Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 11 March 2021

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 11 March 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Grace Vickers


  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Jennifer King, apologies from Douglas Hutchison
  • Care Inspectorate - Peter Macleod, Helen Happer
  • CELCIS, University of Strathclyde - Claire Burns
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) - Carol Wassell, apologies from Elliot Jackson
  • Children in Scotland - Jackie Brock  
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Sheila Gordon 
  • COSLA - Eddie Follan, Jillian Ingram
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group (DCYPAG) - Jim Carle 
  • Education Scotland - apologies from Laura-Ann Currie
  • The Promise - Thomas Carlton 
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde  - Jennifer Davidson
  • NHS Chief Executives - apologies from Angela Wallace 
  • NHS NES - Karen Wilson
  • Police Scotland - Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • SOLACE - apologies from Margo Williamson
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon
  • Scottish Social Services Council - apologies from Cheryl Glen
  • Scottish Youth Parliament - Liam Fowley

Scottish Government:

  • Michael Chalmers – Co-Chair
  • Iona Colvin
  • Ann Holmes
  • Wendy Mitchell
  • Kate Smith
  • Bill Scott-Watson
  • Mairi Macpherson
  • Byrony Revell
  • Diana Beveridge
  • Kieran McQuaid
  • Frank Martin
  • Jennifer Hamilton
  • Elaine Moir
  • Angelika Majdanik
  • Barry Stalker
  • Gita Sharkey
  • Kerry Twyman
  • Lindsay MacDougall
  • Carolyn Younie
  • Philip Whyte

Additional meeting participants:

  • Lesley Sheppard, Deputy Director Care Protection and Justice
  • Andrew Fraser, Social Justice Strategy Unit, Directorate for Housing and Social Justice
  • Dr. Katherine Trebeck, The Wellbeing Economy Alliance
  • Claire Stuart, The Promise
  • Clare Simpson, Chair of the CYPF Advisory Group

Leadership Group Secretariat:

  • Peter Donachie
  • Claire Scott
  • Chris Lindores

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (25 February 2021)

Grace Vickers welcomed members to the meeting.  There were no amendments to the note of the last meeting.  Michael Chalmers, Ann Holmes and Angela Wallace will continue to monitor and respond to any concerns over Health Visitor staff being redeployed in Health Boards to assist vaccinations work.


  • Michael Chalmers and Ann Holmes to provide update at next meeting

Child protection awareness campaign  

Lesley Sheppard, Alan Small and Sam McCluskey provided an update on the Child Protection Awareness Campaigns being run by Scottish Government, CPC Scotland and Police Scotland. Lesley said that work to develop the campaigns has been undertaken very quickly as part of the Leadership Group’s action plan. Scottish Government is re-running its CSEthesigns awareness raising campaign to raise awareness amongst those aged 11 to 17 and their parents/carers of what constitutes CSE and where they can go for advice and support if they have concerns. The objective is to reach a third of parents and carers in Scotland with 40% taking positive action as a result of the campaign. Read the news article.

Alan outlined CPC Scotland’s Keeping Kids Safe Online campaign running from 20-30 March and aimed at assisting parents and carers to take action to prevent CSE. CPC Scotland’s 30 Child Protection Committees will promote the campaign at local level. CPC Scotland will also be engaging with children and young people on the next phase of work on the campaign.

Sam McCluskey summarised Police Scotland’s Get Help or Get Caught campaign aimed at perpetrators. The campaign is due to begin on 29 March and run through April.  This will include messaging through STV video-on-demand. Police Scotland has also been using additional resources for enforcement work.  430 investigations are taking place. There have been 230 arrests and 370 children safe-guarded.

Members welcomed this highly important work and offered their support in promoting the campaigns. It would be helpful to have a covering email that members could use in highlighting the campaigns to their networks.  

There were queries on how best to assist parents and carers who are unfamiliar with setting parental controls and other aspects of ensuring safety online. This may be a particular issue for those who had been digitally excluded and had received devices as part of support for families during the pandemic. Alan noted that children and young people themselves could assist parents and carers in setting controls. Lesley added that the organisations supplying the devices should be giving associated advice on online safety.


