Analysis Of Responses To The Consultation On Draft Statutory Guidance For Parts 4, 5 & 18 (Section 96) Of The Children And Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

This is a report on Analysis of Responses to the Consultation on Draft Statutory Guidance for Parts 4, 5 & 18 (Section 96) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

14 Draft child's Plan Order

14.1 The last four questions in the consultation questionnaire (Questions 35-38) asked for comments about different aspects of the draft Child's Plan Order. Respondents' views in relation to these questions are set out below.

Q35: References in the guidance to existing regulations (Q35)

14.2 Question 35 asked: 'Whenever possible we have referenced existing regulations to show the interaction with the new duties. Do you find this helpful?' Table 14.1 below shows that 88% of organisational respondents and 35% of individual respondents answered 'yes' to this question, and 12% of organisational respondents and 65% of individual respondents answered 'no'.

Table 14.1: Question 35

Yes No Total
Respondent type n % n % n %
Local authorities 14 (93%) 1 (7%) 15 (100%)
Health organisations 13 (100%) 0 (0%) 13 (100%)
Partnership bodies and joint responses 10 (67%) 5 (33%) 15 (100%)
Other national public sector bodies 5 (100%) 0 (0%) 5 (100%)
Third sector organisations 14 (93%) 1 (7%) 15 (100%)
Professional groups 9 (90%) 1 (10%) 10 (100%)
Other organisational respondents 4 (80%) 1 (20%) 5 (100%)
Total organisations 69 (88%) 9 (12%) 78 (100%)
Individual respondents 6 (35%) 11 (65%) 17 (100%)

Percentages do not all total 100% due to rounding.

14.3 Partnership bodies were less likely than other organisational respondents to answer 'yes'.

14.4 Altogether 44 respondents (38 organisations and 6 individuals) submitted commented in response to Question 35. Only five out of the nine organisations who answered 'no' at this question went on to explain their reasons for answering in this way. The remaining comments were from respondents who had answered 'yes'.

14.5 In general, respondents thought references to existing regulations in the guidance were useful and important. However, some felt that further clarification was needed. Moreover, there was a view that, although the draft Child's Plan Order had provided references to existing regulations very well, these links were 'almost completely absent' from the draft guidance.

14.6 The importance of understanding the links with other regulations was emphasised since 'practitioners will be used to working within existing frameworks', and they will need to be able to build on this experience as they become familiar with the duties of the new Act.

14.7 While some made more general requests for further clarification about how the relevant legislation relates to the Child's Plan process, others specifically wanted clarification about the interaction between the Child's Plan and:

  • Co-ordinated Support Plans
  • Regulations for looked-after children
  • Child protection and Children's Hearing procedures.

14.8 The point was made that Part 2 of the guidance seems to suggest that a responsible authority may need to 'make a decision' about whether a looked-after child requires a Child's Plan. However, there was a view that no such decision would need to be made, since 'any looked-after child must, by virtue of being looked after, have various wellbeing needs which cannot be met by universal services.' Thus, it was suggested that Part 2 of the guidance should be amended to clearly state that all looked-after children must have a Child's Plan.

14.9 There was a concern that the legislation that applied to the wellbeing of children was very complex, and there was a question about the capacity of (and time available to) Name Persons to interpret this legislation appropriately.

14.10 Some respondents made practical suggestions about how to improve the links to other legislation and regulations from within the draft guidance: for example, by putting in hyperlinks, or by adding footnotes to the document.

Views of individual respondents

14.11 In general, individual respondents did not directly address the question, and the largely reiterated their general opposition to the legislation and concerns about the guidance.

14.12 A small number of individual respondents did engage with the question, and these said they found the links to other regulations from the draft Child's Plan Order helpful.

Q36: Other people who should be consulted in the preparation of a Child's Plan

14.13 Question 36 made the point that in terms of the 2014 Act, the Named Person and, as far as reasonably practicable, the child and their parents, are to be consulted on the preparation of a Child's Plan. The draft Order also set out who else should be consulted in certain circumstances. Under the Act, the responsible authority can also consult with anyone it considers appropriate in any particular case. Question 36 asked: 'Do you think any other people should be consulted, as far as reasonably practicable, for the preparation of every plan?'

