Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes -16 December 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (CLG) on 16 December 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Grace Vickers (Co-Chair), SOLACE

  • Jennifer King, ADES

  • Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate

  • Jonathan Hinds, (for Helen Happer) Care Inspectorate

  • Claire Burns, CELCIS

  • Jennifer Davidson, Inspiring Children’s Futures

  • Tam Baillie, (for Alan Small) CPCS

  • Neil Hunter, SCRA

  • Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland

  • Sheila Gordon, CCPS

  • Laura Caven, COSLA

  • Laura-Ann Currie, Education Scotland

  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA

  • Thomas Carlton, The Promise

  • Jayne Scaife, Scottish Ambulance Service

  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland

  • Samantha Faulds, Police Scotland

  • Sarah Gadsden, Improvement Service

  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council

  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland

  • Vivien Thomson, Social Work Scotland

Scottish Government attendees

  • Joanna MacDonald
  • Gavin Henderson
  • Phillip Gillespie
  • Bryony Revell
  • Laura Holton
  • Lindsay MacDougall
  • Sarah Bruce
  • Pamela Murray
  • Jane Moffat
  • Mairi Macpherson
  • Lesley Sheppard
  • Angela Latta
  • Maggie Fallon
  • Tom McNamara
  • Shona MacPherson
  • Phil Alcock
  • Fiona Clements

Items and actions

Update from Scottish Government on latest developments in the pandemic

Michael Chalmers welcomed members to the meeting and summarised the latest developments in the spread of the omicron variant and Scottish Government’s response. Key measures include speeding up the delivery of the booster vaccine and strengthening advice on the need to reduce social contacts.

Scottish Government is urgently reviewing and updating guidance for a range of services to take account of the latest situation and maintain the necessary support for children, young people and families. Scottish Government policy leads noted the following specific areas in which the guidance is being reviewed: Maternal, Infant and Child Health (including the delivery of Maternity and Neonatal Services through the pandemic and National Clinical Guidance for Community Child Health covering health visiting, Family Nurse Partnership and school nursing, Child Protection, Youth Justice and Children’s Hearings, Residential Childcare (also covering Secure Care), Social Work Practice and Third Sector Family Support Organisations. Guidance for soft play centres is currently part of broader guidance for safer business and workplaces. There is also work underway to update guidance for Early Learning and Childcare, school age childcare and childminding settings. 


  • secretariat and SG Child Protection Team provided links to updated guidance on 23 and 24 December, the latest guidance can be accessed on this link - Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance

Issues identified by members

Members raised the following issues in discussion:

  • there were concerns over redeployment of health visitors and other community health staff, child protection workers and other key staff from both universal and sector-specific children’s and family services
  • Michael Chalmers confirmed that, as in previous phases of the pandemic, Scottish Government guidance would emphasise that the wellbeing of children and young people must remain a priority and organisations, where at all possible, avoid redeployment of frontline staff involved in the care and protection of children
  • there was discussion and queries over the groups of staff covered by the guidance on exemptions from self-isolation and the flexibility of the arrangements, social work frontline and front facing workforce are included in the wider definition of health and social care referred to in the Winter Response – Self-isolation for Social Care Staff letter of 10 December
  • this will be made clear in the updating of guidance for children and family services, there are difficult decisions to be made in balancing public health and infection control with the need to sustain children and family services and the position will be kept under review
  • the need to ensure continuing access for staff to PPE lateral flow tests and other health protection supplies was emphasised, this will be crucial to maintain home visits and other child protection measures
  • individual risk assessments will be essential to facilitating access to health protection supplies and sustaining staff wellbeing and resilience
  • there were concerns over the backlogs in the Children’s Hearing System, CHS (Children’s Hearings Scotland), SCRA (Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration), Scottish Government and partners are working on a range of mitigation measures including the balance between face-to-face and virtual hearings, consideration will also be given to revisiting some aspects of the Coronavirus emergency legislation
  • there were also concerns over the use of restraint in residential care settings, CLG will discuss this further in the new year as more data and intelligence is gathered by members


Forward look and next steps

As a result of the issues identified by members, the Co-Chairs will provide a set of shared messages to senior leaders in health and other key services re-emphasising the need to prioritise the wellbeing of children and families in the latest phase of the pandemic, avoid the redeployment of frontline staff with a role in the protection of children where at all possible to minimise the potential impact on the identification of families in vulnerable situations and/or their access to support and promote collaborative decision making across the range of children’s and family services.

CLG’s next scheduled meeting is on Thursday 13 January. The planned agenda for the meeting will be reviewed in the light of the latest developments in the pandemic.


  • draft text to be provided to Co-Chairs by Bryony Revell and Secretariat (shared messages issued on 23 December)

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