Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 14 May 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 14 May 2020.

Attendees and apologies

Chair: Iona Colvin

Meeting participants:

  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) - Douglas Hutchison
  • Care Inspectorate - Peter Macleod
  • CELSIS, University of Strathclyde - Claire Burns
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) - Elliot Jackson
  • Children in Scotland - Jackie Brock
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small
  • Coalition of Care and support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Annie Gunner Logan
  • COSLA - Laura Caven (deputising for Eddie Follan)
  • Education Scotland - Gayle Gorman
  • Independent Care Review - Fiona Duncan
  • Inspiring Children’s Futures, University of Strathclyde - Jennifer Davidson
  • NHS - Cathie Cowan
  • Police Scotland - DCS Sam McCluskey
  • Public Health Scotland - Diane Stockton
  • Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) - Neil Hunter
  • Scottish Government - Bill Alexander, Children and Families Directorate, Laura Meikle, Learning Directorate, Wendy Mitchell, Directorate for Chief Nursing Officer (deputising for Ann Holmes)
  • SOLACE - Karen Reid, Grace Vickers
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon

Additional meeting participants joining from the SG:

  • Tamsyn Wilson, Children and Families Analytical Unit (SG) agenda item 4
  • Elspeth Hough and Laura Holton, Heads of Family Unit (SG) -  agenda item 5
  • Bill Scott-Watson, Deputy Director, Care, Protection and Justice Division
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Head of Child Protection
  • Felicity Sung, Children and Families lead on digital exclusion
  • Sara Dodds, Covid-19 Children and Families Leadership Group 


  • Kate Smith, SG Early Learning and Childcare Directorate
  • Phillip Gillespie, Scottish Social Services Council

Items and actions

Updates on actions from 7 May meeting  

Remit/proposal paper: 

  • a revised remit paper will be brought to the Leadership Group (LG) next week. The definition of ‘vulnerable’ children and young people is being reviewed
  • the SG Rights and Participation Team have contacted Fiona Duncan to discuss involvement of children and young people and plans will be further developed
  • Laura Meikle has replaced Sam Anson on the LG to facilitate linkages between the LG and Education Recovery Group, including the pastoral care workstream. There are two new LG members: Claire Burns (CELCIS) and Phillip Gillespie (SSSC)


  • Public Health Scotland have been liaising with SG colleagues re. health data. SCRA provided further data on referrals and CORRA provided information about financial support to families
  • COSLA finance team are collecting additional data on direct payments but there are limitations with how it can be broken down


  • all - send any further comments on the Proposal paper (01/01) by close of Monday 18 May to:
  • SG - to circulate revised draft definition of ‘vulnerable’ CYP for comment
  • Laura C/Eddie - to follow up with Bill A on direct payments and whether we can quantify support to families
  • Bill A – to have further discussion with Alison G re. transitions
  • Iona - to have further discussion with Karen about mobilisation plans

Data and narrative report - paper 02/01    

Bill A thanked the LG for contributions to the latest report and summarised the key findings. The opportunity to contribute to the evidence collated in the reports was welcomed by LG members and the importance of using the data to inform local and national action was discussed. 

  • the data will inform co-creating redesign of children’s services and ensuring families access the support they need
  • adult data available from this week will complement this report and help provide richer picture of the impact of C-19 on families
  • concern about risks of increased sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. The importance of connecting national helplines to local sources of support was emphasised
  • are important issues to be considered about children who are becoming looked after and are in care now, and their experiences of the quality of that care and challenges they’re facing, such as keeping in touch with family members
  • Children’s Hearings System has adapted to use digital tools and important to reflect on how that’s working given the significance of the decisions being taken
  • the importance of hearing people’s stories and experiences, as well as looking at data, was discussed. Although there are crucial concerns about increased stress and trauma, for some families pressures have eased and many families are demonstrating resilience in different ways
  • as well as highlighting the critical challenges, the report could also reflect the good practice that has evolved to support families to inform thinking on the way forward


  • Bill A – to update report with new data on poverty and insights from LG discussion, and send to the Deputy First Minister on 15th May
  • Neil and Elliot - to bring a paper to LG on how Children’s Hearing System currently operating

Research gaps - paper 02/02    

Tamsyn introduced her paper which summarises the evidence currently available of C-19 impacts on children, young people and families, and details the current research gaps. Key gaps noted in the paper are: BME families, families affected by disability, families with contact with the criminal justice system, young carers, issues of digital exclusion, bereavement, and views of older children (in particular, where they differ from the views of parents). 

