CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
Policy and Legislative Background
1.1 In its strategic consultation document entitled "Putting our Communities First: A Strategy for Tackling Anti-social Behaviour" (2003) and under the heading of 'Parenting Orders-Putting Children First', the Scottish Executive noted that there was "…a small minority of parents who do not fulfil their parental responsibilities" (Scottish Executive 2003:35). As a consequence, the document stated, such parents put their children and their communities at risk. Parenting Orders (' POs') were to be targeted at "…those who deliberately or recklessly fail their children".
1.2 Parenting orders introduced compulsory measures designed to support people to improve their parenting where they have been identified as needing help with their parenting skills. The measure is aimed only those parents who have refused to engage with voluntary support services where poor parenting has been identified as an issue. In its consultation document, the Scottish Executive noted that, prior to a Parenting Order being pursued, a parent will have been offered "relevant and targeted services" and will have demonstrated that they were not willing to engage with those services in the interests of their child. On that basis, the purpose of the Parenting Order would be to require the parent to undertake certain actions that would lead to reducing the offending or antisocial behaviour of their child or to improvements in the welfare of the child (Scottish Executive 2003:37).
1.3 The Scottish Executive's consultation document outlined those circumstances under which a Parenting Order might be applied for on welfare grounds. It suggested that there would have been a number of referrals to the Reporter and the parents would have been offered help with which they had not engaged. As a consequence, the Children's Hearing would be considering, as the next step, the possibility of removing the child from its parents.
1.4 Finally, the consultation advised that families being considered for a Parenting Order sometimes had dealings with a number of local authorities and other services and that it would be important for applications to draw all relevant information together and consider the family circumstances as a whole (Scottish Executive 2003:38).
1.5 Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004 (Commencement and Savings) Order 2004, and measures in Part 9 of the 2004 Act came into force on 4 April 2005 allowing parenting orders to be applied for. Prior to implementation, the Scottish Executive issued a further consultation document in December 2004 on Draft Guidance on Parenting Orders. The document acknowledged there was not universal agreement about the need to introduce Parenting Orders in Scotland. It noted, nonetheless, that Ministers remained of the view that Parenting Orders would be a useful tool for improving the position of children who suffered because of deficient parenting. (Scottish Executive 2004: paragraph 3). The consultation document promised that the legislation would be supported by advice and guidance (which was the subject of the consultation) and by a framework document that would assist in ensuring consistent practice, setting standards for assessment and service provision (paragraph 6).
1.6 The draft guidance covered relevant issues under the umbrella of 'parenting services', such as strategic planning, assessment and referral, and voluntary intervention. In the context of POs, the draft guidance covered such matters as when a PO might be considered, managing a PO and reviewing and breaching a PO. The finalised guidance was issued by the Scottish Executive in April 2005.
1.7 A comprehensive framework document was commissioned from the Aberlour Trust, with the aim of offering advice on how best to implement the guidance, and a draft was provided to LAs. The document sought to illustrate best practice; outline key indicators for effective practice; and encourage consistent implementation of strategic planning, development and practice (Scottish Executive, 2005a:4).
1.8 The framework document also emphasised the need for LAs to consider all parenting support services when developing their strategies for the use of POs. Such strategies, the document noted, should take into account interventions at different stages of families' lives and not only their problematic moments.
1.9 The final version of the framework was published by the Scottish Executive in March 2007 and offered advice to LAs, Children's Panel members, Reporters and other relevant agencies on working with parents to improve their parenting and outlining where POs fit into a continuum of services, from voluntary support to compulsory measures (Scottish Executive, 2007: 1). The framework also set POs within the wider government policy on 'getting it right for every child' (Scottish Executive, 2005b).
National Pilot Evaluation
1.10 Parenting Orders were introduced across Scotland following commencement of the 2004 Act on 4 April 2005 as part of a three year national pilot intended to focus on systems and practice for their successful implementation and operation. A proposal to evaluate the Parenting Orders pilot in Scotland was accepted by the Scottish Executive in 2005, the five main aspects of which were:
- A baseline mapping of existing parenting services
- A two-fold process evaluation, the first stage of which would examine the set up and preparation stages necessary to implement a Parenting Order
- The second stage of the process evaluation, which would examine the steps from consideration of a Parenting Order through to application and implementation
- A review of the way in which the effectiveness of parenting services used during commission of a Parenting Order were evaluated by local authorities
- A cost assessment of implementing Parenting Orders
1.11 The baseline mapping of existing parenting services was to be achieved through analysis of responses to a mapping exercise required of local authorities by the Scottish Executive; a report on findings from this exercise was submitted to the Scottish Executive in early 2006.
