Getting it right for every child: Draft Children’s Services (Scotland) Bill Consultation

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2 - Getting it right for every child - the wider project

Introduction

2.1 No matter where they live or whatever their needs, children and families need to know where they can seek help, what help is available, that the help is appropriate to their needs and will be delivered to the highest possible standard. Getting it right for every child will enable everyone involved in children's services to deliver on this and improve outcomes whilst involving children and families in finding solutions to their needs.

2.2 Getting it right for every child is the programme for change that will revolutionise services for children. It gives clear authority and responsibility to agencies, professionals, children, families and local communities, to work together in a way that brings practicality and reality to the vision for Scotland's children.

2.3 This draft Bill is only a small part of the wider project to implement Getting it right for every child. The project is an ambitious programme and a significant challenge for all those who work with children. It requires a fundamental shift in how children are helped and supported.

2.4 In June 2006 the Scottish Executive published its implementation plan for Getting it right for every child. This set out our approach to the reform of children's services in three areas:

  • Practice change: In consultation with parents, children and professionals we will develop the tools professionals need in order to do their jobs better - a child's record and plan involving integrated assessment of need, practice guidance and skills development. We will provide information for parents and practitioners. We will support a number of 'pathfinder' projects that will work differently with families and children, placing their needs at the centre.
  • Removing barriers: We will find out what gets in the way of joined-up working and what prevents more timely and appropriate responses. We will undertake change where this is necessary - structural, financial, legislative, cultural. The pathfinder projects will provide an opportunity to identify these barriers and identify those which require changes from the centre and those which can be tackled locally.
  • Legislation: We will place new duties on agencies to co-operate with each other and share information. We also plan to place a new duty on professionals to be alert to the needs of children and take action to meet them.

2.5 With legislation covered in the draft Bill and other parts of this consultation document, this chapter discusses the other areas of activity taking place to implement Getting it right for every child. We hope that this will provide a helpful context to consideration of the draft legislation.

2.6 Further detail is provided in the Getting it right for every child Implementation Plan (Scottish Executive, June 2006).

Key Messages:

2.7 Services for children in Scotland are changing so that:

  • Children and young people get the help they need when they need it and are central to the process of finding solutions.
  • Everyone working with children and young people uses a consistent and equitable approach and works more effectively together to improve outcomes for children and young people.
  • Everyone is clear of their personal responsibility to do the right thing for each child and how they contribute to the collective responsibility to do the right thing for each child.
  • Parents and children benefit from a collaborative approach which results in fewer meetings, require them to give their information only once, and jointly develop with professionals one plan that will meet all of their needs.
  • Agencies and professionals are freed up to get on and respond to children and take appropriate, proportionate and timely action with the minimum of paperwork, bureaucracy and duplication.

2.8 Scottish Ministers are committed to reforming the delivery of children's services to place a greater focus on improving outcomes for children and to create a Scotland in which every child matters, where every child, regardless of their family background, has the best possible start in life.

Vision for Children

2.9 Scotland's children and young people should be confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens.

2.10 To achieve this, children need to be safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, respected, responsible and included.

What Children Need - The Children's Charter

2.11 As children and young people, we have a right to be protected and be safe from harm from others. When we have difficulties or problems we expect you to:

  • Get to know us, speak with us and listen to us
  • Take us seriously and involve us
  • Respect our privacy
  • Be responsible to us
  • Think about our lives as a whole
  • Think carefully about how you use information about us
  • Put us in touch with the right people
  • Use your power to help
  • Make things happen when they should
  • Help us be safe

2.12 Children and young people are central to Getting it right for every child which seeks to provide practical support, tools, guidance, and where necessary, legislation, to ensure we all work together for Scotland's children.

What will be different?

2.13 Getting it right for every child is for all children and young people and applies to all services that work with children, parents and carers. It promotes a clear vision of services working together and requires agencies and professionals to focus first on improving outcomes for the child, rather than what services a child can get. This means:

2.14 For children, families and communities:

  • Children get the help they need it when they need it.
  • Help is proportionate, timely and appropriate.
  • Action improves each child's situation and reduces risk.
  • The approach supports the achievement of good outcomes, demonstrated through Children's Plan targets, for all children.
  • Children and families experience a co-ordinated and unified approach to having their needs met.
  • Children and families say they know about the services and support available to them, have confidence in using them; believe their needs are being addressed and their views heard.
  • Communities are engaged in activities that support and protect children.
  • Communities are more confident about the responsibilities of services and how community concerns are being dealt with.

