Children, young people and families outcomes framework - core wellbeing indicators: analysis

A national report presenting data from the set of 21 core wellbeing indicators which are part of Scotland’s Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework.

1. Introduction

This report presents headline data, socio-demographic differences and time series data, where available, based on the agreed set of Core Wellbeing Indicators which form part of Scotland’s Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework. These indicators provide a high-level and holistic overview of the current levels of wellbeing for Scotland’s children, young people and families. This report establishes an initial baseline, against which progress can be measured in future years.

1.1 The Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework

The Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework (CYPF OF) has been developed to provide an overarching understanding of children and young people’s wellbeing in Scotland. This complements the National Performance Framework, with its holistic approach grounded in Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). The framework has children’s rights at its core and is consistent with international definitions of child wellbeing.

It has been developed following a recommendation from the Scottish Government’s review of Children's Services Plans (2017-2020) and in response to stakeholder feedback. This identified the need to ‘embed a more joined-up strategic narrative on improving outcomes for children and young people across government, with improved use of data to support this’. The CYPF Outcomes Framework aims to support greater policy cohesion in decision-making, as well as in the strategic planning and delivery of services, support, and improvement activity at both national and local level.

The CYPF Outcomes Framework consists of the following elements:

  • 8 overarching Wellbeing Outcomes consistent with the definition of wellbeing in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 - Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included (SHANARRI). Wellbeing Outcomes are set out in Annex A.
  • Shared Aims which reflect at a high level the policies, service delivery and supports that impact on wellbeing across the 3 sides of the ‘My World Triangle’ recognises that children and young people’s individual development takes place in the context of their caregiving environment and family networks, which in turn are influenced by community impacts and societal factors. Shared aims are set out in Annex B.
  • The Transforming Outcomes Routemap – two high-level driver diagrams which set out the areas of individual and collective activity at a strategic, operational, and frontline practice level required to improve outcomes – essentially ‘what’ we do, and ‘how’ we need to do it.
  • A set of Core Wellbeing Indicators – 21 high-level measures which show us what difference we are making, covering key aspects of wellbeing, based on data currently available at both a national and local level.

The CYPF Outcomes Framework was co-developed through an intense process of stakeholder collaboration.

It is based on the current evidence base of factors known to influence wellbeing, and has been substantially informed by what children, young people and families have told us matters most. As well as drawing on key messages from a review of existing engagements with children, young people and families, additional new engagement was undertaken via youth and parent/carer participation forums.

Stakeholders have played a key role in the development of the framework to ensure its alignment with wider activity on outcomes and data. This included Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads, The Promise Scotland, Public Health Scotland, COSLA, Children in Scotland, Local Government Improvement Service, CELCIS, ADES, and Scottish Government policy teams including the National Performance Framework and Children and Families Analysis.

The approach of the CYPF Outcomes Framework has been endorsed by COSLA Children and Young People Board, the then COVID-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (now Children and Families National Leadership Group) and the Scottish Government Directors’ Group on Improving Outcomes for Children and Families. It was made available for use as from 1 April 2022, with a ‘soft launch’ agreed in order to learn from embedding its application in practice.

The framework provides a structured approach through which Scottish Government and public and third sector partners are taking steps to enhance collective accountability for improving outcomes for children, young people and families. This includes a greater focus on impact, not outputs, and development of a more outcomes-based approach to national and local reporting.

As part of the next stages of work, data mapping to understand the range of underpinning deep-dive data relevant to wellbeing of children, young people and families is in progress. This will help to identify data gaps, as well as enabling a more holistic understanding of the evidence base around outcomes for children and young people to inform decision-making on policy development and strategic planning and delivery of services and supports to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

1.2 The Core Wellbeing Indicator Set

The purpose of the Core Wellbeing Indicator Set is to provide a high level holistic overview of wellbeing of children, young people and families in Scotland, and to allow monitoring over time. This will help evidence the extent to which we are making progress at national and local level in achieving wellbeing outcomes, and the extent to which we are moving in the desired direction and closing wellbeing gaps. This will also help to identify where further priority by Scottish Government, stakeholder organisations, and Children’s Services Planning partners is required.

The Core Wellbeing Indicator Set consists of 21 indicators. These cover key aspects of wellbeing and reflect all eight Wellbeing Outcomes, as well as spanning the three sides of the My World Triangle. It was developed through an in-depth collaborative process with a wide range of stakeholders and is informed by engagement with children and young people to identify the key topics to be covered by indicators. Annex C presents these topics mapped against the My World Triangle, SHANARRI and UNCRC articles.

At a local level, the core wellbeing indicators provide a level of consistency within local reporting by public and third sector partners on each area’s Children’s Services Plan (CSP) and annual reports. The indicators were agreed by key stakeholder and governance groups as part of the wider CYPF Outcomes Framework and made available for use as from April 2022. Children’s Services Planning Partnerships (CSPP’s) were encouraged to use these indicators as part of their next Children’s Services Plans (2023-2026) and in annual reports for 2022/23 onwards, as far as possible – recognising that not all areas have yet taken part in the new Health and Wellbeing Census (see below).

