Children's Services Research Independent Steering Group minutes: October 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the children's services research steering group on 4 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

In attendance 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
  • Leah Bromfield, Director, Australian Centre for Child Protection and Chair of Child Protection,  University of South Australia
  • 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
  • Professor Margaret O’Brien, Professor of Child and Family Policy, Social Research Institute (Thomas Coram Research Unit), University College London
  • John O’Dowd, Clinical Director, Glasgow City at National Health Service Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer (School of Health & Wellbeing), University of Glasgow
  • Claire Stuart, Head of Insights, The Promise Scotland
  • 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


  • Childrens Services Reform PMO


  • None

Items and actions

Welcome, introduction and apologies

The Chair opened the meeting and facilitated introduction.

No apologies were noted.

Helen Whincup noted she would be in attendance for the first 40 minutes of the meeting only. 

Chairs update 

The role of the Steering Group was discussed noting the research will inform the recommendations for Ministers when making the decision regarding the inclusion or not of Children’s Services in the National Care Service. 

The chair noted the research was starting from an open perspective with no assumptions that Children’s Services will be included in the National Care Service. 
The Steering Groups  will  ensure the independence of the research. 

The chair provided an overview of meetings with key stakeholders held to date.

Terms of Reference

The Steering Group noted and agreed the Terms of Reference.

Proposal and research timelines

An overview of the timeline and proposal was provided and discussed. 

Members noted and discussed the following

  • the research team will ensure that each strand  informs the next as far as possible, given the revised timelines
  • the importance of mapping geographic areas – to look at contextual and structural factors
  • structures of the research – in the methodology to consider the range of different arrangements for integration across Scotland
  • the importance of exploring understandings and definitions of integration internationally and nationally

Dates for Steering Group meetings

The Secretariat will liaise with CELCIS based on the research timelines and agree the most appropriate dates for the next meetings. 

Research issues and key milestones

The Steering Group discussed the substantive papers submitted by CELCIS.

Rapid evidence review protocol

Discussion around integration and what it means. 

  • suggestions on various ways to explore whether and how integration is defined internationally and nationally
  • consideration of documents which lay out key components of integration and delivery and possible questions for the surveys  
  • to pull out descriptions of different forms of integration as found in the literature
  • to consider integration literature in relation to other disciplines, for example the evaluation of Northumberland Integrated Trust and of the Scottish Police and Fire Reform
  • the ‘level’ of integration can be considered as a criterion for literature inclusion to reduce superfluous literature
  • sub-research questions – the scope of the review needs to be kept tight and focused on the main question
  • development of a proforma for data extraction, test papers to check useability and consistency
  • value in thinking about rapid evidence and deep dive in a similar way

Deep dive discussion

  • about the questions being asked within the deep dive and countries. Suggestion to examine the approaches to integration and delivery of children’s services taken in a range of high-income countries
  • about the need to look at areas already doing well, and possibly not so, well with some examples provided for follow up by the research team
  • about the importance of considering how children’s rights are valued in each chosen country

Methodology for the national scoping and mapping study 

Members discussed scoping and mapping the different models of integrated services delivering across Scotland.

Members noted possible areas for consideration:

  • look at nearest neighbour comparisons.
  • causality attribution – indicators should reflect each stage, examining the process of change and key drivers, recognising the limitations of attributing causation
  • inclusion of process and comparative indicators 
  • narrative analysis
  • linking statistical with qualitative statistical measures
  • consideration of triangulation with Care Inspectorate information
  • discussion about establishing the hierarchy of outcomes and indicators, which ones to prioritise and their value for the research question
  • discussion about the limitations of inferences that can be drawn from high or low figures for different indicators. Discussion about the role of process, governance and culture
  • logic modelling – to consider ultimate outcomes and to help interpret indicators

Further comments and suggestions are to be sent to CELCIS by the 11 October 2022.
CELCIS to arrange a follow up discussion with members with expertise on specific research methodologies. 

The developing approach to the workforce survey 

Possible areas to consider:

  • asking about the length of time since qualification and working in children services
  • discussion about who should be included in the survey, especially in relation to health
  • recognition of the role of locality as an influence on responses
  • health visitors, school nurses and clinicians – all first points of contact. The Steering Group suggested inclusion of all in the workforce survey
  • Consideration of potential learning from generic management literature and research. 

CELCIS will arrange follow up discussions with members to discuss further. 

Next meeting 

To be confirmed


Suggested links for further consideration of the Group

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