Children's services planning: guidance

Updated guidance (2020) for local authorities and health boards on exercising the functions conferred by Part 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

Links with Statutory Plans, Non-Statutory Plans and Policy

152. As noted in the Introduction, children’s services planning is part of a wider legal framework within which local planning and reporting takes place. This chapter considers some of the links between key planning and policy requirements related to the provision of children’s or related services.

Principles and objectives of statutory plans

153. All statutory planning processes are designed to facilitate the delivery of improved outcomes for Scotland’s population. Set out across various parliamentary acts and regulations, the duties emphasise the importance of consultation and accountability, and of collaboration and joint working. They embed a common focus on the challenge of tackling disadvantage and inequality, and encourage public bodies and practitioners to attend to this task through a coordinated and evidence-led use of their resources.

154. In their response to the Christie Commission’s final report, the Scottish Government identified four pillars of public service reform:[23]

  • a decisive shift towards prevention;
  • greater integration of public services at a local level driven by better partnerships, collaboration and effective local delivery;
  • greater investment in the people who deliver services through enhanced workforce development and effective leadership; and
  • a sharp focus on improving performance, through greater transparency, innovation and use of digital technology.

155. These are the pillars on which the various planning duties are built. They represent the thread which ties distinct processes together into a broader strategic agenda, empowering communities by ensuring that the planning and delivery of public services is open and inclusive, informed by a detailed understanding of the population’s needs, and local knowledge about what works to improve outcomes.  

Non-statutory plans

156. Local authorities and territorial health boards are also party to a number of non-statutory planning requirements, set out across a variety of national strategies and agreements. These non-statutory requirements can cover key policy areas, including child protection, drug and alcohol services, and housing. 

157. As with statutory planning requirements, a Children’s Services Plan could usefully articulate the relationship between itself and these other planning processes, as well as providing appropriate cross referencing and consistency of vision, priorities and objectives.

158. This chapter provides a summary of relevant legislation, policy, national strategies and Scottish Government programmes. Every local authority and their relevant health board are encouraged to consider how these agendas are addressed in, or by, their Children’s Services Plan. 

Identifying links at the local level

159. At a local level, identifying and clarifying the relationships between different planning and reporting processes has a number of potential benefits. For instance, to help improve efficiency it may be possible to use the same activity, such as consultation, needs assessment or progress reporting, to satisfy statutory requirements under multiple planning systems. Moreover, identifying the links is an important step in realising the joined-up delivery of public services recommended by the Christie Commission; if the planning of different services is not coordinated and joined up, it is unlikely that delivery will be.

160. Each local area may choose to link planning requirements in different ways, in reference to existing practice and local arrangements (such as whether integration joint boards are responsible for children’s health and social care services). In some cases, a local area may choose to link different planning or reporting processes through a simple “parent-child” relationship, with service-level plans and reports feeding into broader strategic documents. In other cases, where a local area operates two planning processes in parallel, there will be opportunities to share information and insight between the systems. Ultimately however, whatever configuration chosen, all local planning is focused on the achievement of the same aim: the improved wellbeing of the local population, through the delivery of efficient and effective public services. 

Links to children’s services planning

161. Where possible, a local Children’s Services Plan may wish to detail (either through a narrative or visualisation) how the links are being made between the different statutory planning and reporting requirements. This will enable other organisations involved in children’s services planning (such as those responding to a consultation or request for assistance) to see how a Children’s Services Plan (and the process underpinning it) is connected into the wider planning landscape. 

Community planning

162. Community planning is about how public bodies work together with the local community to plan for, resource, and provide services which improve local outcomes. Part 2 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 places
a range of duties on community planning partners in order to strengthen community planning (replacing provisions in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003). Among the duties, the community planning partnership (CPP) is required to prepare and publish a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan which sets out the local outcomes the CPP has prioritised for improvement[24]. In preparing the plan, the CPP is obliged to make all reasonable efforts to secure the participation of community bodies in the planning process. In carrying out their functions, the CPP is required to do so with a view to reducing inequalities of outcomes which result from socio-economic disadvantage.    

163. The duties in Part 2 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 are intended to support an increase in the pace and scale of public service reform by cementing the focus on achieving outcomes and improving the process of community planning. This central purpose is mirrored in children’s services planning. Both seek to deliver better outcomes for the population by promoting a collaborative, partnership approach between public bodies and communities, and keeping a focus on tackling inequalities. While there are a number of important differences in the requirements of the two Acts (such as around the setting of aims and reporting criteria), they share similar approaches and ambitions for collaborative working together and with the local community to improve agreed local outcomes and reduce inequalities. Aligning these two planning systems, where possible, could bring benefits to both, ensuring a continuity and congruence between plans, and enhancing the CPP’s ownership of the local strategy for improving the wellbeing of children and young people.