  • covering email for the child protection awareness campaigns to be provided to members

Child poverty follow up discussion

Andrew Fraser provided a short reminder of the main points from his presentation on tackling child poverty given to the Group on 11 February. In particular, the need to focus on three key drivers: income from employment; costs of living; and income from social security and benefits in kind. Andrew also highlighted the Scottish Leaders Forum Action Group on Child Poverty’s review on Learning from Local Responses to Child Poverty During the COVID Crisis. Members were invited to consider the following discussion questions:

  • what learning has been identified through the COVID response which could aid recovery /renewal and help to tackle child poverty?
  • how can services be adapted to provide whole family support, enabling needs to be addressed holistically? What is already working well? 

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • temporary direct payments during the pandemic have been very welcome but they do not address the root causes of child poverty and may even have detracted some attention from tackling them. Andrew responded that, while the pandemic has necessitated a step change in the work originally envisaged, long term initiatives are continuing to be put in place. For example, the Scottish Child Payment started for eligible children under 6 in February. Organisations such as One Parent Family Scotland are also linking immediate advice and support to longer term issues
  • the pandemic has shown how quickly leaders and organisations can pivot to tackle an emergency situation. There is a leadership challenge in how to use this learning and experience to address the underlying causes of child poverty and other long established challenges
  • potential to make better use of universal services and existing relationships to ensure people are aware of and receive access to their entitlements. For example, work is taking place with health visitors and maternity services to help promote financial inclusion

Consultation will take place later in the year on the second Child Poverty Delivery Plan due to be published March 2022. Andrew offered to engage further with Leadership Group in developing the plan.  

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Presentation is extremely useful in outlining the macro policy and legislative approaches to tackling poverty. We can add value to our understanding by also considering the evidence that we have of the micro lived experiences. For example, in relation to the Scottish Welfare Fund it is noted that: “£57.5 million made available for the Scottish Welfare Fund to support awards to 31 March”. This can be read alongside the lived experience of accessing the SWF as reported by the SPSO in a recent review of a decision. ‘C requested an independent review of the council's decision on their crisis grant application. They applied for money for food, gas and electricity as they had recently given birth to a baby who was in a neonatal care unit for a period of eight days. As a result of this, C and their partner had to travel by taxi to the hospital as they were advised due to the pandemic not to use public transport. They also had to purchase food at the hospital, which was more expensive than supermarkets. The council declined the application on the basis that C had already received four awards in the last 12-month rolling period. They noted that there were no exceptional circumstances that would allow for an award to be made.’  

Members to email Andrew Fraser with any further comments:

Children’s Wellbeing Economy Budget    

Katherine Trebeck discussed the report on the Children’s Wellbeing Economy Budget to be published on Thursday 18 March. Katherine noted that the report complemented and reinforced work taking place on children’s rights. Given its limited scope and resources, Katherine hoped the report would open up a more comprehensive review of wellbeing budgets. The report emphasises the importance of creating the conditions for the youngest children to flourish from the outset. We cannot begin to improve wellbeing across society without doing this. Governments across the world are tackling this issue and, while none have been completely successful so far, the most effective approaches have the following elements:  

  • setting a high level mission or vision and clear outcomes
  • recognition that the economy is in service of wellbeing goals, not a goal in and of itself. In Martin Luther King’s phrase “budgets are moral documents with numbers attached.” 
  • a need to look upstream by addressing root causes of inequality; focusing on prevention; and tackling fundamental challenges including environmental issues – and ensuring that the whole budget process is subject to this agenda
  • making better use of comprehensive spending reviews and cross-Government working to achieve long term goals
  • wide and continued engagement including with children and young people

Katherine noted that Scotland already has some of these elements in place:

  • a rights-based approach
  • a focus on outcomes through the National Performance Framework and Child Poverty targets
  • relatively open and accessible ways of working compared with other administrations

However, more needs to be done to be successful. While the Scottish budget process is getting better: it does not hone in on root causes and long term change; it is not wholly coherent in terms of the mechanisms underpinning it and linking it to outcomes; and it does not encourage more joined up working and going beyond a service mindset.

