The last update to the group was a written paper dated 18 June. This covered a number of issues and since then, we have exchanged emails and again met virtually with most of you.
We are absolutely aware that written updates alone are no replacement for face-to-face or teleconferencing discussions and we are working towards having alternative ways of holding our virtual meetings. As you know, for this update paper we are setting out the agenda topics (covering points you have mentioned to us) with context, and we will follow this with a video/teleconference using Microsoft Teams to assist discussion and get further value from your input.
Thank you for completing the doodle poll with your availability. The most suitable date and time for our meeting is on Tuesday 6 October between 14:00 to 16:00. In advance of the meeting we will issue an agenda to allow us to manage proceedings. Please indicate, if possible, in advance if there are particular questions or items that you would like to speak to. Obviously on the day you can participate in the conversation as it progresses and something comes up you wish to discuss.
As we have said before, we appreciate feedback at any point about the usefulness of these meetings and structure and content of papers. If there are things that aren’t working well for you, please let us know and we will what we can to make improvements.
ERG member action: Before the meeting please, if there is any matters you would like to speak to, or if you cannot make the meeting but have comments, share these with Pam and Louise.
As advised by Louise in her email of 19 August we secured new dates within the parliamentary schedule to take forward the commencement of section 122 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. We are very pleased to inform you of the new timeline for laying the regulations and bring into force section 122 in full.
The Scottish Government is making provision to ensure access to children’s advocacy services for children and young people referred to Children’s Hearings by the Principal Reporter of the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration.
The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Commencement No. 10) Order 2020 introduces enabling powers in two phases - firstly it will allow the specific powers necessary to enable Ministers to make Regulations in support of establishing these services after 7 September 2020, and then to activate the duties which require the chairing member of the children’s panel to inform children of the availability of children’s advocacy services - coming into force on 21 November 2020. The Commencement Order was laid in Parliament on 19 August 2020.
The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Children’s Advocacy Services) Regulations 2020 have been developed further to section 122(4) of the 2011 Act. These regulations cover areas of grant-based arrangements between Scottish Ministers and providers of advocacy services including training, qualifications, fees, allowances and expenses. The regulations were laid in Parliament on 11 September, and if agreed by Parliament, will come into force on 21 November 2020.
During the passage of the Regulations, the Minister for Children and Young People will be expected to give evidence to the Education and Skills committee. Our anticipate date for this to happen is toward the end of October. As soon as we have the date confirmed we will let you know.
We hope you will all agree this is good news. We are thankful to you all for the work you have contributed to in getting the children’s hearings advocacy provision up and running in advance of the legislation coming in. You have all played a part in supporting the work which has gotten us to this stage and we thank you for this. The delay introducing these to parliament in the spring was regrettable, but understandable due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Children’s Hearings Recovery Plan
Please find attached a draft COVID-19 recovery plan for the children’s hearings system across 2020 and 2021. It has been developed by the weekly COVID-19 group on children’s hearings.
We are inviting quick initial views on this document by midday on Tuesday 6 October.
The intention is to then to improve the draft based on feedback, quickly adopt the recovery plan, and then move at pace to consider the innovation and improvement possibilities – with partners and service users.
This initial plan is designed for regular review and updating, so this will not be the final opportunity to make comments or suggestions.
Communications and engagement
Activity with Local Authorities, CoSLA and Social Work Scotland.
On 17 September 2020 “Guidance for Local Authorities” was issued to chief Social Work Officers, Directors of Education and Children and Families, Heads of Children’s Services and Children’s Services Strategic Leads Groups.
We attached the pdf document agreed by the ERG at, and following, the last meeting. I have attached it here for your information, as well as a note of the information sent to local authorities. You will see that all contact details have been included in the document which will assist the local partnership building and working between Providers and local authority staff. This will of course, build on the work you are already undertaking.
Update on children’s advocacy in the children’s hearings system
You will recall we wrote to you on 28 April to update you on progress being made with the implementation of the children’s advocacy in the children’s hearings system. We very much welcomed the feedback, comments and questions you raised with us. Progress has been continuing towards establishing these services and we hope we can address the points you raised with us in this communication. We would be grateful if you could please share this information with your staff.