164. For further information, please refer to the statutory guidance on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Health and Social Care Integration 

165. The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, which came into effect in 2016, legislated for the integration of health and social care services across Scotland. The Act requires local authorities and health boards to set up an Integration Authority (either a body corporate model, delegating services to an Integration Joint Board; or a lead agency model, delegating services between each other) and to jointly prepare an integration scheme which sets out how they will plan, provide and monitor all adult social care, primary and community healthcare and some specific hospital services, such as accident and emergency and general medicine in their local area. A Health and Social Care Partnership is the operational and delivery aspect of integration, bringing together staff from the relevant health board and local authority. The Act also permits local authorities and health boards to integrate other services, such as children’s services, homelessness and criminal justice, if they wish to do so – and some services (such as Accident and Emergency, primary care and general dental services) are not population specific, therefore relate to services used by adults and children. 

166. At its heart, integration is about ensuring those who use health and social care services get the right care and support whatever their needs, at the right time and in the right setting at any point in their care journey, with a focus on community-based and preventative care.

167. Under the Public Bodies Act, every Integration Authority must prepare and publish a Strategic Plan, setting out how they will plan and deliver services for their area over the medium-term using the integrated budgets under their control and setting out how these will meet the National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes set by Scottish Ministers.[25]

168. The Strategic Plan is the output of what is commonly referred to as strategic commissioning, defined by Statutory Guidance as ‘the term used for all activities involved in assessing and forecasting needs, linking investment to agreed outcomes, considering options, planning the nature, range and quality of future services and working in partnership to put these in place’.

169. The Strategic Plan must be prepared with regard to the “integration delivery principles”, as detailed in section 31 of the Public Bodies Act, and must be reviewed at least every three years. The Strategic Plans are underpinned by a suite of specific plans which provide more detail on how Integration Authorities will support and provide care for those in the partnership area with specific complex care needs. 

170. An integration authority is also required to prepare an annual performance report on, among other things, how the arrangements in the strategic plan are contributing to achieving the nine National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes. These reports are required to cover all services provided in the exercise of functions delegated to the integration authority, including, where applicable, children’s services.

171. As the children’s services planning requirements encompass a wider range of services than health and social care, a local authority and the relevant health board could employ the approach of the health and social care Strategic Plan, to the extent that it relates to children’s services, as potentially feeding into the broader Children’s Services Plan. The integration delivery principles which underpin a Strategic Plan would be consistent with the aims underpinning children’s services planning. The National Health and Wellbeing Outcomes are based on similar principles to the Health and Social Care Standards which inform the self-assessment and inspection of all children’s health and social care services.

172. The precise nature of the relationship between these two planning requirements will in large part be contingent on whether (and which) children’s health and social care services have been included in the integration scheme. No matter how functions are delegated at a local level, there will always need to be communication between these two planning domains in order to support the whole family approach. 

173. From the perspective of children’s services planning, the adult health and social care context is important because most children live in families with adults. Adult family members’ access to, and the quality of, health and social care services, is likely to have an effect on the wellbeing of children and young people. Similarly, for the providers of adult health and social care services, children and young people represent future service users. As part of their longer term planning strategy, integration authorities will need to work with the relevant local authority and health board to monitor the health and wellbeing of the child population in the area, understanding needs, identifying potential issues and, with partners, putting in place appropriate preventative actions.

174. Furthermore, in order to achieve the statutory aims prescribed for both a Strategic Plan and a Children’s Services Plan, consideration may usefully be given (by integration authorities, local authorities and relevant health boards) to the transitions between children’s services and adult services. These transitions have been identified as points where service support for individuals can be at risk of inadequate coordination, leading to a negative impact on wellbeing. 

175. For further information, please refer to the guidance prepared to assist implementation of the Public Bodies (Joint Working) Scotland Act 2014.[26]

Children’s rights

176. Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places duties on Scottish Ministers aimed at furthering the effect of the UNCRC in Scotland. These include: keeping under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC and, if appropriate, taking steps identified by that consideration; taking such account as Ministers consider appropriate of any relevant views of children; and promoting public awareness and understanding of children’s rights, including amongst children. These duties also require Ministers to report to the Parliament every 3 years on relevant progress and their plans for the subsequent 3 year period.

177. Part 1 of the Act has also placed a duty on a wide range of public authorities to report every 3 years on the steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the UNCRC requirements within their areas of responsibility. The first reports are due as soon as practicable after 1 April 2020. Some public authorities to which Part 1 applies will also be subject to duties under Part 3 (Children’s Services Planning); in particular, local authorities and health boards.

