Putting the child at the heart of children's services
Phase I of the consultation on the Children's Hearings system raised fundamental questions, not only about that system, but also about the services and systems around the hearings system. That is why, in this consultation, we are seeking views on how to improve children's services and on our proposals for action to achieve the desired change, including improvements to the Children's Hearings system. This affects all agencies and services who provide care and support for children and their families. This includes local authorities, police, NHS Scotland and voluntary sector organisations.
We want to make sure that the child is at the heart of children's services. Decisions about children must be based on what they need to help.
There is already a range of activity underway to improve the way in which we provide support for children and families and we intend to build on this.
Everyone has a responsibility to do the right thing for each child and we must all work towards a unified approach, with less bureaucracy and more freedom to get on and deliver services for children. This will mean earlier help and the child getting the right service at the right time packaged for their particular needs.
Children and parents should know what to expect of public agencies and what is expected of them. Developing a unified approach to children's services will require changes in culture with different ways of working to deliver effective children's services.
Agencies should tackle problems as early as possible, only referring to the Children's Hearings system where clearly necessary.
All this has implications for the way services are structured and planned, with a stronger focus on outcomes for children, and on what works. This will make a real difference for children.
We will achieve our aim by developing from the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and placing new statutory duties on agencies. Processes will be streamlined. We expect earlier and more coordinated action by agencies and fewer referrals to a strengthened and modernised Children's Hearings system. We will empower and value both front line services and panel members.
This is a challenging agenda and everyone involved in children's services has to share in the responsibility for taking action to deliver it. It will not happen overnight but we will start the process now.
Minister for Education and Young People
Euan Robson MSP
Deputy Minister for Education and Young People
Vision for children
Our ambition for the children of Scotland is that they should be ambitious for themselves and be:
To achieve our vision, children need to be:
- Safe: Children and young people should be protected from abuse, neglect and harm by others at home, at school and in the community.
- Nurtured: Children and young people should live within a supportive family setting, with additional assistance if required, or, where this is not possible, within another caring setting, ensuring a positive and rewarding childhood experience.
- Healthy: Children and young people should enjoy the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health, with access to suitable healthcare and support for safe and healthy lifestyle choices.
- Achieving: Children and young people should have access to positive learning environments and opportunities to develop their skills, confidence and self esteem to the fullest potential.
- Active: Children and young people should be active with opportunities and encouragement to participate in play and recreation, including sport.
- Respected and responsible: Children, young people and their carers should be involved in decisions that affect them, should have their voices heard and should be encouraged to play an active and responsible role in their communities.
- Included: Children, young people and their carers should have access to high quality services, when required, and should be assisted to overcome the social, educational, physical, environmental and economic barriers that create inequality.