Bairns' Hoose: project plan

This project plan sets out the steps we will take to meet our Programme for Government Commitment which aims to ensure that all eligible children in Scotland will have access to a ‘Bairns’ Hoose’ by 2025.

The Plan

Early actions

The following actions set out the immediate next steps to realise the above ambition over the next 3 - 6 months.

  • Establish Strategic Governance
  • Develop and publish a participation and engagement plan for lived experience children and young people
  • With justice partners identify challenges and develop a route map through the justice system to enable the delivery of the aims of the Bairn's Hoose
  • Engage with key stakeholders to identify the potential number of Bairns' Hoose' required to ensure access for all children in line with our Programme for Government commitment
  • Map out the related operational and policy connections with existing Scottish Government working groups and forums

Collaborative approach

The Barnahus Model provides Scotland with an opportunity to provide a child-centred approach to delivering justice, care and recovery for children who have experienced trauma. A co-ordinated and collaborative approach across justice, health and children's services, and third sector partners will be essential to achieving this.

Strong and effective leadership will be critical from all partners, maximising collaboration and establishing trust, as we jointly respond to the complexities of system change in children's services. We will continue to work collaboratively with key stakeholders to overcome barriers and problem solve critical questions.

We are committed to a partnership approach in the design, delivery, implementation and improvement of the Bairns' Hoose Model recognising that much of the dialogue around design and delivery will be between partners at a local level and through local structures.

The successful collaborative working and national roll out of the Scottish Child Interview Model for the Joint Investigative Interview (JII) programme will be a cornerstone of Bairns' Hoose. We can benefit from the learning as it continues to be implemented, in particular around provision in rural and remote and island settings.

We are committed to ensuring that children and families' experiences will be at the centre of our work and will influence the design and development of a national model in a way that is trauma informed, meaningful and connected. One of the early considerations of the national Governance Group will be to determine the best and most accessible structure to hear and learn from the views and experiences of children and young people and their families. This will be an early action for the Group and will be reflected in our Children and Young People's Participation and Engagement Plan.


The following actions set out the next steps over the next 6 - 12 months.

  • implement participation and engagement plan for lived-experience children and young people
  • develop a child-friendly version of the participation and engagement plan
  • develop and publish a Partner engagement plan.

Physical infrastructure

Bairns' Hoose will bring together services in a 'four rooms' approach with child protection, health, justice and recovery services all made available in one setting. A key element of Barnahus is the child friendly setting and the whole team around the child.

The location, type of premises and layout are all important factors in ensuring children can access the services in a safe, welcoming and homely environment. Potential Bairns' Hooses may be developed from an existing service or set up in a purpose-built or refurbished property. The key factor across all potential sites is the ability to provide a safe, neutral and age appropriate environment that reflects the needs of all children, and their families, who use the service.

Our approach will be to develop test sites (and to encourage the participation of those multi-agency sites currently active and/or planning to be operating) and capture learning from a pilot programme on a targeted basis before scaling up nationally, informed by emerging practice developments, in line with other European models.


The following actions set out the next steps over the next 6 - 12 months.

  • establish relevant workstreams within governance structure to take actions forward
  • engage with COSLA and other statutory partners to explore existing estate for potential test site development and local plans for Bairns' Hoose style initiatives and to map out potential Bairns' Hooses across local partnership areas
  • assess existing and proposed JII/SCIM sites for commonality of Bairns' Hoose components and principles
  • develop and carry out surveys to include assessment and analysis of:
    • site location and overview
    • services and access
    • workforce
    • multi-Agency working/governance
    • resourcing
    • data and evaluation
  • carry out scoping site visits of relevant existing multi-agency initiatives both within Scotland and outside
  • scope out and invite areas to become test sites
  • develop indicators for test site modelling and evaluation model
  • develop and publish plans for test sites including costings
  • develop test sites for pilot delivery
  • establish a good practice learning forum for test sites.

Service development

The Barnahus model provides Scotland with an opportunity to provide a genuinely child-centred approach to delivering justice, care and recovery for children who have experienced trauma, including but not only, child sexual abuse. That means the services they need will all be available via a coordinated approach designed to reduce the number of times children have to recount their experiences to different professionals.

The Scottish approach to Barnahus will be based on the European Barnahus Quality Standards. Ministers have agreed that overarching principles are essential, with flexibility for local delivery partners to adapt the model for their local context, underpinned by national standards which will provide a framework for a Barnahus model in Scotland. This will ensure a consistency in the child's experience, with flexibility for local delivery partners to adapt the model to suit local circumstances in recognising that it may not always be feasible to co-locate all relevant services. Close collaboration across agencies and between local partnerships is a pre-requisite for development, implementation and evaluation of the approach.

Barnahus proposals will continue to observe the Lord Advocate's independent role as head of the system of investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. The model will be compatible with the independent responsibilities of police, prosecutors and the judiciary.

The work undertaken to enhance our approach to Joint Investigative Interviews, and in particular the roll out of the Scottish Child Interview Model, will continue to ensure that interviews are conducted with the best interest of the child as a primary consideration. This includes scope for this interview to be used as the whole or part of the evidence in chief of a child, if an application for the relevant special measure is made by the prosecution and granted by the Court.

In some cases, it may be necessary to ask the child some further questions to supplement their evidence in chief. In most cases the child will still require to be asked further questions for the purposes of cross-examination. On the application of the prosecutor these elements of the child's evidence can be pre-recorded by means of "taking of evidence by a commissioner". Evidence "taken by a Commissioner" is evidence that has been pre-recorded in advance, to avoid the need for a witness to appear in Court. For High Court trials, these sessions are presided over by a High Court Judge (the Commissioner), and the witness can be questioned by both the prosecution and the defence. In many instances this will reduce the need to give evidence in Court.

The principles underpinning the Scottish Child Interview Model for Joint Investigative Interviews will be a fundamental aspect of our Bairns' Hoose model. It may also be possible to utilise Bairns' Hooses as a location in which evidence by commissioner in advance of trial could take place, but this may be a longer term ambition.

The following areas are the proposed themes that the standards will cover:

1. Key principles and the rights of the child

2. Collaborative leadership and governance

3. Inclusive access

4. Design and environment

5. Coordinated planning process

6. Investigative interview

7. Involvement in the court and legal processes

8. Health assessment and medical examination

9. Wrap-around care and access to therapeutic support and recovery services

10. Multidisciplinary staff training and support

11. Outreach, sharing knowledge and learning from good practice.


The following actions set out the next steps over the next 6 - 12 months.

  • develop and consult on Barnahus Standards
  • publish Barnahus Standards
  • embed JII/SCIM model within Barnahus policy
  • consult on approach to Barnahus – including what aspects, if any, should be mandated by Scottish Government

12 – 18 months:

  • build on learning from the test site survey analysis to develop and agree service delivery model(s)
  • develop cost modelling and funding structures
  • develop evaluation methodology
  • develop and publish delivery plan for pilot programme
  • develop information sharing protocol/ agreements
  • identify any legislative requirements and/or alternative mechanisms for delivery (potentially standalone primary legislation or part of other Bill commitments)

18 months – 3 years

  • deliver pilot
  • prepare for developing primary legislation (if required)
  • develop and publish guidance
  • develop quality assurance plan
  • agree the approach to national implementation.

This plan will be subject to ongoing review to reflect emerging learning from test sites, pilot development and international Barnahus developments, wider conversations about how the Bairns' Hoose should work in Scotland, and discussions relating to the scope of the standards.



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