178. Part 1 (section 2) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places a duty on a range of public authorities (including all local authorities and territorial health boards) to report, as soon as practicable after the end of each three-year period, on the steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect within its areas of responsibility to the UNCRC requirements. The public authorities subject to this duty can choose to satisfy it “in such a manner as the authority considers appropriate”, such as through the preparation of a specific report, or by including relevant information in another report. Two or more public authorities can also satisfy this duty through the preparation and publication of a joint report. 

179. For local authorities and territorial health boards, children’s services planning offers a potential structure for the fulfilment of their children’s rights reporting duty. A local authority and health board could, for instance, incorporate their children’s rights report into their annual Children’s Services Plan report (required under Part 3 (section 13) of the Act). Or, alternatively, they could incorporate their children’s rights report into the final annual report of the children’s services planning cycle (which is linked to the same three-year period as Part 1). 

180. Children’s services planning also presents a local authority and relevant health board with a valuable opportunity to give children’s rights real articulation in practice. For instance, a local authority and its relevant health board could, in consultation with its partners and community, choose to set themselves an aim, within their Children’s Services Plan, “to secure better or further effect …. of the UNCRC requirements”. Their plan could then articulate what steps will be taken, over the three-year period, to achieve this aim, and, as mentioned above, annual reports could document progress. 

181. An effective way to consider children’s rights is to undertake a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) in relation to the planning process and the services included in it. Considering both rights and wellbeing to inform the structural, procedural and outcome framework of a Children’s Services Plan offers potential advantages. For example, this approach could be useful for identifying early intervention and prevention activities that could benefit specific groups of children and young people in the longer term. Use of the CRWIA, can also assist in documenting progress of local rights-based services agendas. Further information is provided in the Guidance on Part 1 (Duties of Public Authorities in Relation to the UNCRC) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

182. Although the alignment of Part 1 and Part 3 duties is not required by the Act, to do so may well benefit both processes and help to cement the links between children’s rights and wellbeing. 

183. For further information on children’s rights reporting, please refer to the guidance on Part 1 (Children’s Rights) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

184. The Scottish Government is committed to incorporating the UNCRC into domestic law by Spring 2021. As a result new duties may be placed on public authorities, including local authorities and health boards.  Planning partners may need to review their planning processes in accordance with any new requirements.

Child Poverty

185. The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017 places new requirements on local authorities and Health Boards to jointly produce annual Local Child Poverty Action Reports (LCPARs), aligning to the reporting cycle for Children’s Services Plans. 

186. ‘Every Child, Every Chance’, the Scottish Government’s first Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, outlines the three key drivers of child poverty which are: Employment - Income from parents' work and earnings is insufficient to lift them from poverty; 

Household costs - The costs of living that households have to cover are too high; and 

Social Security - Income from social security has been cut back significantly by the UK Government, particularly for families with children, and is now inadequate to lift families from poverty. 

The Plan also sets out action to improve the life chances of children living in poverty now. 

187. LCPARs prepared by local areas should be aligned to these three key drivers and outline the impact they will have in this regard. It should be clear how action is assisting to meet the national targets set and what further action will be taken in future. It is recommended that actions and indicators on child poverty, recorded in the Children’s Services Plan, also form a key element of the annual LCPAR, and each report should cross-refer to the other.

Corporate parenting

188. Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 designates certain public bodies (including all local authorities and territorial health boards) as corporate parents, and places them under a range of duties designed to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers. 

189. Each corporate parent is required to prepare a plan about how they propose to exercise their corporate parenting duties, and they must keep the plan under review. Before preparing or revising this plan, a corporate parent must consult with other corporate parents and such other persons as they consider appropriate. (Statutory guidance makes clear that consultation should include looked after children and care leavers.) Corporate parents must publish their plan in such a manner as they consider appropriate; this could include incorporating it into another plan, or publishing it jointly with other corporate parents. Neither the Act nor statutory guidance prescribes a time period to which plans must apply. 

190. Corporate parents are also under a duty to report on how they have exercised their corporate parenting duties. These reports may include information about standards of performance, and the progress achieved in securing positive outcomes for the eligible population. The Act does not prescribe a time period to which reporting must refer, but statutory guidance recommends that reports are prepared and published at least once every three years from the date of commencement (April 2015); corporate parents are entitled to publish reports more frequently if they wish, to facilitate alignment with other reporting requirements.  

191. The flexibility afforded to corporate parents around the timescales and manner in which they must fulfil their Part 9 duties presents a local authority and a relevant health board with multiple opportunities to align corporate parenting and children’s services planning requirements, should they wish. Moreover, as a corporate parenting plan and report will detail the provision of a wide range of children’s and related services, alignment could minimise duplication.  