2.15 For staff:

  • Staff (at all levels) have more time to spend on activities that will improve outcomes for children, and less in duplication and overlap (including fewer reports, meetings and discrete records).
  • Staff know what to do if they have a concern about a child, the response pathways are clear, and they can be confident of the response of others in the child's network.
  • Staff are supported by their agency and other professionals and have the skills, knowledge and tools to improve children's lives.
  • Staff are alert to all the needs and concerns of children, even if it falls outside their immediate area of expertise.

2.16 For the agency:

  • There are effective polices, processes, structures and tools for the delivery of good outcomes. These are integrated into practice all levels and are sustainable beyond the efforts of individuals.
  • Agencies individually and collectively know how well they are doing, can account for their performance and there are mechanisms in place to resolve difficulties, improve performance.

Our priorities

2.17 Our priorities are:

  • To improve outcomes for all children and fulfil the pledge contained in the Children's Charter.
  • To regain the trust and confidence of children and young people and ensure professionals are there for them and will listen to them.
  • To value and reward professionals who champion the rights and well-being of children and ensure children get the help they need when they need it.
  • To work with communities to help them understand and support young people whilst protecting the safety and peace of local neighbourhoods.

How will we do it?

2.18 Getting it right for every child is at the heart of public service reform. Along with a range of other developments in children's services and across the public sector, it will:

  • require services to focus on meeting the needs of children, not the needs of professionals or agencies;
  • provide tools to assist in the redesign of services to meet the needs of each child as an individual and find solutions for them;
  • require services to integrate around the child rather than the child having to navigate their way through a number of services;
  • ensure parents and children (and other service users such as carers) find their own solutions to problems through the provision of information, education and support;
  • ensure and enable parents to take responsibility for their children while protecting those children whose parents cannot or will not do so;
  • provide the tools (plans, technology, data standards, guidance, protocols and training materials) for agencies to join up and remove the barriers for doing so;
  • remove duplication and create efficiencies that can be ploughed back into direct work with children and families;
  • make the best use of modern technology to share information whilst protecting against unnecessary sharing;

2.19 The Getting it right and public sector reform agendas are dependent on a number of key Scottish Executive policies and work streams including information sharing and technology, professional capacity building, service development/improvement and performance scrutiny - not only in children's services but in adult services too. The Getting it right team will work with colleagues across the Scottish Executive, pathfinder projects and external partners to ensure a joined up approach to the developments.

2.20 The implementation of Getting it right for every child is focussed on three areas - practice change, legislation and removal of barriers to implementation.

Practice change

2.21 The proposed legislation is an important part of the Getting it right agenda. However a number of the proposed improvements do not need to wait on the law changing: they require practice change and agency commitment.

2.22 The Scottish Executive is supporting this change in a number of ways:

  • Children, parents and practitioners are working together to redesign how agencies support children and respond to concerns about them. The Scottish Executive is supporting these 'pathfinder' projects by the provision of expertise in child development, research, IT, project management and changing business processes.
  • Writing up and evaluating findings from the pathfinders so that learning can be disseminated.
  • Developing new practice tools based on what children and families need for national use including the design and creation of data standards and content of agency information systems.

Supporting staff

2.23 The Scottish Executive is supporting staff by doing the following:

  • The Scottish Executive will provide guidance for professionals and panel members on their new roles, the assessment record and plan, legislation and new ways of working. We will also provide information on how the reform programme is progressing - what works and what does not.
  • We will assist all areas and agencies across Scotland to become 'change ready' by disseminating the learning from the pathfinder areas. We are supporting the Pathfinder projects with resources for development and project management.

National implementation and oversight

2.24 There are a number of mechanisms for national implementation and oversight:

  • The Scottish Executive has established a Children's Services Steering Group. The membership of this group includes key stakeholders from children's services, health, the voluntary sector and police. This group will have a strategic overview of the implementation of reforms in children's services.
  • Working groups and networks, with membership from all sectors, will consider the detail of legislation including work to consider the specific changes proposed to the Children's Hearing system.
  • The Scottish Executive will work with community groups, and families and children to ensure that their voices are heard in this process. We wish to build on existing community networks and organisations and we are appointing a young person to work with the Scottish Executive team. We are developing other ways of reaching these groups such as websites and electronic magazines.
  • A national communication network is being created to ensure effective two-way communication with stakeholders and the provision of regular updates.

Removal of barriers to implementation

2.25 The Scottish Executive is committed to removing barriers to effective working:

  • The Scottish Executive will find out what gets in the way of joined-up working and what prevents more timely and appropriate responses. We will undertake change where this is necessary - structural, financial, legislative, cultural.
  • The pathfinder projects will provide an opportunity to identify these barriers and identify those which require changes from the centre and those which can be tackled locally.