The Children & Young People Bill – Children in Scotland’s view
As the national agency representing over 400 organisations working with children, young people and their families across Scotland, Children in Scotland is in the challenging but fortunate position of being able to gather a range of views and ideas on the Bill from local authorities to large and small providers of children’s services and those of committed individuals.
The reaction to the Children and Young People Bill has been impressive. There is a near unanimous welcome for the ambition of the Bill but the key question is how we make sure it will make a difference?
I’ve been delighted by how enthusiastically our members have shared their views and concerns about the proposals with us and it’s clear that they want to make sure the Scottish Government will work with them on the practical actions to implement the aims of the Bill and move from rhetoric to reality. I hope the Government takes on board this offer to work constructively with them to achieve the change which is described eloquently in the consultation papers.
A major element of our engagement work has involved convening thematic working groups, focusing on each of the main areas of the Bill: Children’s Rights; Early Years and Childcare; Care and Looked After Children and Integrated Services and Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC).
We are in agreement that the First Minister’s commitment to increasing subsidised childcare to 600 hours for Scotland’s 3 and 4 year olds and, importantly, every looked after 2 year old, is welcome. Our members also welcome the Scottish Government’s encouragement to deliver this childcare provision flexibly, given that what works for some parts of Scotland may not work in other areas of the country.
While our members recognize that there are concerns about adequate resourcing, they feel that locating the duty with local authorities to make sure this happens, gives the best chance of every organisation taking responsibility to work with families to deliver childcare that works best for them and their children.
Children in Scotland believes that with this Bill, we will have a framework to take forward the radical changes we need across our children’s services. The proposals for integrated services are a good example. Despite good practice across Scotland, we have not seen enough joint working between health, education, social work, the police and voluntary sector, and our members say that placing a stronger duty on agencies to co-operate will help underline that integration is the way we deliver effective children’s services in Scotland.
Our discussions have also focused on the merits of implementing the collaborative ethos that underpins GIRFEC, particularly in the area of ensuring that all children and young people from birth up to leaving school have access to a Named Person who will co-ordinate services for the young person and make sure their wellbeing is at the forefront of every decision. This could be a transformative structure if implemented robustly, with support and good training for all professionals involved. However, there are significant concerns among our members on this issue which will require more detailed engagement with the Scottish Government if we are to get it right.
Our members have told us that they agree with the value of and need for integrated services; that is a joined up, upskilled and properly supported workforce, effective, ethical information sharing and a single planning approach resulting in a Single Child’s Plan (SCP). There is a strong call from many for a new statutory duty in the Bill to create an exclusive, nationally consistent, enforceable SCP for every child about whom there is cause for concern.
There are many other provisions under consideration. These will be discussed at our focused seminar on the Bill, Delivering the Best for All Scotland’s Children, on 18 September in Edinburgh, featuring input from a range of organisations, local authorities and the Scottish Government. This discussion will help inform our final response to the consultation.
We will also continue to work and advise on the Bill until it becomes law, to ensure that it best meets the needs of all children, young people and their families. We welcome your views at email@example.com
Jackie Brock is Chief Executive of Children in Scotland.
Have your say in the formal consultation before September 25th, 2012:
Scottish Government Consultation: Children and Young People Bill.
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