Children's Services Research Independent Steering Group minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the children's services research steering group 28 March 2023

Attendees and apologies

Iattendance from the Children's Services Research Independent Steering Group

  • Professor Brigid Daniel, Research Steering Group Chair, Professor Emerita, Queen Margaret University
  • Dr Ruth Astbury, Lecturer and Programme Leader, School of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of Scotland
  • Lisa Buntin, Senior Lecturer, School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, Queens University Belfast
  • Professor Barbara Fawcett, Professor of Social Work and Policy Studies in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Ruth Jepson, Director of The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy, Edinburgh University
  • Barry McLeod, Programme Manager,  Public Service Improvement Framework
  • Professor Sandra Nutley, Professor Emeritus, School of Management, University of St Andrews
  • Allister Short, Service Director for Women's and Children's services within NHS Lothian
  • Helen Whincup, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stirling University

In attendance from Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS)

  • Dr Heather Ottaway, Principal Investigator
  • Carol Ann Anderson, Co-investigator - Data Analyst
  • Michael Anderson, Co-investigator - Data Lead
  • Dr Leanne McIver, Co-investigator - Research Associate
  • Dr Alex McTier, Co-investigator - Evidence and Evaluation Specialist
  • Dr Joanna Soraghan, Co-investigator - Data Analyst
  • Emma Young, Co-investigator - Research and Evaluation Associate
  • Robert Porter - Lead – Rapid evidence review (strand 1)
  • Michaela Manole - Co-investigator – Workforce survey (strand 4)
  • Nadine Fowler - Co-investigator  - Rapid evidence review (strand 1)
  • Susan Reid - Administrative support to research team
  • Jane Scott - Lead – strand 5 and co-investigator for rapid evidence review (strand 1)
  • Kate MacKinnon - Co-investigator – rapid evidence review (strand 1) and deep dive (strand 2)
  • Maria Flores-McGinty - Administrative support to research team


  • Childrens Services Reform PMO


  • Professor Leah Bromfield, Claire Stuart, Margaret O’Brien

Items and actions

Welcome, introduction and apologies

The Chair opened the meeting and facilitated introduction.

The Chair provided an update on meeting membership, noting Dr John O’Dowd has stepped down as a member of the Steering Group, but welcomed in his place Allister Short, Service Director for Women's and Children's services within NHS Lothian.

Apologies were noted from  Professor Leah Bromfield, Claire Stuart and Margaret O’Brien.

Chairs update 

The Chair provided an overview of meetings with key stakeholders held to date. Noting continued support from external stakeholders with the research.

Members approved minutes from the previous meeting on the 20 December 2022.

Members agreed to an additional steering group meeting in October to discuss the final report prior to submission.

Research issues, key milestones:

The Steering Group discussed the substantive papers submitted by CELCIS.

Strand One – Rapid Evidence Review Update

  • peer review articles identified
  • additional unique documents identified via grey literature source searches 
  • all documents have been reviewed and key data extracted
  • all key data has been coded into parents codes and sub codes
  • initial writing of findings are ongoing
  • the report and outline discussion on the definition of integration have been circulated with the steering group

Members provided feedback and discussed the following;

  • the importance of using  visuals in the report to help structure the presentation of the findings
  • ensure graphics are incorporated appropriately so as not to confuse findings

Strand Two - Deep Dive Update

  • case studies for Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Police Scotland have been effectively completed
  • Finland case study - draft prepared and shared with country experts
  • New Zealand case study work is in progress

Members provided feedback and discussed the following;

  • members discussed a number of possible themes relating to professional roles and organisational structures
  • careful use of language in final report to avoid ambiguity
  • the use of diagrams to highlight structures and systems in the final report to ensure results are easier to understand
  • consider how invested each country is; their vision - are they as invested in prevention strategies for children services
  • cost of reform – is there any detail on this
  • members approved the suggestion to add the Republic of Ireland as a sixth case study
  • members are comfortable with the resultant later completion of the Deep Dive Report. Delay of 4-5 weeks

Any additional written responses for strand two to be sent via email to the research team by 4 April 2023.

Strand 4 – Workforce Survey Update

  • the survey has been shared with the steering group members and comments have been incorporated to improve the focus and shorten the length of the survey
  • workforce experiences  post and pre covid have been included and  filters have been built in to include this feedback

No comment or concerns noted from members.

Strand 3 - National Scoping and Mapping Study Update

  • indicators have been finalised
  • analysis is at an advanced stage
  • research team are planning for communication of results
  • the report will provide an overview of the children’s data landscapes, including gaps, quality issues and areas for improvement
  • a description of the overall trend of each indicator over the available period will be provided

Members provided feedback and discussed the following;

  • a link to the spoken word and visual helpful to explain the results
  • balance in underclaiming and overclaiming in the final report. Ensure caveats are in place
  • data charts – need to ensure comparisons are appropriate
  • need to ensure distinction between deprivation and integration
  • trend lines – good visual for communication

Strand 5 Update – Focus groups and interviews with the workforce

Aim of discussion to look at whether there is broad agreement on the approach and draft proposal

Members noted the following;

  • co-terminosity is a factor to consider
  • there needs to be clarity about the definition of support staff who will be given the opportunity to respond
  • the team are considering including a diagram of the components of integration developed in the rapid evidence review   as a visual aid for discussion to identify priorities within components and any gaps
  • there was a discussion about the issues to be considered when undertaking online focus groups and how these will be addressed
  • members are content with the approach being take.

Any additional comments on proposal to be sent to CELCIS by the 4 April 2023.

No further business was noted.

Next meeting

13 June 2023

Suggested links, resources for further consideration by the Group

Atlas of Inequality

Income Inequality and Child Welfare Intervention in England and Wales




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