14.14 Table 14.2 below shows that 66% of organisational respondents and 24% of individual respondents answered 'yes', and 34% of organisational respondents and 76% of individual respondents answered 'no'.

Table 14.2: Question 36

Yes No Total
Respondent type n % n % n %
Local authorities 6 (40%) 9 (60%) 15 (100%)
Health organisations 12 (86%) 2 (14%) 14 (100%)
Partnership bodies and joint responses 8 (57%) 6 (43%) 14 (100%)
Other national public sector bodies 2 (50%) 2 (50%) 4 (100%)
Third sector organisations 13 (81%) 3 (19%) 16 (100%)
Professional groups 6 (75%) 2 (25%) 8 (100%)
Other organisational respondents 4 (67%) 2 (33%) 6 (100%)
Total organisations* 51 (66%) 26 (34%) 77 (100%)
Individual respondents 4 (24%) 13 (76%) 17 (100%)

* One respondent ticked both 'yes' and 'no'. This response is not included in the table.

Percentages do not all total 100% due to rounding.

14.15 Most organisational respondents answered 'yes' to this question. However, local authorities were more likely to answer 'no', and other national public sector bodies were divided in their views.

14.16 Altogether, 55 respondents (45 organisations and 10 individuals) made comments at Question 36.

14.17 The general view among organisational respondents was that decisions about who to consult in preparing a Child's Plan should depend on the individual circumstances of each child. The point was made that it could take a lot of time for the Named Person to consult with a wide range of people; therefore, only the key people in the child's life should be consulted, and these decisions should be taken flexibly, on a case-by-case basis.

14.18 However, some respondents made suggestions about others who could be contacted as a matter of course:

  • GP
  • Foster carers / residential staff
  • Social work (for looked-after children) and the education service (for those with a CSP)
  • Third sector organisations which provide care to either the child or the parent(s).

14.19 People who might be consulted, depending on the circumstances, could include:

  • The child's wider network of support
  • Siblings
  • Victims of any crime perpetrated by the child (in the interests of restorative justice)
  • The previous Named Person for the child (particularly if information received upon transition is limited)
  • UK-based guardians (for international students).

14.20 Respondents also raised a number of points in relation to the question of who to consult in the preparation of a Child's Plan:

  • Decisions about who else to consult should be taken after discussion with the child and parents
  • Not consulting with the child and their parents in the preparation of the Plan should be only in exceptional circumstances - respondents questioned the use of the phrase: 'as far as reasonably practical'.
  • There is a risk that the Child's Plan and Named Person provisions could create a situation whereby young people are exposed to increasing numbers of professionals who have access to information about their lives and experiences.

Views of individual respondents

14.21 In general, individual respondents thought that decisions about who else to consult regarding the preparation of a Child's Plan should be taken following discussion with the child's parents. Individual respondents thought that information about the child should not be shared with other individuals / organisations without consent (unless there is a significant risk of harm to the child), and they wanted the guidance to include safeguards to protect the privacy of families.

14.22 However, some individual respondents suggested other people who could be consulted, including: a child's 'case review officer', and other family members involved in the child's care.

Q37: Copies of the Child's Plan

14.23 Question 37 made the point that copies of the Child's Plan should be provided to persons specified in the draft Child's Plan Order, except in certain circumstances, which are set out in Article 7 (Part 3) of the draft Order. The question asked: 'Does this article meet the intention to ensure that others are not placed at risk of harm as a consequence of copies of the plan being provided? If no, please provide details including what you think should be changed.'

14.24 Table 14.3 below shows that 91% of organisations and 19% of individuals said 'yes' in response to this question, and 9% of organisations and 81% of individuals said 'no'.

