the area are provided in the way which, so far as consistent with the objects and proper delivery of the service concerned, safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of children in the area concerned.

49. Taken together, these aims are about creating and maintaining a local environment which facilitates effective GIRFEC practice for individual children and young people. The Children's Services Plan itself is the description of how public bodies and their partners will work together to achieve this, providing services which are organised and equipped to deliver high-quality, joined-up, responsive and, where possible, preventative support to children and families.

(i) Best safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of children in the area concerned

50. A Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to providing services in such a way that they best safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of all children and young people in the local area. The purpose of this aim is to put the concept of "wellbeing" firmly at the heart of children's services planning. In turn, it should mean that children's services across the local authority area operate on a holistic and multi-dimensional understanding of "wellbeing", in which all the various aspects of a child's life are seen as interrelated, and given due consideration in the course of assessment and support.

51. The eight wellbeing indicators were developed as part of the GIRFEC approach which aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland. The GIRFEC approach was built up from the UNCRC, and requires those who work with children and young people to put children at the centre of their day-to-day practice. Putting children at the centre realises all UNCRC Articles, but in particular highlights the requirement to consider the best interests of the child (Article 3) and the need for children's views to be taken into account when decisions are being made about them (Article 12). (Please refer to Appendix 3 "Links between Wellbeing Indicators and the Articles of the UNCRC" in the Guidance on Part 1 (Duties of Public Authorities in Relation to the UNCRC) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.)

52. Section 96(2) of the Act identifies eight "wellbeing indicators", to which all assessments of wellbeing must refer. The wellbeing indicators are:

Safe - protected from abuse, neglect or harm at home, at school and in the community.

Healthy - having the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, access to suitable healthcare, and support in learning to make healthy and safe choices.

Achieving - being supported and guided in learning and in the development of skills, confidence and self-esteem, at home, in school and in the community.

Nurtured - having a nurturing place to live in a family setting, with additional help if needed, or, where this is not possible, in a suitable care setting.

Active - having opportunities to take part in activities such as play, recreation and sport, which contribute to healthy growth and development, at home, in school and in the community.

Respected - having the opportunity, along with carers, to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them.

Responsible - having opportunities and encouragement to play active and responsible roles at home, in school and in the community, and where necessary, having appropriate guidance and supervision, being involved in decisions that affect them.

Included - helping to overcome social, education, physical and economic inequalities, and being accepted as part of the community in which they live and learn.

53. These eight wellbeing indicators are sometimes known collectively by the acronym SHANARRI. In practice, the eight indicators are not discrete, but are connected and overlapping. When considered together, they give a holistic view of each child or young person, and allow the child or young person, and the adults supporting them, to consider strengths as well as barriers to growth and development.

54. In relation to the concept of wellbeing, the terms "safeguards", "supports" and "promotes" should be taken to mean:

Safeguards - protects from harm or damage.

Supports - gives assistance, approval, encouragement.

Promotes - actively encourages or further develops.

55. For further guidance on "wellbeing", and implementation of the GIRFEC approach in general, please refer to the information available on the GIRFEC webpages. [17]

Ensures that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest appropriate time and that, where appropriate, action is taken to prevent needs arising

56. A Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to providing children's services in such a way that they are able to take action to support children at the earliest appropriate time, to prevent needs arising. This aim is about making sure children, young people and families get the right support at the right time. Whenever feasible, the "right time" will be before a child's wellbeing is adversely affected ("primary prevention"). But where that is not possible, support for the child should be secured as soon as possible after wellbeing starts to be adversely affected ("early intervention"). Planning should also recognise the role of interventions to address needs and risk. A Children's Services Plan must therefore be prepared with a view to securing children's services which can fulfil both "primary prevention" and "early intervention", across all aspects of wellbeing.

57. To explain further, "primary prevention" means providing the child, young person and parents/carers with the support they need in order to prevent the child or young person from experiencing adversity. Effective primary prevention is usually characterised by:

  • support and help being directed to parents, carers and families, as well as the child directly;
  • support being provided in the first few years of child's life (pre-birth to pre-school); and
  • children, young people and families work with the wider community to improve their quality of life.