Local partnership building:
- progress has continued over the summer, with advocacy provider organisations taking steps necessary to get themselves ready to start delivering children advocacy services for children’s hearings
- it has been reported that good conversations and relationship building between all the local partners (Local Authorities, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, Children’s Hearings Scotland, advocacy organisations etc.), and particularly local authorities children and families teams and the advocacy provider organisations, are developing well. These on the ground discussions are helping to smooth the pathways within the different local contexts, for the referral process and to setting clear protocols of where the provisions fits within any current existing provision to ensure children and young people simply know how they can get the help from the services they need. We understand in some areas there are complexities but have been really encouraged by the efforts made by you all to ensure this new provision can truly be an enhancement to current services and offer a greater range of support for children and young people. We appreciate the focus and time you have given to this
Guidance to support further understanding and delivery arrangements:
- this short guidance paper, developed in conjunction with the Members clarifies how the children’s advocacy in children’s hearings should be delivered. It provides information about; the provider organisations, under arrangement with Scottish Government to deliver these services in each local authority area; who these services are for; and how they should be communicated to children and young people.
Update on the timetable for bringing forward the legislation
- many of you have all played a part in supporting the work which has gotten us to this stage and we thank you for this. The delay introducing the regulations in draft to parliament in the spring was regrettable, but understandable due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are very pleased to inform you of the new timeline for laying the regulations and bring into force section 122 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 in full
- the Scottish Government is making provision to ensure access to children’s advocacy services for children and young people referred to Children’s Hearings by the Principal Reporter of the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)
- the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Commencement No. 10) Order 2020 introduces enabling powers in two phases - firstly it will allow the specific powers necessary to enable Ministers to make Regulations in support of establishing these services after 7 September 2020, and then to activate the duties which require the chairing member of the children’s panel to inform children of the availability of children’s advocacy services - coming into force on 21 November 2020. The Commencement Order was laid in Parliament on 19 August 2020
- the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Children’s Advocacy Services) Regulations 2020 have been developed further to section 122(4) of the 2011 Act. These regulations cover areas of grant-based arrangements between Scottish Ministers and providers of advocacy services including training, qualifications, fees, allowances and expenses. The draft regulations were laid in Parliament on 11 September, and if agreed by Parliament, will come into force on 21 November 2020. The U.K Government published draft regulations and accompanying impact assessments
- during the passage of the Regulations, the Minister for Children and Young People will be expected to give evidence to the Education and Skills committee
We hope you will all agree this is good news. We are thankful to you all for the work that has been contributed to in getting the children’s hearings advocacy provision up and running in advance of the legislation coming in.
We will keep you informed of progress and will continue to engage with members through the Expert Reference Group to work through any final preparations as we move closer towards full implementation. Currently we do not have a local authority representative on this group and this is something we would welcome. If you or a member of your team would have an interest in becoming a member to represent local authorities on this group, please let us know. We may not be able to accept all requests but it would be good to know if anyone would have an interest and capacity to be part of this group. We can then follow this up directly with any named individuals and explain a bit more about what this would involve.
I would also like to draw your attention to our ask of local authorities to let us know if they would like to field a LA representative to work alongside us in the ERG.
We also at the same time wrote to CoSLA and Social Work Scotland updating them on current progress and allowing them to see the information sent to local authorities.
Update from SCRA
Please see the attached update from our colleagues in SCRA. You will note that the detail about statistics and what data we can usefully gain in order to inform or way forward with this provision, is underway. An initial meeting has taken place to discuss availability of data and whether there is a need for specially commissioned datasets for us.
There is an agenda item on statistics to discuss this further at the meeting on Tuesday.
Update from CHS
Please see the attached update from our colleagues in CHS. You will wish to note the training for panel members is well underway.
National messaging for use in publicity materials
We have been asked about, and spoken before within the Communications and Engagement Sub-Group, about whether we can give guidance on generic messaging and use of Scottish Government branding that would help advocacy organisations to develop local level publicity materials e.g. leaflets, websites, posters etc. This will help ensure a consistent message is used and understood, leaving little chance for confusion and differences in interpretation.
The Scottish Government drafted a short guidance paper setting out our policy statement and high-level messaging for advocacy organisations and others to use in local level publicity material. This document was reviewed at the last ERG and is now in final form and is now attached.
Since our last meeting the leaflets for use to publicise the provision have been finalised and issued to you all. Thank you to everyone who proof- read, offered advice and made suggestions. These leaflets answer the call to have a nationally consistent publication which means that children and young people get the same information irrespective of where about in Scotland they live.
As I have advised a number of you Scottish Government do not intend to do a print run of these leaflets as you will know best what resource you need for each of your areas. The costs of printing can be reimbursed via grant claims.
