Children and Families National Leadership Group minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group held on 12 January 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Louise Long (co-chair), SOLANCE 
  • Laura Caven, SOLANCE 
  • Jillian Gibson, SOLANCE 
  • Pam Dudek, NHS Chief Executives
  • Lynne McNiven, Directors of Public Health
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Carole Anderson , Child Health Commissioners
  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate
  • Alison Gordon , Social Work Scotland
  • Mary Glasgow, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Sheena Devlin, ADES
  • Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland
  • Mary Glasgow, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Sarah Gadsden, Improvement Service
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Fraser McKinlay , The Promise
  • Carrie Lindsay, Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads Network Co-Chair
  • Alan Small, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • 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
  • Laura Holton, Scottish Government
  • Peter Donachie, Secretariat 
  • Emily Aitchison, Secretariat

Items and actions


Michael Chalmers welcomed attendees to the meeting. Louise Long will co-chair the group on behalf of SOLACE. The National Leadership Group (CFNLG)’s purpose is to provide collective leadership and strategic oversight of key areas of transformational change to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. As previously discussed, the new group will have a smaller membership than the previous Collective Leadership Group with the core membership being based on representation from specific sectors. The group will have fewer priorities than the wide range of issues which CLG covered with the focus on action and decision making rather than information updates.

Terms of reference: discussion of initial priorities with members

Michael Chalmers invited members’ views on initial priorities for the group. Previous discussions had suggested that these would be:

  • keeping the promise including whole family wellbeing funding
  • UNCRC Implementation
  • embedding of GIRFEC/GIRFE

NLG will have a key role in identifying opportunities for better alignment between programmes of work; encouraging greater collaboration and co-production between different sectors; and making more effective use of resources. This will be particularly important in view of the increasing pressures upon families and the workforce.

Members made the following comments:

  • tackling child poverty should be included as a priority. Whilst there are existing groups taking forward this work; there are important cross-cutting issues that the CFNLG can help to address
  • the group should consider how best to promote better information sharing and governance approaches across its priorities. This will help to reduce unnecessary overlaps and duplication including in reporting arrangements
  • there are good opportunities to identify key milestones within the priorities and use these for agenda planning to assist the group in more pro-actively shaping its future work programme. This will help to avoid the group becoming overly involved in resolving short term issues as they arise
  • there needs to be a more strategic, dynamic approach to risk management and a greater whole system approach to addressing implementation gaps and supporting the workforce. This will support the CFNLG’s role in providing greater oversight and advice to the groups taking forward individual programmes of work
  • the children’s hearings system working group/mackie group will be reporting on the redesign of the children’s hearings system in spring this year. There will be issues relating to the CFNLG’s priorities including keeping the promise and UNCRC Implementation. 

The Secretariat will incorporate these changes in a revised version of the Terms of Reference.

Laura Holton discussed progress on whole family wellbeing funding (WFWF). A range of engagement activity is taking place with children’s services planning partnerships (CSPPs). This includes the establishment of a learning into action network to support CSPPs in sharing learning and approaches, peer support and have solution focused discussions around the barriers and opportunities around whole system change in holistic family support.

Following an application process, three CSPPs (East Ayrshire, East Lothian and Glasgow City) have been selected to enter into a collaborative partnership with a national support team to accelerate local and national transformation in the delivery of holistic whole family support.

An independent social and market research agency, IFF, will undertake the evaluation of WFWF for year 1. A research advisory group (RAG) is supporting this work. The first stage of the research was gathering initial planning templates completed by CSPPs. An initial findings report based on these plans will be made available to CSPPs later this month. An interim report will then follow in spring 2023, which will be based on findings from the CSPPs' initial plans and six case studies.    

Following advice from the previous collective leadership group; Scottish Government policy areas and other partners, the applications for Element 3 funding have been assessed and are being considered by Ministers with an announcement to be made soon. 

The programme governance arrangements are being reviewed and the CFNLG will have a key role including in helping to manage risk and ensure effective delivery.

Early issues and challenges for the programme include:

  • recruitment and resource: Bureaucracy and availability slowing implementation
  • budget: clarity around WFWF recurring budgets; uncertainty around wider core budgets; alignment and reporting across funding
  • support, challenge and accountability: How to support CSPPs which are at earlier developmental stage; communications and engagement; understanding progress
  • cross-agency approach: third sector engagement in planning and delivery; connections with child poverty activity
  • evaluation: proportionality and supporting learning and delivery

 The main priorities for 2023/24 are:

  • maintaining current activity
  • initiating new activity to address emerging learning
  • addressing emerging issues through design of activity

Members raised the following issues in response:

  • there remains a lack of clarity over the rationale and use of Element 3 funding. Some CSPPs need further information on how Element 3 funding is being used in their areas including by Third Sector Partners. The role of the Third Sector in WFWF more generally would benefit from further discussion
  • there were queries over whether there will be new application rounds for Element 3 funding. Laura Holton replied that there are no plans to do so as the current applications are for multi-year funding.
  • there is also some uncertainty on funding allocations for 2023/24. Laura confirmed that £50m will be provided with £32m of Element 1 funding for CSPPs
  • some local areas are experiencing challenges in connecting up WFWF with other separate funding streams for children, young people and family support (including support for mental health) to have the greatest positive impact. There is also a need to streamline the different, multiple reporting requirements and governance arrangements. The Promise’s work with local areas on developing human and economic cost modelling (HECM) will help in identifying means of addressing this issue. However, this is a complex and difficult issue with greater action needed to improve flexibility and pooling of budgets. This will be an area of activity for future discussion by the group
  • further work is needed on how WFWF can best promote whole system change including learning from good practice elsewhere in the UK and internationally through the provision of masterclasses for CSPPs
  • there were queries over the extent to which Community Planning Partnerships are involved in WFWF. There are possible opportunities to make better links with the national community planning improvement board

Expectations from members on ways of working

Members agreed that:

  • the group needs to be purposeful with the focus on decision making and action rather than information updates
  • meetings should be monthly and generally last an hour unless there are specific business requirements for longer meetings
  • a sharepoint or other means should be developed for discussion and action between meetings. This will assist members in engaging with their sectors
  • the group will need to consider how best to measure the success of its work. Possible options include the group ensuring that high risk areas in the commitments in the promise plan 21-24 are addressed

The group should also consider how the voices of children and young people can best be included in its work. Individual workstreams will have their own arrangements for ensuring the participation of children and young people but, as work progresses, the group could usefully discuss whether additional action is needed.

Any other business 

There was no further business. The Secretariat will contact members with dates for future meetings.

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