192. For further information on corporate parenting, please refer to the Statutory Guidance on Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. 

Child protection

193. Legislation places a variety of duties and responsibilities on services and organisations in respect to child protection in Scotland. These relate, primarily, to the investigation and response required in cases of (actual or potential) child abuse and/or neglect. However, at the time of this guidance’s publication, the specific structures of collaboration and service-level planning for child protection (such as Child Protection Committees) are not prescribed in legislation. These structures and processes are instead set out in detailed national guidance.[27]

194. The roles, responsibilities and accountability of Chief Officers and Child Protection Committees were reviewed in 2018. They are outlined in the document entitled Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer Responsibilities (Scottish Government, 2019).

195. The Chief Constable, and the Chief Executives of Health Boards and of local authorities are referred to as Chief Officers. They are the members of ‘Chief Officer’s Groups’, responsible for ensuring that their agency, individually and collectively, works to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. 

196. The Chief Officers of Health and Social Care Partnerships (Integration Joint Boards) are accountable to the Chief Executives of the Local Authority and the Health Board that make up their partnership for their role in relation to child protection and other aspects of public protection. These Chief Officers must be appropriately linked to local governance arrangements for the protection of children in their area. This applies regardless of whether children’s services are in the scheme of integration.

197. Local Police Commanders and Chief Executives of Health Boards and Local Authorities are responsible for ensuring that their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. They also have responsibility for integrating the contribution of those agencies not under their direct control, including the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the third sector.

198. Chief Officers are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees (CPCs).

199. The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014) emphasises the importance of planning by all relevant services. It states that “child protection planning should fit with the wider planning processes in the local area, showing how child protection is integral to wider economic and social objectives as expressed through community and integrated children services planning […]”.[27] While there is no statutory requirement to undertake a discrete “child protection planning” process in a local area, the National Guidance is clear that Children’s Services Plans should “include planned action to take forward improvements in services to protect children and meet their needs”, and that it is through children’s services planning that child protection planning should be linked in with wider local and national processes, such as Local Outcome Improvement Plans.[29]

200. Revision of the National Guidance for Child Protection is part of the Child Protection Improvement Plan (CPIP), initiated in 2016.  The Revision is necessary to ensure it is consistent with the legislative and policy framework and current practice developments. Publication of the revision is due in 2020.

201. The Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation (FRAME) for under 18 year olds, supports a consistent approach to the way in which agencies assess, manage and evaluate the risks presented by children who display serious harmful behaviour.  It aims to achieve this by establishing agreed values, a structured approach, shared practice standards and a common language of risk.  FRAME outlines the Care and Risk Management (CARM) processes which may be applied when a child has been involved in an incident of a serious nature (irrespective of the legal status of the incident) or where a pattern of significant escalation of lesser behaviours suggests that an incident of a serious nature may be imminent.  The assessment of intent and the potential for harm should be the key measures which influence the decision to progress with CARM processes.  

202. Local planning and reporting arrangements for child protection are at the discretion of Chief Officers and Child Protection Committees, but the National Guidance recommends that every local Child Protection Committee produces an annual plan/report, outlining the activities of agencies working together to protect children. In those local areas where such a plan and/or report is produced, it is important that the process is fully integrated into the wider Children’s Service Planning framework. The child protection planning process should be seen as a component part of children’s services planning, contributing to the local Children’s Services Plan and annual progress report (as required under section 13 of the Act).    

National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education

203. The Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 requires the Scottish Ministers to publish a National Improvement Framework . The legislation requires (amongst other duties) that, from August 2017, all education authorities prepare and publish annual plans describing the steps they intend to take during the planning period in pursuance of the National Improvement Framework for Scottish education. The annual plan must also describe the steps they intend to take to reduce the inequalities of outcome experienced by pupils as a result of socio-economic disadvantage and the ways in which they will consult key partners when deciding how this should be achieved. Finally, the plan must set out any educational benefits they intend to secure as a result of taking all of these steps. Education authorities must give a copy of the annual plan to the Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after publishing the plan.

204. Education authorities are also required to ensure that annual School Improvement Plans and associated reports (required under section 6 of the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000), take into account the plans, reports and parental strategy published by the education authority. The education authority’s early learning and childcare plan developed under Part 6 Section 50 (1) (b) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act will also be relevant, given the integrated nature of 3-18 Scotland’s curriculum.