Katherine suggested the following improvements:

  • be clearer about linking long term vision, goals and outcomes - including the National Performance Framework - to budget-setting processes
  • create a Wellbeing Distribution Map to analyse areas of need and better target support
  • greater emphasis on outcomes forecasts to improve cross-departmental working and a sustained focus on long term goals
  • more effective use of annual budgets to refine work towards achieving long term goals
  • greater participation and voice, including from children and young people, in the budget process which remains a relatively inaccessible area of government
  • invest in and build on the skills of civil servants to allow them to develop and analyse budgets
  • establish an independent commissioner on budgets based on, for example, the Welsh model

Claire Stuart highlighted the work that the Promise had undertaken in their Follow the Money report which set out the real costs of the care system in terms of its impact across education, health, justice and other sectors. Follow the Money had also shown that significant levels of funding are already being provided but they are not sufficiently aligned to needs or focused on prevention and early intervention. Claire posed four questions to Leadership Group:

  • what is your advice on priorities?
  • what is your advice on how we could help and work together to address the barriers faced? 
  • could the Collective Leadership Group be a forum for identifying and collectively confirming that this new way of working is progressing? 
  • could it also be a place that helps identify where levers can be pulled and influence is best exerted? 

The following points were made in discussion:

  • Midlothian Council approved its Route Map through and Out of the Crisis which is based on a wellbeing economy. This has been challenging but exciting and the first rung of the ladder towards achieving a wellbeing budget
  • Scottish Government is undertaking some collaborative work across Departments but there are barriers in terms of vertical budget lines and accountability processes. There also needs to be a strong political will to move to different ways of working across Government
  • there is a risk that approaches such as New Zealand’s Wellbeing Fund which involves a bidding process could inadvertently create new siloes rather than completely breaking down existing siloes across Government
  • Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Framework which informs five year development plans and annual budgets is a useful model to consider in focusing on joint working towards long-term goals and preventative spend
  • the OECD could also help to co-create new tools to support a children’s wellbeing economy budget
  • there is a need to achieve consensus on what we value and wish to support the most coming out of the pandemic and into recovery. Improving the confidence and situation of families suffering economic distress will be crucial. This includes greater efforts to provide well paid, well valued employment. We also need to ensure greater participation from the poorest and most disadvantaged. The Hard Edges Scotland report set out the multiple barriers these communities face
  • the implications and potential of wellbeing budgeting for local, partnership delivery of services need to be explored
  • the Children’s Commissioner in Scotland could have a role in monitoring work on a children’s wellbeing economy budget

Katherine suggested that funding from the National Investment Bank could help to support a children’s wellbeing economy. There are also potential opportunities to apply a capital investment model to early years funding. A conversation with business and the public needed to take place about raising taxes to provide additional resources for children’s wellbeing.

Grace Vickers and Michael Chalmers confirmed the Leadership Group’s continued involvement with work on the Children’s Wellbeing Economy Budget and funding the Promise.  

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

How you build in collaborative practice is one of the key drivers?

How can we be more specific about what early intervention and prevention looks like and is most effective - what might be common elements and what might be optional for local areas to meet local needs  - where are the leverage points and how do we support local areas to make this analysis to aid decision making?

Lack of implementation capacity holding us back even when we have the right ideas/intervention - we are often reluctant to pay for it.

What connections could be made between Wellbeing Budgeting/Economy and Community Wealth Building and the principle around redistribution of wealth?      


  • Grace Vickers, Michael Chalmers and Iona Colvin to discuss next steps with Jackie Brock

Review of progress on action plan

Iona Colvin provided an update on progress on the action plan.  Paper 24/1 had been provided to members and summarised key themes emerging across all the workstreams; achievements since last report to CLG and issues/barriers that have arisen.

Iona thanked Claire Burns and Diana Beveridge for their assistance in reviewing progress on the action plan.  A Learning Event is being planned for May to share key messages and examples of good practice from the action plan and winter support package.  The Learning Event would also consider the outcome of the deep dive work with local authorities on child protection and adult addiction and mental health services.  CLG and the Strategic Leads Network will be invited to participate in the Learning Event.

The Respite Care sub-group had raised issues for CLG on gathering data to provide better insight into the support currently being provided to disabled children and their families.  

Sheila Gordon queried whether the action plan could consider supporting children who have a parent in prison.    


  • members to contact Iona Colvin if they wish to assist planning for the learning event
  • Iona Colvin to provide update on the deep dive work to CLG in April
  • Iona Colvin to discuss with Grace Vickers and Alison Gordon
  • Iona Colvin to discuss options with Sheila Gordon

AOB and close    

There was no AOB.    

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