Dedicated website for Children’s Hearings Advocacy
We now have the website dedicated to our provision set up.
The website should be operational from Monday 5th October. We would like to stress this is the first iteration of the website and we would invite comment or suggestions as to improvements that may be made. Thank you to the members of the National Provider Network who saw the website in development and provided invaluable feedback as to improvements that could be made at this stage. This feedback was incorporated into the website you will see by clicking on the link above. We think the website fulfils our aim of being child friendly, not text heavy and gives enough information through links to other websites to allow children and young people to make an informed choice about advocacy.
The website is not being “officially launched” at this stage as we are still in negotiations with Scottish Ministers and Scottish Government communications colleagues as to a suitable time to do this. At the moment we are considering this for the day the regulations come into effect (21 November if all goes through the Parliamentary process as we expect). The web link is however on the publicity leaflets you all have and can be promoted to children and young people who are looking for a bit more information about children’s advocacy in children’s hearings.
Communications and Engagement Strategy Document – tracking activity
Please see the attached communications and engagement strategy document. Please note the activities that have taken place, and the activities and opportunities in planning. We would ask you to consider if there is anything else that should be recorded in this.
Paper attached seperately– Children’s Hearings Advocacy Communications and Engagement Strategy
As with previous meetings, updates will be made to the Scottish Government website following the meeting. A summary of topics and actions arising from the meeting will also be published.
You will note there are a few communication and engagement activities being progressed.
ERG member action: invite you to - provide any updates on activity undertake that should be added to the Communications and Engagement Strategy and note Scottish Government will be updating its website information about the group and its work.
National Providers Network (NPN)
The National Providers Network have met frequently since it was set up. A Terms of Reference has been agreed. The Network has had three sub-groups taking forward various aspects of work – Information for young people; Reporting; and Terms of Reference.
An agenda item has been included for a verbal update from the Chair of the National Provider Network, Tracey McFall, Partners in Advocacy. There will be time for discussion of any points raised from the NPN during the meeting on Tuesday.
ERG action: invite: you to - note this brief update and the agenda item update from Tracey McFall as to NPN activities.
Continuing professional development and training
During August and September the mandated training for children’s advocacy workers has taken place. 79 advocacy worker staff attended the online training events delivered by Clan Childlaw. Pre-course materials were issued a week before the actual training session with a pleas to managers and staff to devote at least half a day to the materials. It was recognised that those who were familiar with the materials were able to contribute more at the actual online event. Feedback was gathered from attendees and we are in the throes of collating that and will use it as a starting point for looking at how we take forward training and continuous professional development.
There is an agenda item for the meeting on Tuesday where you can feed in your views, comments and thoughts on the way forward.
Now that the first tranche of the mandated training has taken place we feel it is now timely to convene a meeting of the Training and CPD sub-group.
We would like to discuss proposals on:
- what training new recruits will receive (what is turnover of advocacy workers? How many new recruits might be employed on an annual basis?
- continuing CPD – what are organisations doing about that?
- refresher training for all advocacy workers. Is annually too often? How, and by whom, should that be delivered?
ERG member action: we invite you to - note this update and plans under consideration for taking forward refresher training and planning for CPD and agree to the training and CPD sub-group convening to recommend the way forward for new recruits, CPD and refresher training and volunteer to become a member of the CPD sub-group if this is an area of particular interest for you.
Monitoring and reporting
The first quarterly grant monitoring reports were sent in to Scottish Government by advocacy provider organisations at the end of July. This gave us the first opportunity to gather evidence and intelligence on the progress of the services becoming established and provide any early insight into the practice taking place across Scotland. This was useful to further develop our work plans to ensure children’s advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System is understood and being delivered as consistently as possible. It goes without saying that of course this first quarter is not “typical” due to COVID-19’s impact, nonetheless we were provided with information Scotland-wide which is useful in starting to inform our way forward.
Scottish Government undertook to synthesise this information for the Expert Reference Group’s consideration for this meeting. The reports were good and most providers created the same headings using the information required in the grant offer letter as a starting point. We are keen to emphasise that reporting should be proportionate to what the provider is delivering. We do not need to have minute detail of every activity. Grouping outputs and outcomes under themes linked to the requirements of the grant offer will more than meet the need for reporting activity. We are very keen to make sure that reporting does not become an industry in itself detracting from the main work of the provision.