205. While the Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 does require the preparation of an annual plan, this does not prevent that process from informing the preparation and review of a Children’s Services Plan. Whilst the duties linked to National Improvement Framework focus on the responsibilities of education authorities specifically, schools (and education services more generally) will represent a very significant part of a Children’s Services Plan. Similarly, when the local authority and relevant health board is identifying how its Children’s Services Plan can support delivery of national agreed priorities for education (set out through the National Improvement Framework), it is likely that actions will involve children’s services out-with “education”, such as social work and health. This highlights the importance, and opportunity, of aligning these two planning requirements.

Early learning and childcare, school education for pre-school children (discretionary early learning and childcare) and day care and out of school care

206. Part 6 (section 50) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 places the education authority under a duty to consult and plan, at least once every two years, about how it (the education authority) should make early learning and childcare[30] available. Similarly, Part 7 (section 54) amends section 1 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 to place the education authority under a duty to consult, at least once every two years, “such persons as appear to be representative” of parents of pre-school children about whether and how it should exercise its power to provide discretionary early learning and childcare under the 1980 Act. Finally, Part 8 (section 55) amends section 27 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 to place the local authority under a duty to consult, at least once every two years, with “such persons as appear to be representative” of parents of young children and school aged “children in need” about how they should provide day care and out of school care for such children; and, for children not in need, if and how they should provide day care and out of school care.  

207. Each of these Parts of the legislation requires the authority to consult with parents as appear to them to be representative of parents of children under school age (and, for part 8, school age); have regard to the views expressed; and, prepare and publish plans in relation to how mandatory early learning and childcare will be made available; and, publish plans in relation to other provision.  

208. As all of the services to which Parts 6, 7 and 8 relate will be considered “children’s services” under the definition set out in Part 3 (section 7) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, a local authority and relevant health board may wish to use these plans to inform their broader children’s services planning process. Consultation with relevant parents will be carried out at least every two years, under Parts 6, 7 and 8. The legislation does not specify how plans (prepared under Parts 6, 7 and 8) must be published; however the intention is to establish on-going or frequent dialogue. 

209. Combined, the provisions under Parts 6, 7 and 8 provide an opportunity to consult more widely on early learning and childcare, beyond the mandatory minimum entitlement.  This broader consultation will create an opportunity for local authorities to co-ordinate planning of mandatory early learning and childcare, day-care and out of school care alongside discretionary provision, with local authorities having the powers to deliver or support. 

210. In addition, a local authority (acting in its capacity of an education authority) and relevant health board may, should they wish, explore including these plans as part of their triennial Children’s Services Plan.

211. For further information, please refer to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Early Learning and Childcare Statutory Guidance

Community learning and development

212. The Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (issued under the section 2 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) place every local authority under a duty to prepare, consult on and publish a three-year plan for the provision of community learning and development (CLD) in the local area.[31] The first CLD plan had to be published by 1st September 2015 and subsequently each third year from the date of publication of the previous plan. 

213. CLD refers to programmes with an explicit learning focus and other types of activity that are designed to promote educational and social development. CLD is delivered by a wide range of organisations in the public and voluntary sectors; its objective is to secure improved life chances for people of all ages, including young people in particular, through learning, personal development and active citizenship. In this way CLD contributes to securing stronger, more resilient, supportive, influential and inclusive communities. 

214. Accessible to both children, young people (including those who have left school) and adults, many CLD programmes are likely to fall within the scope of the Children’s Services Plan. It will, therefore, be important, as noted above, that appropriate linkages are made between the CLD and children’s services planning processes. In respect to the consultation duty specifically, the potential for some alignment clearly exists, with crossover in terms of the service users covered by both plans.   

215. For further information on CLD, please refer to the Strategic Guidance for Community Planning Partnerships: Community Learning and Development, and the Requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013: Guidance for Local Authorities.

Self-directed support

216. The Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013 (the “Self-directed Support Act”) is intended to support, promote and protect the human rights and independent living of children and adults who use social care support in Scotland. 

217. Section 1 of The Self-directed Support Act establishes new principles of collaboration, informed choice and involvement, to which a local authority must have regard to carrying out its functions under, among other provisions, sections 22 to 24 of the Act (or Part 2 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968).  A person must be given as much involvement as they wish in relation to the assessment of their needs for support or services and the provision of support or services for the person. A local authority is also under a duty with respect to adults, children/families, adult carers and young carers, to take reasonable steps to facilitate a person’s dignity and participation in the life of the community; which parallels their obligation to promote the “included” aspect of a child’s wellbeing.

218. The Self-directed Support Act provides that people who are eligible for support under sections 22 to 24 of the Children’s Act must be involved in decisions about what support or services they need and how these are delivered. This re-balancing of power between the practitioner and the child or family seeks to ensure that the families can direct their care support in a way that focuses on the aspects of life that matter to them – which may look very different to traditional services. 