1.12 The second objective of the evaluation was to examine the set up and preparation stages necessary to implement a Parenting Order; to be achieved by re-visiting of the mapping exercise. Each local authority was asked to consider their original mapping submission in light of any changes that had been made to facilitate POs. This objective was ultimately revised in agreement with the Scottish Executive and will be discussed below. The final 3 objectives were dependent upon POs being applied for/implemented. At the time of reporting (November 2007) no POs have been applied for.
1.13 In the absence of Parenting Order applications, a revised approach to the study was necessary. It was agreed that the research team would conduct interviews in each local authority to discuss universal parenting service provision. From these interviews it was intended that an overall picture of service provision related to parenting needs would be obtained, including factors such as agency views on engagement of parents with services and how particular needs were served. Information and opinions around the use and value of Parenting Orders themselves would also be sought, although it was recognised that much of this would have to be on a hypothetical basis.
1.14 In relation to revisiting the mapping exercise, analysis of the original mapping submissions had revealed considerable disparity in the responses given by local authorities. It was clear that different local authorities had interpreted the mapping exercise in different ways, with some detailing only those intensive services that parents subject to or at risk of a Parenting Order might be offered; others detailing very general services that were not documented as providing direct parenting or family support. Given the disparity in responses, and the remit of the exercise to help local authorities plan and develop the parenting support provision, it was proposed that the original mapping strategy be altered to allow each LA the opportunity to revise their mapping submission in order to present the most complete and accurate picture possible of parenting services in their area. This replaced the original proposal to revisit the mapping exercise to track changes in provision over the pilot period, with a new aim of obtaining as complete a picture as possible of parenting service provision across Scotland. In addition, a literature review (MacQueen et al, forthcoming) was conducted to inform the analysis of strategic planning. This included an examination of the PO policy context, effective approaches to family service provision, engagement of parents and families with services and the use of compulsory measures as a means to secure engagement.
1.15 A draft interim report was submitted in February 2007, but it was not possible at that time to present a full picture of parenting services and support across Scotland. The Scottish Executive extended the study to the end of August 2007 in order to incorporate data collection from health and education-based personnel, and to allow a closer examination of any strategies or protocols that might be in place regarding the provision of services across the local authorities. Including health personnel in the study required consideration of the framework within which many of them work: 'Hall 4'.
1.16 The system referred to as 'Hall 4' arose from a multi-disciplinary working group established by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that was convened to look at routine health checks for young children. The first report - "Health for All Children" - was published in England and Wales in 1989. The recommendations of that report, developed over the years, now take the form of 'Hall 4', published in 2003 (Hall and Elliman 2003).
1.17 In Scotland, draft guidance for the implementation of Hall 4 was issued by the Scottish Executive in 2005 for consultation. It was proposed the guidance reflect:
"...the evidence-based practice framework set out in Hall 4, for intervention to assess, monitor and support children's health and development throughout childhood and adolescence, based on staged intervention and underpinned by strong health promotion activities" (Scottish Executive, 2005c)
1.18 The Hall 4 approach takes the following format:
Figure 1.1 Hall 4 approach
Notes to figure
Adapted from Scottish Executive, 2005c
1.19 In addition, the Hall 4 approach requires:
- Genuine joint working between services and agencies
- Effective information exchange and transfer protocols and systems
- Effective cross-referral mechanisms
- Multi-agency staff training and development
- Clear referral protocols and pathways which are familiar and accessible to non-health professionals
1.20 Standardised checks, tasks and targets are laid out in Hall 4, to be met at certain stages in the child's life:
- Within 24 hours of birth
- Within 10 days of birth (several visits, depending on level of need)
- At 6 to 8 weeks
- At 3 months
- At 4 months
- At 13 months
- Between 3 to 5 years
- At the transition to primary school
- In Primary 7
- At the transition to secondary school
1.21 The guidance set out a staged implementation of Hall 4 between 2005 and 2007; Hall 4 ultimately became fully operational in March 2007.
1.22 This evaluation report will first describe the methods by which all information for the study was collected. Findings regarding strategic approaches to service provision will then be presented, followed by a discussion of findings from interviews with social work, education and health practitioners. Finally, data from the mapping exercise will be examined and overall conclusions drawn.