Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill
Voice Official Response 2008:
The aims of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill are admirable. However, care must be taken to ensure that the principles of the Bill are in fact able to be applied in practice to ensure success. We would not wish for the aims of the Bill to merely be aspirational, in practice. In our view it will therefore be essential for the matters within the Bill to be explored in greater detail and for the appropriate resources to be ring-fenced to enable the proposals to be realised.
Our particular comments are as follows:
- It is noted that the Bill makes no mention of out of school care, which is currently a non-statutory service. It is our organisation’s view that the cost of out of school care also requires to be addressed.
- It is noted that the Commissioner can investigate the extent to which a service provider has regard to the rights, interests and views of children. Further detail on this procedure is required. For example, would such an investigation be carried out jointly with other bodies? Would there be a right to review previous investigation outcomes? Would there be a right of appeal?
- With regards to the GIRFEC key element: “a lead professional where there are particularly complex needs or where different agencies need to work together”, with the CAF model in mind, the question arises as to whether legislation is in fact required.
- We would agree that staff training is a key requirement in the successful implementation of the GIRFEC approach. It is of concern that to date there has been no systematic, on-going and development opportunities for education staff in this respect. CPD is an area which tends to suffer in terms of funding when budgets are tight. It is our view that investment in training, for all professionals working with children, is essential for success in the GIRFEC approach. Detail of how this training would be delivered is required. For example, would there be shared, single, basic training in relation to the principles and purpose of GIRFEC, with individual local authorities providing a second stage of training regarding their own local approach?
- With regards to the proposed statutory duties in relation to GIRFEC, particularly the role of the named person, there is a danger that planning and reporting takes precedent over “doing” or carrying out actions which may be required. Our organisation considers that workload pressures would be a concern and would impact upon the effectiveness of GIRFEC in practice. Workload issues therefore need to be identified and addressed; a working group to consider workload and avoidance of bureaucracy for those working with children may be beneficial in this respect.
- With regards to the plan relating to services in the local authority area, it is noted that health boards could be involved in more than one plan. It is essential that support for health boards in undertaking a co-ordination role is provided. The question also arises as to how health boards can align priorities with all local authorities within their boundary areas. This will require particular consideration in line with the extended duty to co-operate.
- We agree with the view expressed that, with regards to Single Outcome Agreements, there is a mis-match with the Bill’s proposals. This now needs to be addressed. Additionally, consideration must be given to what issues this will highlight, operationally. For example, duplication of effort needs to be avoided.
- Details of how a particular single child’s plan is to be managed, in the event that they move between local authorities, needs to be provided.
- With regards to the named person service, further detail is required regarding the maximum upper age. For example, in relation to those individuals with special needs. The position of teenage parents also requires consideration. Would three separate named people be involved, for each of the parents and child, and how would they liaise with one another?
- With regards to children in secure accommodation, it is noted from the statistics that a minority remain in such accommodation after six months. We would therefore submit that there may be a case for there being an externally named person, rather than the manager of the secured accommodation, for continuity purposes.
- Consultation responses to date had suggested that a nursery manager might be a more appropriate named person for children attending pre-school education. Consideration will also require to be given to the role of private day care managers and child minders as named persons.
- With regards to the involvement of a named person and concerns regarding the position of parents, it is our organisation’s view that the role of the named person should not extend to representation of a child’s best interests in potential conflicts with different agencies and parents/corporate parents.
- Care will need to be taken to ensure that assumptions are not made about who will require intervention or the circumstances where children will require the intervention of a named person. How inclusive is this?
- With regards to the financial memorandum, clarification of how this was calculated would be helpful. It is essential that the potential costs of implementation of the proposals are considered in full.
- We agree with the proposal that school attendance at Hearings will be facilitated and that information on a child’s education is available for Childrens’ Panel members. School and nursery staff may have the greatest insight in this respect, due to their level of contact with children and young people on a daily basis. However, workload demands will require to be considered to ensure that this can operate in practice.
- With regards to Section 45(1)(b) of the Bill, with regards to an education authority assessing whether a 2 year old requires an alternative to early learning and childcare, any potential conflict with the responsibilities of the health boards requires consideration.
- Staff will require clarity upon sharing requirements when concerns exist at a lower level, to ensure that staff are confident in their approach in such circumstances. I.e. how is the test of proportionality to be applied in practice? It is essential in our organisation’s view that the guidance to be provided covers this aspect in detail.
- With regards to page 21 of the SPICe briefing, we note reference to the specific grant in England, within the Standards Fund. We would note that this was not the amount paid to most parents. The position is variable across England and varies according to provider type. There is now a single funding formula within each local authority.
- With regards to kinship care specifically, we would be interested to hear of any plans to clarify who would be disqualified from kinship care support because they are a “parent”.
Senior Professional Officer (Scotland)