Scottish Government plans to meet providers individually once per year and that will also offer the opportunity for providers to highlight key learning for the year.
We know the National Provider Network are looking closely at this area and there is an agenda item given over to group discussion about what we monitor, measure and report on.
ERG member’s action: we invite you to - note this update in relation to Q1 reports; and the intention to meet annually with each provider to discuss implementation learning and any issues or barriers faced.
The Data Protection Impact Assessment, The Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Assessment and the Equality Impact Assessment for the children’s advocacy in the children’s hearings system were published on the Scottish Government website on Friday 11th September. These documents were developed in conjunction with the Expert Reference Group and will be reviewed on an annual basis.
- Children's Rights Wellbeing Impact Assessment
- Children's Hearings Data Protection Impact Assessment
- Children's Hearing's Equality Impact Assessment Results
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
- a Bill incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 1 September
- a £2 million programme will support the successful implementation of the Bill
What will the Bill do?
- it will be unlawful for public authorities, including the Scottish Ministers, to act incompatibly with the incorporated UNCRC requirements as set out in the Bill
- if they do, children, young people and their representatives will be able to use the courts to enforce their rights. It is intended that the ordinary rules about who can bring cases in court would apply to claims brought under the Bill. The intention is that legal aid will be available in the normal way
- the Bill will ensure that public authorities take proactive steps to ensure compliance with children’s rights in their decision making and service delivery
- this will build on existing structures which enable children and young people to be heard and take an active role in their own lives and communities
- the Bill will require that Ministers publish a Children’s Rights Scheme setting out the arrangements the Government has in place, or intends to put in place, to fulfil the duty to act compatibly with the incorporated UNCRC rights and obligations
- the Government and public authorities will also be required to report on steps they have taken to be compatible with the incorporated UNCRC rights and obligations
- the Bill contains specific measures to remove barriers that children and young people may face in realising their rights under the Bill and accessing justice
- these provisions include giving the Children and Young People’s Commissioner in Scotland the power to raise claims in the public interest
- the Equalities and Human Rights Committee opened its call for views on the Bill. Written views can be submitted to the Committee by 5.00 pm on Friday 16 October 2020
- if an organisation would like more information about what the Bill does or would like to speak to the Bill Team they can get in touch by email.
The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice has published its updated youth justice practice guidance for 2020
‘A Guide to Youth Justice: policy, practice and legislation’ is aimed at practitioners and managers who work with children and young people who offend or who are at risk of offending. It is also useful for academics, educators and anyone else with an interest in youth and criminal justice.
Fourteen sections cover a wide variety of themes, including children’s rights; early and effective intervention; risk management; mental health; and speech and language communication needs. For 2020, three new sections have been added on diversity; restorative justice; and adversity and trauma.
In addition to sharing contextual learning, information on legislation, policies and processes, and drawing on evidence and literature to support this, each section of the guide identifies the practical applications of knowledge to practice.
The guide is renewed every year to ensure the information we are providing is relevant, meaningful and accurate. This is particularly important as the Scottish Government keeps its commitment to incorporating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law by 2021, and develops its Vision and Action Plan for Youth Justice.
Back to School- a digital child protection campaign
As pandemic restrictions continue to affect all children and families across the country, a new Scotland-wide multi-agency digital child protection campaign launched on Thursday 17 September at 1000.
This digital campaign has been developed by Child Protection Committees Scotland in conjunction with Barnardo’s Scotland, NSPPC Scotland and Police Scotland.
As Scotland’s children settle back into the school routine and slowly begin to return to clubs and out-of-school activities, the month-long campaign aims to raise awareness that while lockdown and the pandemic has been hard going for many families and children, it’s been a lot more challenging for some families than others. Families who were struggling to cope before the pandemic may have been pushed to crisis point during lockdown, and even the most settled families will have faced new challenges during this time.
Some children and young people may have experienced trauma for the first time, and some may have experienced neglect and abuse.
This new campaign urges everyone to be alert to signs that all is not well for some children, and to take action if they’re worried that something is wrong.
Built around the message that it’s always better to say something than do nothing, the ad campaign features three digital “adverts” posted across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and points to a new campaign webpage.
You can also see the digital adverts on the new Child Protection Scotland YouTube channel.
The campaign partners hope that you will support the campaign by sharing links to the YouTube campaign page and the Child Protection Scotland campaign webpage. We have also attached stills, campaign key messages and its hashtag, below, all of which can be posted on your own social media platforms alongside the links.
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