219. To facilitate greater choice and control over one’s own self-directed support, section 4 of the Self-directed Support Act requires a local authority to offer four options to the supported person: Option 1, a direct payment to the individual or the appropriate person[32] which can be used to meet the agreed outcomes for the provision of support; Option 2, giving the individual (or their appropriate person) the power to direct the available support where arrangements for support are made by the local authority (including payment where the support is provided by someone other than the local authority); Option 3, support arranged for the person by the local authority (including payment where the support is provided by someone other than the local authority); and Option 4, a mix of the first 3 options. The local authority is also under a duty to explain the nature and effect of the four options to all eligible people, and to signpost them to other sources of information and support (such as independent advocacy). 

220. It is recognised that self-directed support is not yet fully embedded as Scotland’s approach to social care support and action is being taken to accelerate change. The Self-directed Support Implementation Plan 2019-2021 sets out agreed national actions to drive forward the changes necessary to make self-directed support a reality everywhere. For further information on self-directed support, please refer to the Scottish Government (2014) Statutory Guidance to accompany the Social Care (Self-directed Support) Act 2013. This guidance was issued to local authorities by the Scottish Ministers under section 5 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 following the passing of the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act 2013.

Local Carer Strategy (including young carers)

221. The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 (“the Carers Act”) puts in place a system of carers’ rights designed to listen to carers; improve consistency of support; and prevent problems – helping sustain caring relationships and protect carers’ health and wellbeing. For young carers, one aim of the Carers Act is to protect them from undertaking caring responsibilities and tasks which are inappropriate, having regards to their age and maturity.

222. Section 31 of the Carers Act requires each local authority and their relevant health board to jointly prepare a local carer strategy, setting out their plans to identify and support relevant carers. Whilst the duty to prepare local carer strategies applies to local authorities and relevant health boards (defined by section 31(6) of the Carers Act), it is delegated to integration joint boards[33].  

223. A “relevant carer” means a carer who either resides in the area of the local authority (irrespective of whether the person they care for or intend to provide care for lives in that area) or a carer who does not live in the local authority area but the person whom they care for or intend to provide care for does.

224. The local carer strategy must contain information relating to the particular needs and circumstances of young carers. This information must include all the issues covered by section 31(2) of the Carers Act.  As the Carers Act does not specify in what format this information should be included in the local carers strategy, this allows for local discretion on whether to provide a single local carer strategy covering both adult carers and young carers or whether the local carer strategy consists of two documents, one in relation to adult carers and a separate document covering young carers.

225. Before preparing a local carer strategy, section 31 of the Carers Act provides that the local authority and health board must jointly consult with such persons and bodies representative of carers, as they consider appropriate, and take such steps as they consider appropriate to involve relevant carers. In preparing the plan the local authority and relevant health board must have regard to, among other things, any plans for the provision of services relevant to young carers set out in the local Children’s Services Plan, and to the statutory aims of children’s services planning set out in section 9(2) of the Children and Young People Act 2014. Each local authority and relevant health board are required to jointly publish, keep under review and, if necessary, revise their local carer strategy. 

226. The Carers Act contains a number of provisions regarding young carers. Section 1 provides that a “carer” is an individual who provides or intends to provide care for another individual. A “young carer” is defined in section 2 as a carer who is under 18 years old, or has reached the age of 18 years old while a pupil at school and has remained at school since attaining that age. Section 12 of the Carers Act places a duty on local authorities (or in most cases where the young carer is a pre-school child, the health board for the area in which the child resides) to offer a young carer statement where it identifies a child as a young carer. Where a young carer accepts this offer or requests a young carer statement, the local authority (or health board) must prepare a young carer statement.  

227. The young carer statement provides a framework for the identification of the personal outcomes and individual needs for support of young carers by the relevant authority (or health board). The young carer statement must contain information set out in section 15 of the Carers Act, which includes amongst other things, the nature and extent of the care provided or to be provided, information about the impact of caring on the young carer’s wellbeing and day-to-day life and information about the extent to which the local authority (or health board) considers that the nature and extent of care provided by the young carer is appropriate. Even where a young carer has reached the age of 18, the young carer statement and any support associated with it must continue until an adult carer support plan is provided. Where a young carer's identified needs meet local eligibility criteria, the local authority is under a duty to provide support, if they have identified needs which cannot be met by services to the cared-for person or services provided generally in the community, including information and advice services. The local authority also has a power to provide support to the young carer to meet needs which do not meet local eligibility criteria.

228. Part 4 of the Carers Act also introduces rights for adult carers and young carers to be involved when assessing the needs of the person being cared for as well as before a cared-for person is discharged from hospital.

