Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 3 February 2022

Note of the thirty-eighth meeting of the group on 3 February 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Des Murray (Co-Chair), SOLACE
  • Carrie Lindsay (CSPP SLN Co-Chair), Children’s Service Planning Strategic Leads Network 
  • Chris Lumb, Care Inspectorate   
  • Claire Burns, CELCIS       
  • Fiona Dyer, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice         
  • Jennifer Davidson, Inspiring Children’s Futures                   
  • Alan Small, Child Protection Committees Scotland   
  • Alan Small, SCRA 
  • Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland      
  • Sheila Gordon, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS)         
  • Rebekah Cameron-Berry, COSLA 
  • Laura Caven, COSLA 
  • Laura-Ann Currie, Education Scotland
  • Jackie Brock, The Promise
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland      
  • Sam Faulds, Police Scotland      
  • Claire McGuire, NHS NES    
  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland        
  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council  

Scottish Government      

  • Michael Chalmers (Co-Chair)
  • Joanna MacDonald
  • Phillip Gillespie
  • Laura Holton
  • Jane Moffat
  • Jennifer Hamilton
  • Bryony Revell
  • Angela Davidson
  • Liz Levy
  • Cara Cooper
  • Diana Beveridge
  • Carolyn Younie
  • Carolyn Wilson

Additional attendees (agenda item four - children’s wellbeing budgeting: work with Perth and Kinross)

  • Sophie Flemig (Cattanach)
  • Jimmy Paul (Wellbeing Economy Alliance)
  • Lisa Hough Stewart (Wellbeing Economy Alliance)


  • Peter Donachie
  • Lorraine Henderson

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (13 January 2022)

Des Murray welcomed members to the meeting and introduced Rebekah Cameron-Berry as a new member of COSLA’s Children and Young People team.

No amendments to the note of the last meeting on 13 January were made. The following actions have been taken forward:

  • Joanna MacDonald and Alan Small had a follow-up discussion on the timescales for implementing the national guidance on child protection
  • updated guidance has been issued on residential child care

Action: Coronavirus (COVID-19): residential and secure childcare 

Latest developments in the pandemic

Des Murray and Phillip Gillespie commented that, although there are still significant issues, there is an improving position in staff absence rates across local authorities. Sam Faulds reported a similar position for Police Scotland. Frontline services had been supported through the assistance of staff from other areas and these staff were now being released back to their core duties. Phillip Gillespie noted that there has been a rise in IRDs (Inter-Agency Referral Discussions).

Michael Chalmers highlighted the publication of the Scottish Government’s guidance on hybrid working. This will be followed later this month by a revised Strategic Framework which will set out an approach to managing the pandemic as COVID-19 becomes endemic. 

Members raised the following issues in response to the updates:

  • there needs to be careful planning and communication of measures to tackle the on-going impact of the pandemic. Although staff absence rates are decreasing, there is a significant risk that these will continue to exceed pre-pandemic rates over the medium and longer term particularly if new variants of the virus arise later in the year
  • there are concerns over a relative decline in booster vaccination rates for younger people and a need to ensure that continued access to vaccinations is made as easy as possible to help address this
  • hybrid working and other arrangements will mean that flexible and creative approaches need to be taken to provide services and support the workforce
  • there are concerns over the lack of eligibility of staff working in children’s social care services to the Workforce Wellbeing Fund launched this week and the previously announced pay uplift for social care staff

Action: Coronavirus (COVID-19): offices guidance

Action: announcement of Workforce Wellbeing Fund

CLG action plan  

Michael Chalmers noted the need for CLG to balance the flexibility to respond to immediate issues, such as addressing concerns over young people aged under-18 in custody, with medium and longer term strategic work. Michael suggested that CLG focus on the following priorities and a renewed emphasis on delivery:

  • oversight of CLG’s Sub-Groups on Family Support and Workforce Development
  • development of the Wellbeing Outcomes Framework and associated data sets
  • maintaining momentum on work to Keep The Promise
  • National Care Service. Ministers have yet to announce their decisions on the National Care Service but, as CLG has previously discussed, it is essential that links between children and family services, education, health, justice, and other services are maintained and promoted whatever configuration of the NCS results after the consultation

Members made the following suggestions:

  • indications to date are that progress in Keeping The Promise varies across the country. There needs to be a sustained focus on improving consistency. Members were encouraged to use social media and other communications channels to promote their organisations and networks’ contribution to Keeping The Promise
  • CLG’s work programme needs to make clearer links with the Child Poverty Delivery Plan and broader work to improve access to employability, benefits and reducing poverty.links to the COVID-19 Recovery Strategy and UNCRC implementation also need to be highlighted as underpinning themes for CLG’s work programme
  • the long term welfare and wellbeing of the workforce is a key issue. This could be the focus for a future CLG session e.g. sharing good practice and initiatives with established efficacy

The Co-Chairs agreed to include these suggestions in the action plan. CLG’s next meeting will include discussion of links to the COVID-19 Recovery Strategy and Child Poverty Action Plan as part of the session on the wellbeing outcomes framework. Plans will be developed for a future session on the welfare and wellbeing of the workforce. 