The indicators will provide a consistent shared reporting across all CSPPs. This will be supplemented through relevant deep dives or locally available data as appropriate to national and local strategic priorities and in relation to local planning, delivery, impact monitoring and progress reporting on how improvements are being made in wellbeing of children, young people and families living in that area, as a result of the local Children’s Services Plan.

Similarly, at a national level, the Core Wellbeing Indicator Set will provide some consistency across different areas of policy, where this contributes to the wellbeing of children, young people and families, as well as providing consistency between national and local level reporting. By providing this high level and holistic shared picture, the indicators facilitate monitoring the potential collective impact of national policies, strategies and delivery action plans on the overall wellbeing of children, young people and families. They also allow policy teams across different directorates of the Scottish Government to better understand wellbeing gaps for particular groups of children and young people and to consider any action needed to address them, drawing on wider and more in-depth data and evidence as required.

It is intended that reporting on the core wellbeing indicators will be repeated at regular intervals, potentially in line with the three yearly Children’s Services Planning cycle.

One example of the use of the core indicators at national level is in supporting joined-up work towards tackling child poverty. The child poverty targets are not an end in themselves. Ultimately, they are about improving the wellbeing of children, young people and parents or carers, and enhancing their quality of life and life chances. We know that poorer outcomes are driven by experiences of poverty, and so reducing child poverty, through increasing household income and reducing costs of living, is one important mechanism for doing so. But it is not the only mechanism. We recognise that there are many other important actions being taken forward across the Scottish Government and by local Children’s Services Planning partners in the public and third sector, to plan and deliver services and support aimed at improving life experiences and life chances. To deepen our understanding of these wider policies on progress towards child poverty outcomes, a focussed report looking in detail at the CYPF Outcomes Framework core wellbeing indicators by indices of deprivation will be published by the end of 2023.

1.3 Indicator data sources

The 21 indicators are drawn from a range of data sources. Only sources which provide data at both a national and local level were considered in the development process, to enable consistency of reporting between national and local levels. A number of national-only data sources used in the National Performance Framework and other relevant national frameworks on particular aspects of wellbeing were therefore excluded from consideration for the Core Wellbeing Indicator set.

Reflecting the lack of capacity for additional data collection within local areas, only existing or confirmed planned data sources were included. However, as part of the development process, evidence gaps were highlighted for consideration in future data development work to be carried out as part of the next phase of the Outcomes Framework. Where more meaningful measures are needed, the development of these will be co-developed working closely with stakeholders, ensuring the views of children and young people are integral to this.

Attempts were made during the development process to include indicators which considered children and young people of all ages. While pre-school aged children are reflected through the early child development and Early Learning and Childcare indicators, it is acknowledged that available data sources for this age group, and early primary-school aged children which met the criteria for Core Wellbeing Indicator selection were more limited. More detailed indicators for this age group are being considered as part of policy development with a focus on early years, as well as exploring the potential of age-group disaggregation (e.g. children under 5, young people aged 16-18) within other core wellbeing indicators, where this is not currently available.

Annex D lists data sources and includes a link to the relevant publication, for each of the 21 Core Wellbeing Indicators. The data for most indicators is from 2021-22. This means that data will inevitably reflect how the COVID-19 Pandemic and cost of living crisis have impacted on the lived experiences of children, young people and families across Scotland. This has affected all children and young people, but is recognised to have disproportionately affected those facing inequalities or with vulnerabilities.

It should be noted that the source of 12 of the 21 indicators is the Health and Wellbeing Census (HWBC). This provides local level data as well as a wide range of socio-demographic characteristics, including variables where sample sizes in other surveys are often insufficient for reporting, e.g. minority ethnic groups and young carers. However, as a new data collection it does not currently provide time series data.

The HWBC data are the aggregated results for the 16 local authority areas which collected data in 2021-22. All young people in P5 – S6 were invited to take part, with just over 134,000 responses included in the analysis. Figures present the aggregated results for those areas who collected data and are not weighted to population totals. However, the sample of children and young people included in the HWBC mirrors the school population by sex and deprivation (SIMD). As such, these statistics can generally be treated as representative of, and showing a national picture.The Scottish Government will continue to work closely with Children’s Services Planning Partnership areas and local authorities to improve coverage of HWBC in future years.

1.4 Structure of the report

The remainder of this report is structured around the three sides of the My World Triangle, with the relevant indicators presented within each chapter. For each indicator, a definition and rationale for its inclusion is provided, and headline data are presented. This is followed by time series data, where available, to set the most recent findings in context and show improving or worsening trends; and a summary of socio-demographic breakdowns to highlight particular gaps in outcomes for particular groups of children and young people. Where differences between socio-economic groups are presented, these are statistically significant.



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