229. Scottish Ministers have prepared and published a Carers’ charter, under section 36 of the Carers Act, setting out the rights of adult carers and young carers as provided for in or under the Carers Act.  For further information on the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, please refer to the relevant Scottish Government webpages[34]

Joint inspections of children’s services

230. The Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 Section 115 enables Scottish Ministers to request joint inspections of children’s services. At the request of Scottish Ministers, the Care Inspectorate leads joint inspections of services for children and young people across Scotland. The current joint inspection approach focusses on services for children and young people in need of care and protection. This refers to children and young people in need of protection and children, young people and young adults for whom community planning partnerships have corporate parenting responsibilities. 

231. The Care Inspectorate has produced a quality framework for children and young people in need of care and protection 2019 (revised) (QIF) which supports joint self-evaluation and continuous improvement and includes the set of quality indicators used for joint inspections. Quality indicator 6.2 “planning and improving services” particularly references children’s services planning arrangements and includes illustrations of very good and weak evaluations. Based on learning from previous joint inspections of services for children and young people, the Care Inspectorate has identified ten steps to successful children’s services planning with the aim of supporting the work of Community Planning Partnerships, which can be found in Appendix B.

Equally Safe

232. Scotland’s strategy for the prevention and eradication of violence against women and girls, sets out a vision of a strong and flourishing Scotland where all individuals are equally safe and protected, and where women and girls live free from violence and abuse and the attitudes that help to perpetuate it. In order to realise this vision, the Equally Safe delivery plan sets out various actions to ensure that women and children have access to relevant, effective and integrated services and that these services can competently identify violence against women and girls and respond effectively.

Health and Social Care Standards

233. The Health and Social Care Standards [35]set out what everyone should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland. They seek to provide better outcomes for everyone; to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld. The objectives of the Standards are to drive improvement, promote flexibility and encourage innovation in how people are cared for and supported. The standards cover five key principles: dignity and respect; compassion; be included; responsive care and support; and wellbeing. 

Continuing Care

234. Continuing Care was introduced through Part 11 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and should be considered one component of a wider range of support providing a consistent approach which reflects individual needs and aspirations of young people leaving care.

235. Continuing Care is defined in the Act as meaning the same accommodation and other assistance as was being provided for the eligible person by the local authority, immediately before the person ceased to be looked after.

236. The provisions of the legislation entitle an eligible young person (subject to certain exceptions, such as when providing Continuing Care would significantly adversely affect the welfare of the young person) who is looked after in foster, kinship, or residential care to remain in their current care placement up to their twenty-first birthday.

237. Continuing Care stresses the importance of encouraging and enabling young people to remain in their care setting until they are able to demonstrate their readiness and willingness to move on to interdependent living. The policy is intended to minimise the multiple simultaneous disruptions that happen in a young person’s life as they approach adulthood; and allows young people to maintain and build on the strong and positive relationships between them and their carer.

238. Non statutory national guidance on Continuing Care was published on the Scottish Government website to reinforce the legal and ethical responsibilities of local authorities towards looked after young people and care leavers and to explain the local authorities’ duty to provide Continuing Care.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health

239. In its final recommendations to the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) in July 2019, the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce emphasised the importance of local partnerships demonstrating their commitment to driving reform of Scotland’s approach to children and young people’s mental health. They should make it a visible priority, not least within children’s services plans. 

240. Support for children’s mental health straddles the work of services across different bodies and services and requires a joined-up strategic and operational planning approach to ensure Getting it right for every child principles address the mental and emotional wellbeing needs of children at the earliest point. 

241. Children’s services planning should explicitly set out the local needs of children and young people in their area through their strategic needs assessment, and the steps to be taken to improve individual services and joint planning across different organisations. Planning should make clear how different services should work together to achieve this common strategic goal, taking into account the development of any new services, such as community wellbeing services, and the particular needs of any groups of children requiring specific action.

242. Collective responsibility for improving mental health outcomes for children and their families should ideally be clearly expressed in children’s services plans. Whilst Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is an essential element in this respect, access to support should be as early as possible, with a range of provision including preventative services and approaches, in order to address concerns as they arise. It is good practice for planning to be clear about the support of young people transitioning into adult services. Key outcome measures that capture local improvement in children’s mental health support and outcomes are important in being able to demonstrate the extent to which the provision of services in accordance with the plan have achieved the aims outlined in section 9(2) of the 2014 Act.

Youth Justice

243. The national youth justice strategy “Preventing Offending: Getting it Right for Children and Young People”, published in June 2015, builds on the considerable progress that has been made in reducing offending involving children and young people in Scotland since 2008, when a more preventative approach was adopted. This focus on early intervention laid the foundations for a whole system approach to offending by young people, which was rolled out across Scotland in 2011. 