Additional points from MS Teams Chat:

  • on COVID-19 recovery, consider moving beyond recovery of services discussion to where we may need to target additional support to mitigate impacts the data is highlighting on child development as well as wider child and family wellbeing
  • how we build capacity for change is also critical if we want to realise the priorities. Part of workforce development considerations

Action: Phillip Gillespie/Secretariat to develop proposal for session on workforce welfare and wellbeing.

Young people aged under-18 in custody 

Joanna MacDonald provided an update from the latest meeting of the sub-group on 25 January. The Governor of Polmont YOI had attended and discussed the improvements that are being made.

The sub-group will provide a report and recommendations to CLG’s next meeting on 3 March. The recommendations will focus on the immediate issues for young people aged under-18 in custody and broader issues. The broader issues include:

  • lack of a consistent approach for advance notification to social care staff of dates for court appearances for young people in their care resulting in insufficient time for preparation and support work
  • developing greater awareness of and support for alternatives to remand and custody
  • strengthening the whole system approach to youth justice

The report and recommendations will align with work on embedding UNCRC and Keeping The Promise.

Children’s wellbeing budgeting: work with Perth and Kinross

Jimmy Paul and Lisa Hough Stewart (Wellbeing Economy Alliance) and Sophie Flemig (Cattanach) the work taking place in Perth and Kinross to use a wellbeing economy approach across their policies, services and budgets to improve children and young people’s wellbeing.

Jimmy Paul set out the context and drivers for the initiatives that the Wellbeing Economy Alliance is undertaking within Scotland and internationally. A central component is to meet five needs covering fairness; nature; participation; connection; and dignity. This provides strong and mutually beneficial links with UNCRC implementation; Keeping The Promise; the National Performance Framework and other key policies in Scotland.

Lisa Hough Stewart described the Policy Design pilots being carried out in four hubs in Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and California. Although the Scottish pilot is the only one focusing specifically on children and young people, information exchanges and learning is taking place across the hubs on the policy design work and other aspects of developing a wellbeing economy.

The pilot work in Scotland is taking place in the Letham area of Perth and Kinross. The initiative began in November 2021and will deliver:

  • a vision and wellbeing priorities determined by children and young people in Letham
  • policy priorities and delivery plans co-created through a Love Letham Commission involving children, young people and families in Letham with support from the local authority; NHS Tayside; and other partners including the Improvement Service and Glasgow University
  • learning from the process that can be applied across the local authority and elsewhere

Sophie Flemig noted that Cattanach is providing funding for the initiative. The initiative follows on from the report Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children’s Wellbeing which Cattanach jointly commissioned with Children in Scotland and Carnegie UK Trust. 

An issue raised in a recent workshop within Letham is that it is estimated around 70% of national government funding to Perth and Kinross is allocated through ring-fenced funding. This can reduce the discretion required to match funds to locally appropriate strategies. CLG was invited to consider how best to help create a discretionary space for grant allocation while maintaining accountability.

CLG members made the following comments in response to the presentation:

  • there are good opportunities for closer alignment with the work on Whole Family Wellbeing Funding and supporting local Children’s Services Planning Partnerships to develop their systems and approaches to family support. Ensuring the voice of children and families is part of the design is a core principle of this work
  • there is also the potential to develop useful links with The Promise’s pilot work with local authorities on HECM (Human and Economic Cost Modelling)
  • the initiative can provide helpful learning and practice for wider work on social justice, inclusion, equalities and wellbeing

Action: WEII Policy Design Guide

Action: Being Bold: Building Budgets for Children?s Wellbeing - Carnegie UK Trust

AOB and close

Jennifer Davidson provided an update on the Theory of Change for UNCRC Implementation following the joint workshop between CLG and the Strategic Implementation Board on 24 January. The Theory of Change is due to be finalised before the end of March and further subsequent work will focus on implementing the approach in practice.

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