58. In a similar vein, "early intervention" means working with children, young people and families as soon as there are signs of difficulty. It is about recognising that wellbeing needs may emerge at any age, without warning, and that the speed of the response makes a significant difference to how successful services can be in helping to address the need. Indeed, effective early intervention constitutes good preventative action, because it often prevents further and more severe difficulties arising. Examples of early intervention might include the support put around a child after the first incident of domestic abuse in the home, support given to a child involved in offending or the provision of additional support to a child who is beginning to struggle with their learning. [18]

59. However, irrespective of whether a service is orientated towards primary prevention or early intervention, the aim of a Children's Services Plan is to detail how partners will identify and address needs. This will mean working with, and through, families, communities, universal services and specialist services, including third sector services. This has important implications for the process of children's services planning.

60. Firstly, success will be influenced by the effective implementation of the GIRFEC approach across all universal and specialist children's services. Through this approach service providers and their staff collaborate with each other and work in partnership with children, young people and their families to identify and address the wellbeing needs of individual children and young people. Children's Services Plans, which are strategic, should provide the framework for the planning of services, so that GIRFEC can be implemented effectively at a local level. This would include governance and quality assurance arrangements.

61. Secondly, to prevent needs arising planners will want to know: (a) what kind of needs currently (or are likely to) exist across the population of children and young people; and (b) what kinds of services and support actually work to prevent those needs developing further. To answer either of these questions planners will require information, coming from multiple sources (such as community engagement, consultation with children and young people, professional assessment, research) and in multiple forms (qualitative and quantitative). Children's services planning partners should give proper consideration to what and how information is collected to inform the Children's Services Plan.

(ii) Is most integrated from the point of view of recipients

62. A Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to providing children's services in such a way that they appear to be "integrated" from the perspective of "recipients" (i.e. children, young people, carers and families). In the context of children's services planning, "most integrated" refers to cooperation between providers of children's services, working together to ensure services are planned and delivered in a way which best meets the needs of children and families. Successful realisation of this aim will mean that a child or family receives only the support they need, when they need it, from the service best placed to provide it. An "integrated" service also means that children and families will be able, as their needs change, to move easily between different services (whether universal or targeted), confident that they will have access to appropriate support at every stage. This will be particularly important for vulnerable young people moving out of children's services and into "adult services" in areas such as disability, social care, mental health, drug and alcohol treatment etc.

63. In the context of children's services planning, it is important to note that "integration" does not refer to the formal delegation of functions (such as that taking place within adult health and social care). The focus here is on securing a joined-up approach, between local partners, to service planning and delivery. This joined-up approach is one of the foundations of GIRFEC, and a key pillar of the Scottish Government's public service reform programme. It requires collaboration at every level (i.e. strategic, operational, frontline), and across all service providers, whether public or third sector. The process of children's services planning is, in itself, a critical opportunity through which to embed the joined-up approach, bringing together all relevant parties to agree priorities and actions. Indeed, it will only be through close cooperation of local planning partners that all the links and key transition points between services will be identified, and a suitable plan put in place to make these more "integrated" from the perspective of children and families.

64. In enhancing the partnership and cooperation between service providers at the front line, this aim of children's services planning should also help the local area to maximise the use of available resources through reduced duplication of activity, and the identification of, and subsequent investment in, the most successful interventions.

(iii) Constitutes the best use of available resources

65. A Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to providing services in such a way as constitutes the best use of available resources. This means that the plan should make clear how children's services are going to be provided in a way which allows them to complement and enhance each other (rather than impede or duplicate each other). It also means that the children's services provided should be, in themselves, efficient and effective.

66. This aim is therefore about securing "best value" from the services available in a local area. That is "best value" measured in terms of results, not just resources. In respect of children's services planning, the aim is set out clearly (in section 9(2)): the provision of services which best safeguard, support and promote child wellbeing in the local area.

67. This aim (of securing and improving child wellbeing) will be achieved, in part, through the provision of preventative and joined-up services (see aims (ii) and (iii) above). In eliminating the duplication of processes (such as assessments), improving communication throughout the system, ensuring the best placed person provides the support to a child or family, and intervening early, the GIRFEC approach should help local areas to make the best use of their resources. But critically, intervening early and coordinating activity will not, in themselves, deliver positive results. The support provided needs to be both appropriate and of quality, for an ineffective or inappropriate intervention is unlikely to ever constitute the best use of available resources.

