Children and Families National Leadership Group Minutes - 27 February 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Government group on 27 February 2023

Attendees and apologies


  • Louise Long(co-chair), SOLACE

  • Jillian Gibson, CoSLA

  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Chris Lumb, Care Inspectorate

  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland

  • Martin Crewe, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

  • Carol Wassell, Children’s Hearings Scotland

  • Neil Hunter, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

  • Carol Peebles, Police Scotland

  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland

  • Sarah Gadsden, Improvement Service

  • Fraser McKinlay, The Promise

  • Jim Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group
  • Michael Chalmers (Co-Chair), Scottish Government
  • Joanna MacDonald, Scottish Government
  • Gavin Henderson, Scottish Government
  • Jane Moffat, Scottish Government
  • Bryony Revell, Scottish Government
  • Gita Sharkey, Scottish Government
  • Lyndsey Saki, Scottish Government
  • Lesleyann Russell, Scottish Government
  • Chrissie Hirst, Corra Foundation for Agenda Item 2: UNCRC Implementation
  • Tom Baughan, Corra Foundation for Agenda Item 2: UNCRC Implementation
  • Peter Donachie, Secretariat
  • Aileen Black, Secretarait

Items and actions


Louise Long welcomed attendees to the meeting. Michael Chalmers noted that Debby Wason is retiring from Public Health Scotland and thanked Debby for all the expertise and support she had provided to the Covid-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group and the Children and Families National Leadership Group. Lynda Fenton will become Public Health Scotland’s representative on the C&FNLG.

There were no amendments to the note of the last meeting. The update on the actions from the meeting is as follows:

Secretariat to circulate revised terms of reference including the addition of tackling child poverty as a priority for the group - revised terms of reference circulated with papers for the meeting.

Secretariat to develop sharepoint or other means for members to use for discussion and action between meetings. Technical and staffing issues have delayed the implementation of a sharepoint for the group. The aim is to have this in place for the beginning of April. 

UNCRC implementation (papers 2/1 and 2/2)

Gita SharkeyScottish Government provided an update on the vision for children and young people based on the national outcomes within the national performance framework and progress on UNCRC incorporation. There are two national outcomes of particular relevance:

  • we grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential
  • we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination

However the articles in the UNCRC align with a much broader range of national outcomes including “‘we tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally.’

Gita emphasised the fundamental links between UNCRC, the promise, tackling child poverty, closing the attainment gap and GIRFEC. There would be benefits in developing a joint narrative across these priorities to ensure they are seen as interconnected initiatives with the common goal of promoting children and young people’s rights and wellbeing. The group agreed that developing the joint narrative should be included in the group’s work programme.

In relation to progress on the UNCRC incorporation bill, following the UK supreme court judgement that four sections of the bill were outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, discussions are taking place to address the issues raised in the judgement and enable the commencement of the provisions in the bill. The substantive provisions in the bill would automatically come into force at the end of a period of 6 months beginning from the day of royal assent. There may be pressure from some in the children’s rights sector to commencement the provisions early however this would be challenging for Scottish Government not least because of the need to consult on statutory guidance in relation to parts 2 and 3 of the bill – the compatibility duty and reporting duties on public authorities. 

Lyndsey Saki, Scottish Government discussed the four main strands of the UNCRC implementation programme – children’s rights resolution; leadership for children’s rights; empowered children who can claim their rights; and embedding children’s rights in public services. Among the work taking place is:

  • development of a children’s rights skills and knowledge framework, with accompanying training plan 
  • publication of a suite of introductory guidance (non-statutory and statutory) to help public authorities apply a child’s rights-based approach, and implement new duties
  • supporting the improvement service who provide additional advice and guidance for local authorities in fulfilling their duties and in taking a child's rights-based approach, e.g., through hosting of the UNCRC implementation: local government network
  • a pilot children and young people’s consortium to help ensure the experiences, ideas and feedback of children, young people and their families inform decision-making

Chrissie Hirst, Corra Foundation presented the draft criteria for the UNCRC innovation fund. The fund will be administered by the corra foundation and launched in the spring. It will support public bodies and local authorities to develop a child’s rights-based approach and embed children’s rights into culture, policy and practice. The value of the fund is £500,000 and it is anticipated that between 10 and 15 grants will be made. Public bodies and local authorities can apply individually or in partnership, and as part of a coalition which can include other applicants including the third sector. Successful applicants will be encouraged to engage with their children’s services planning partnerships in taking work forward.

Priority will be given to applications which target support for infants, children and young people who face an increased risk of not having their rights fulfilled. This approach will be based on the definitions of vulnerability developed by the Covid-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group and protected characteristics as, for example, referenced in the state of children's rights in Scotland report

Applications can propose projects which are implemented within the time window of 1 September 2023 to 31 December 2024. Successful applicants will be required to report on their use of the grants through online meetings and formal reports.

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • the programme priorities paper should include the work taking place to promote children and young people’s participation
  • there are good opportunities to progress and embed UNCRC through the development of children’s services plans for 2023-26 including in health and related services such as alcohol and drug services and housing
  • consideration should be given to how areas such as transport are working with children and young people. This could be developed as practical examples of UNCRC in action such as Strathclyde partnership for transport’s work with young Scot
  • the disabled children and young people’s advisory group offered its advice and assistance including in relation to issues such as transport and play park facilities
  • the improvement service has surveyed local authorities on issues where further partnership working would be most useful and this can assist work on UNCRC. The improvement service welcomed the suggestion of a joint narrative as helping to address issues raised in the survey
  • C&FNLG should discuss at a future meeting the potential for better linking up funding streams to improve outcomes for children and young people

The group agreed with the need for further engagement work with public bodies to continue to raise awareness of UNCRC implementation issues and prepare for commencement.      

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (paper 2/3)

Joanna MacDonald provided an update on work taking place at UK and Scottish levels to support unaccompanied asylum seeking children. A Scottish Government/COSLA co-chaired governance group has been established to help address accommodation needs and other pressures. Updates from the group will be provided to C&FNLG as their work progresses.

Aberlour child care trust (as a CCPS member) had submitted written comments expressing concern over a lack of planning for the national transfer scheme; lack of suitable accommodation facilities and consequent adverse impacts on health and wellbeing; the need for more co-ordinated inter-agency support work including for the guardianship service; the potential role of the home office as a corporate parent; and recruitment and resource pressures on social work services staff.

Further comments from members were as follows:

  • need to consider the full range of pressure points and support provision for UASC including continuing care requirements and educational pathways and the availability of funding at Scottish and UK levels
  • essential to consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of reception centres

Workforce pressures and recruitment and retention issues for children’s services should be discussed at a future C&FNLG meeting. There is a clear need to undertake some longer term planning and put in place a financial framework that anticipates future workforce challenges and changes. 

Proposals for future agenda items (paper 2/4)

Peter Donachie summarised the proposals for future agenda items in paper 2/4  and invited further suggestions from members.

As discussed earlier in the meeting, suggestions for further items were:

  • consideration of the potential for better linking up funding streams to improve outcomes for children and young people
  • workforce pressures and recruitment and retention issues for children’s services

Any other business and close

There was no further business. The next meeting will be on 22 March and cover:

  • review of progress on the recommendations of the short life working group on under-18s in custody.
  • whole family wellbeing funding; spending proposals for 2023/24 
Back to top