Table 14.3: Question 37

Yes No Total
Respondent type n % n % n %
Local authorities 14 (100%) 0 (0%) 14 (100%)
Health organisations 12 (100%) 0 (0%) 12 (100%)
Partnership bodies and joint responses 11 (85%) 2 (15%) 13 (100%)
Other national public sector bodies 4 (80%) 1 (20%) 5 (100%)
Third sector organisations 12 (92%) 1 (8%) 13 (100%)
Professional groups 6 (100%) 0 (0%) 6 (100%)
Other organisational respondents 4 (67%) 2 (33%) 6 (100%)
Total organisations 63 (91%) 6 (9%) 69 (100%)
Individual respondents 3 (19%) 13 (81%) 16 (100%)

Percentages do not all total 100% due to rounding.

14.25 Altogether, 34 respondents (27 organisations and 7 individuals) made comments in response to this question.

14.26 Points raised by respondents included the following. Most of these points were raised by fewer than five respondents.

  • Services involved in the delivery of the Plan should receive a copy of it - or at least relevant sections of it.
  • The most complex cases are likely to present the greatest difficulties in deciding what information can be shared without consent, and with whom.
  • Copies of the Child's Plan should only be provided to others on a 'need to know basis'.
  • There should be robust governance processes in place to ensure that information is not shared inappropriately. There was a suggestion that current child protection / Children's Hearing processes could be used as a model.
  • If a decision is taken to restrict distribution of the Plan, this decision should be regularly reviewed.
  • There may be international regulations which need to be considered, for example, in the case of a child who may be at risk of being abducted and taken abroad by a non-resident parent.
  • Inclusion of the child's address in the Child's Plan may put the child at risk in cases where there has been domestic abuse and the parents are separated. Although the Order would allow the abusive parent not to receive a copy of the Plan, it may be the case that the child would share his/her own copy with that parent. It was suggested that, in cases where domestic abuse is an issue, any information which could identify the family residence should be omitted from shared copies of the Plan.

14.27 There was also concerns about the requirement to provide a copy of the Child's Plan to the child's parents in the case of over-16s who may no longer be living with (or in contact with) their parents.

Views of individual respondents

14.28 Individual respondents often simply reiterated their objections to the provisions of the Act and their beliefs that the legislation should be 'scrapped'. However, some additional points were that:

  • The guidance should set out in exactly what circumstances a parent or child can legitimately be excluded from discussions about a child's wellbeing.
  • There is a conflict of interest in that the authority that makes the decision to exclude the parent(s) from the circulation list for the Plan may be the same authority who is the employer of the Named Person.

Q38: Other general comments about the draft Child's Plan Order

14.29 Question 38 was an open question which invited any other general comments about the draft Child's Plan Order. Comments from individual respondents largely covered the same issues discussed in Chapter 3 of this report, and so they are not repeated here.

14.30 Comments from organisations generally repeated or reiterated earlier comments made in relation to different aspects of the guidance. Again, these are not repeated here. Additional points made by organisational respondents at Question 38 included the following:

  • Chronologies should be given greater prominence in the guidance - it was suggested that the guidance should be cross-referenced to 'GIRFEC Practice Guidance 8: Chronologies', which should be updated if necessary. The point was made that chronologies have been identified as very important in many Significant Case Reviews, in HMIe reports on child protection and by the Care Inspectorate.
  • The guidance should more clearly articulate that the protection of children is fundamental to the overall GIRFEC approach to wellbeing. It was thought there was insufficient emphasis on vulnerability, risk and child protection, and it was suggested that existing multi-agency arrangements for identifying, assessing, responding to and managing risk should be acknowledged more fully in the guidance. There was a concern that the guidance could lead practitioners to mistakenly believe that the new duties replace existing practices which are working well to protect children.
  • The guidance should be clearer about timescales for different aspects of the process.
  • It was suggested that it was unnecessary to state the layout of the Child's Plan in secondary legislation. The length and complexity of the information required could potentially result in delays in a targeted intervention getting started. Instead, it was suggested that a standard proforma of a Child's Plan could be provided for all responsible authorities to use. This option would allow the targeted intervention to happen more quickly, rather than professionals waiting until all compulsory sections of the Child's Plan are completed before beginning the intervention.
  • It was thought that a 'legal understanding' would be required to interpret / understand the draft Child's Order. There was concern about the cross-referencing from the guidance to the draft Order, which was thought to be confusing and open to misinterpretation, and thus potentially able to be challenged in court.


Email: Richard Kaura

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