244. The importance of sustaining a preventative approach to offending, which recognises the level of complexity and risk associated with a small number of children, should not be underestimated. Planning for services to address needs and risks, can include intensive interventions up to and including secure care.

245. Integration and sustainability of youth justice and the whole system approach to offending is part of the strategic planning landscape including Community Planning, Children’s Service Planning and Community Justice.

246. Children and young people who present a high risk of offending and particularly those involved in serious and violent offending are often highly vulnerable, with complex needs. In many cases these children and young people have themselves been victims of crime, neglect and abuse. A co-ordinated approach which seeks to address welfare needs as well as their offending behaviour is crucial to reducing the risk of re-offending and improving outcomes.

Children’s Hearings

247. The children’s hearings system takes an integrated and holistic approach to care and justice in which the child’s best interests are the paramount consideration.  It is built upon the principles established by the Kilbrandon Report of 1964, which stated that children and young people who offend should be considered “children in need”, as much as those who require care and protection.  

248. The hearings system relies on many partners to deliver effective decision making for children and young people.  The two principal Public Bodies are the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration ( - responsible for the Children’s Reporter service and for convening children’s hearings, and Children’s Hearings Scotland ( - responsible for supporting the national children’s panel. 

249. The Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership (CHIP) was established in 2014 to deliver a focused improvement programme, prioritising initiatives that would benefit from multi-agency action to improve children’s experiences and outcomes. 

Community justice

250. The Community Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 which was implemented on 1 April 2017, established a new model for community justice services, with local delivery, partnerships and collaboration at their heart, and arrangements to provide national leadership and assurance.  

251. The Act places responsibility for local planning and monitoring of community justice services with a defined set of Community Justice Partners (including local authorities, health boards and others). These partners have a duty to collaborate in preparing a strategic plan, and are accountable for delivering it. The community justice services to be delivered under this plan will be mainly focused on adults, but there is likely to be an impact on children too, particularly where the recipient of a community justice service is a parent. 

Mental health advocacy

252. The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 provides every person with a mental disorder with a right to independent advocacy. For the purposes of this legislation, independent advocacy is advocacy provided by persons other than a local authority or health board responsible for providing services in the area where the patient is to receive care or treatment. 

253. The legislation places a duty on local authorities and the NHS to ensure that such independent advocacy services are available in their area. Guidance accompanying the legislation recommends that a “Strategic Advocacy Plan” be developed in each local area, based on information gathered from a needs assessment, scoping exercises and consultations. These plans should outline the development and investment in advocacy over a minimum three-year period. For further information, please refer to Independent Advocacy: Guide for Commissioners (2013).[36]

Realigning Children’s Services[37]

254. The Scottish Government aims to ensure that all parts of Scotland have the right services for children. Services geared towards prevention, early engagement, tailored to local needs, joined up and holistic. It aims to deliver this through supporting collaborative and evidence based planning and delivery.

255. The Realigning Children’s Services programme is run by the Scottish Government in partnership with Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). It seeks to improve outcomes for children by supporting local improvement in joint strategic commissioning, focusing on evidence collection and analysis, service mapping and strengthening partnership working across children’s services.

National Trauma Training Programme[38]

256. The Scottish Government have committed to developing an adversity and trauma-informed workforce across Scotland with the ambition to make a positive change in how people who have had adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and traumatic experiences in adulthood, are supported.

257. To support this, a National Trauma Training Programme, led by NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has been established and is consistent with the 2017 publication: ‘Transforming Psychological Trauma: A  Knowledge and Skills Framework for The Scottish Workforce’. This framework lays out the essential and core knowledge and skills needed by all tiers of the Scottish workforce to ensure that the needs of children and adults who are affected by trauma are recognised, understood and responded to in a way which recognises individual strengths, acknowledges rights and ensures timely access to effective care, support and interventions for those who need it.

Fairer Scotland Duty

258. The public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities is set out in legislation in section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, however it is known as the Fairer Scotland Duty. The duty came into force in Scotland from April 2018.  It places a legal responsibility on particular public bodies in Scotland to have due regard to how they can reduce inequalities of outcome caused by socio-economic disadvantage, when making strategic decisions. Local authorities and Health Boards are covered by the duty.

259. In deciding how to fulfil their obligations under the duty, public bodies must take into account any guidance issued by Scottish Ministers. 

260. Interim guidance for public bodies has been published by Scottish Ministers to assist with implementation. The guidance recommends public bodies actively consider how they could reduce inequalities of outcome in any major strategic decision they make and publish a written assessment showing how they have undertaken this. 

261. The duty is subject to a three year implementation phase and the Scottish Government, alongside the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will review how the duty is working in practice over this period. 


Email: cf&

Back to top