Noted that very important to hear from children and young people themselves, so we’re not just hearing the views of ‘the system’. Other gaps highlighted included children and young people in secure care. 


  • all – email further comments on paper 02/02 to:
  • Tamsyn - to share details with LG of new evidence from a “Family Funds” survey

Family support - paper 02/03    

Laura and Elspeth thanked LG members for their written comments and for the meeting with 3rd sector reps on 13th May. They reflected on the crucial role of both universal and targeted support and central importance of relationships. They stated that family support actions are to be developed over the next fortnight and invited views of members on short, medium and longer term actions. Iona noted that role of LG is to make recommendations to Ministers building on the Independent Care Review (ICR) promise and learning from the ICR economic modelling. This opportunity was welcomed by LG members and key issues discussed. 

  • importance of building on evidence we already have of what good family support looks like and of incorporating work to enable rapid adaptations
  • requested that actions taken will avoid traditional commissioning approaches by statutory authorities and this an opportunity to develop new ways. Perth and Kinross LA have been looking at new models of commissioning and could potentially be a test area in the context of health and social care at a future point
  • C-19 crisis has exacerbated existing income inequalities, so crucial to think about family support in broader economic context (two key aspects: increase resources and reduce pressures for families)
  • need to connect actions on family support to issues of child protection (discussed below) and actions across broader system (e.g. ELC investment)
  • important also to think about very local context and how engage with voluntary and community sector


  • all – volunteers to work on development of family support actions and further comments on paper 02/02 to be emailed to:
  • Laura Caven – to take family support paper to COSLA CYP board on 22 May and to feedback to LG
  • Annie and Jackie – to work with SG on development of family support actions
  • Fiona – to share evidence review due to be published and to support development of actions on family support, to ensure they build on ICR learning and implementation plans

Child protection - paper 02/04    

Bill introduced paper and critical role of LG in influencing national and local action to help families currently in distress and children who are currently experiencing abuse and harm. Referrals are currently lower but increased demand expected, so key issue is how we prepare for this anticipated ‘surge’. Iona emphasised central importance of GIRFEC and join-up across different agencies in this new context. 

  • COGs have a key role as they have a statutory responsibility, so important to establish how they are hearing the voices of children and women, how they responding locally and how they feeding up to influence national action
  • suggested that further analysis would be helpful to understand who the children are who have ‘dropped off’ in referrals and where do we need be looking more closely? 
  • use of the term ‘surge’ was questioned and caution expressed that we don’t describe children and families in this way
  • evidence from other pandemics shows importance of supporting teachers and providing a clear process they can follow when they do have concerns about children
  • suggested that positive messaging in Scotland would be helpful to communicate the help available to children and families experiencing harm
  • Police Scotland have promoted positive messaging about accessing support. They key challenge is about ensuring they are reaching the right families
  • SG Child Protection Team are currently working with marketing colleagues to develop potential communications campaign and will link to existing resources (e.g. Parentline). It was noted that a UK NSPCC campaign had run but referral routes are different in Scotland


  • all – To email further comments on Paper 02/04 and use of the term ‘surge’ to:
  • Fiona – to link the ICR statistics lead with relevant SG lead to build on learning from ICR data and economic modelling 
  • Lindsay MacDougall – to  update LG re. plans for communications campaign plans

Next meeting 

Next meeting on 21 May at 14.00-16.00 via Zoom. Proposed agenda items:

  • Children’s Hearings System
  • family support update
  • child protection (including communications update)
  • updated LG proposal paper (including revised definition of vulnerable and plans for children and young people’s participation)
  • update on SG actions on child poverty

Issue of digital inclusion to be included in future meeting once an update available.  


  • SG – agenda and diary invite to be issued.
  • all – Email any comments and suggestions re. agenda items to:
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