This item was published during the term of a previous administration that ended in April 2007
Final warning for failing child protectors
If the child protection system continues to fail children it will be replaced, a high-level child protection summit was told today.
First Minister Jack McConnell was speaking in Glasgow at the summit convened after a major review of all child protection services which found that over half of children at risk of abuse or neglect were not adequately protected or cared for.
Many failures in the child protection system have been blamed on senior managers in child protection organisations.
The First Minister said:
"We need urgent action before another Kennedy McFarlane or Caleb Ness dies at the hands of the very person who is supposed to be caring for them.
"Those who run the system have a personal responsibility to radically improve child protection and help children realise their potential.
"We have allocated resources and acted on the recommendations, but locally, professional boundaries cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the job we must all do. Scotland's children need to see those barriers removed. They need us all to show leadership and give them the service they have the right to expect. New investment must be matched by reform.
"Radical improvements are essential. But the bottom line is that if the system goes on failing to protect children, then we will not protect the system.
"The least we owe to the tragic victims of abuse or neglect is to give those vulnerable children an absolute guarantee that professional services will not let them down. This is a fundamental right for the 21 st century."
The Summit brought together senior local authority, health, police and voluntary sector representatives to thrash out action on the Executive's five-point response to the child protection review.
The immediate action to be taken was:
- a three-year reform programme for child protection services
- an expert team to oversee reform and tackle poor performance locally
- a tough new inspection system to ensure reform is delivered
- a Children's Charter setting out the support that every child has the right to expect
- increased investment in helplines, including cash to allow Childline Scotland to increase by 60% the number of children it helps
Minister for Young People, Cathy Jamieson, said:
"We are giving those responsible for running child protection services three years to put things right. Some may complain that this is not enough time but it is a deliberately tight timescale.
"If we continue to drag our heels then more children will die and society will have failed in its duty to protect our children."
The Executive has developed an outline three-year reform programme for agreement and views were also sought on the expert team which will oversee the reform programme and tackle poor performance locally.
A tough new inspection system is being put in place to hold all those delivering child protection to account. The key inspectorates have already met and agreed that the inspections will be against common standards. The inspection report will be published to increase public accountability.
The First Minister also announced that the Executive has commissioned Save the Children to develop a Children's Charter by August to set out the support that every child has the right to expect.
Save the Children will consult with children and young people, parents and professionals, to produce the Charter which will have a significant impact on the reforms.
Mr McConnell also revealed that ChildLine are on course to open their new Aberdeen Centre in the Autumn. This follows immediate increases in investment by the Executive in helplines to boost significantly the number of children they can help.
An audit and review of child protection was announced by the Scottish Executive in March 2001 following the Hammond report into the of Kennedy McFarlane. The multi-disciplinary team were asked to review how well our children are being protected by the range of agencies that work with them. The review team's report It's everyone's job to make sure I'm alright (a quote from a child interviewed by the team) was published on November 25, 2002.
Investment in the Changing Children's Services Fund, which funds innovative projects which join up services for vulnerable and disadvantaged, will double from £33 million to £65.5 million between 2002-03 and 2005-06. This was announced by Cathy Jamieson at the Barnado's Conference on November 22 last year.