68. Children's services planning partners, therefore, need to give careful consideration to how they will evaluate the effectiveness of children's services (both universal and targeted), in terms of their success in responding to and addressing children's wellbeing needs. This process will require information on the costs and outcomes of services to be collected and analysed, supplemented by qualitative evaluation (feedback from children, families, etc.).

69. With its focus on securing children's services in such a way that they constitute the best use of available resources, children's services planning should be seen as a strategic commissioning process. That is one based on thorough assessments of population need (current and projected), and an informed understanding about which services/interventions work most effectively (in terms of costs and outcomes) to help children and families. (For further details about the strategic commissioning of children's services, please refer to the ' Introduction', the chapter on ' Children's Services Plan - Process', and Appendix D: Care Inspectorate's 10 Steps to Successful Children's Services Planning).

b) Related services […] provided in the way which […] safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of children

70. The final strategic aim of a Children's Services Plan is focused on the provision of related services. Under section 9(2)(b) a Children's Services Plan must be prepared with a view to providing related services in such a way that they (insofar as is consistent with the objects and proper delivery of the service concerned) safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of children in the area concerned.

71. "Related services" are those services provided in the local authority area by (a) the local authority, (b) the relevant health board, (c) an "other service provider", or (d) Scottish Ministers (in exercising the functions under the Prisons (Scotland) Act 1989), which, although they do not fall into the definition of a "children's service", are still capable of having a significant effect on the wellbeing of children and young people.

72. Every local authority and relevant health board will make their own determination about which public services meet the definition of a "related service" in their local area. Once that has been agreed, the Children's Services Plan must then detail, with a view to achieving this aim, how those related services will be delivered in a way which safeguards, supports and promotes children's wellbeing. This requirement mirrors that placed on "children's services" by section 9(2)(a)(i), and it demands that related services have an understanding of the concept of "wellbeing", and that they are provided in such a way that they can respond positively and proactively to individual children's (and by association families') needs. For example, if housing were to be included as a "related service", a Children's Services Plan could explain how housing will contribute to keeping children safe and healthy.

73. However, the aim of securing related services which safeguard, support and promote children's wellbeing must be done so in a way which is "consistent with the objects and proper delivery of the service[s] concerned" (section 9(2)(b)). This means that, while related services must be focused on meeting children's wellbeing needs, they can only do so within the parameters afforded by their primary function(s). To return to the housing example, the primary function of this service is to provide housing options and support to the community, therefore its contribution to this aim will be made (primarily) through the provision of high-quality housing options and support to families and young people.

Local outcomes and objectives

74. While all Children's Services Plans must be prepared with a view to securing the achievement of the aims set out in section 9, Scottish Ministers have not set specific outcomes. This is to provide a local authority and the relevant health board with the flexibility to identify outcomes and objectives which correspond to local needs and context (i.e. demographics, community assets, resources, etc.), and to ensure that the Children's Services Plan can be linked into the "local outcomes improvement plan", the Health and Social Care Strategic Plan, and other relevant local plans.

75. A local authority and relevant health board should also ensure that relevant national outcomes and objectives are reflected in the Children's Services Plan. This includes the national commitment to reducing child poverty. The Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland provides a detailed outcomes framework to start to tackle the underlying causes of poverty, and a set of specific indicators with which to measure progress. [19] It is recommended that both outcomes and indicators are reflected in the Children's Services Plan.

76. The outcomes and/or objectives identified by a local authority and the relevant health board should be consulted on with partners. This will be particularly relevant in respect of the "progress indicators" chosen, where a specific metric (e.g. immunisation rates) may be used to evidence progress and/or contribution towards realising improved child wellbeing (healthier, safer, respected, etc.).

Children's rights in the context of the children's services planning aims

77. The guidance on the Scottish Government's Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments [20] summarises children's rights and wellbeing.

78. Children's rights and wellbeing are both central to the Act, and implementation of the UNCRC is central to making Scotland the best place to grow up. It may be helpful therefore (particularly in terms of fulfilling duties under Part 1 of the Act), to consider "to secure better or further effect …. of the UNCRC requirements" during the development of the Children's Services Plan. Using both rights and wellbeing to inform the structural, procedural and outcome framework of a Children's Services Plan offers potential advantages. For example, this approach could be useful for improving proactive interventions that benefit target groups of children over the longer term and also to identify progress in terms of local rights based services agendas.(For further information, please refer to the Guidance on Part 1 (Duties of Public Authorities in Relation to the UNCRC) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.)


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