Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 31 March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 31 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Des Murray (Co-Chair), SOLACE      
  • Carrie Lindsay (CSPP SLN Co-Chair), CSP Strategic Leads Network     
  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate
  • Charlotte Wilson, Care Inspectorate
  • CELCIS, Claire Burns
  • Fiona Dyer, CYCJ
  • Jennifer Davidson, Inspiring Children’s Futures                  
  • Alan Small, Child Protection Committees Scotland   
  • Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland      
  • Jude Turbyne, Children In Scotland         
  • Laura Caven, COSLA        
  • Thomas Carlton, The Promise
  • Martin Maclean, Police Scotland      
  • Helen Etchells, SCRA
  • Lynne McNiven, Directors of Public Health  
  • Claire McGuire, NHS NES    
  • Jayne Scaife, Scottish Ambulance Service        
  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland        
  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council  
  • Jim Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group
  • SallyAnn Kelly (Aberlour), CCPS
  • Fiona Bennett (Barnardo’s), CCPS
  • Katy Martin (Quarriers), CCPS
  • Michael Chalmers (Co-Chair), Scottish Government   
  • Donald Henderson, Scottish Government   
  • Joanna MacDonald, Scottish Government   
  • Jenny Hamilton, Scottish Government   
  • Naomi Burns, Scottish Government   
  • Gordon Paterson, Scottish Government   
  • Peter Donachie, Secretariat 

  • Holly Ferguson, Secretariat

Items and actions


Michael Chalmers welcomed members to the second special briefing session for the Collective Leadership Group on the arrangements being made to support Ukrainian refugee children. Michael thanked members for their ongoing assistance for this work amidst the range of other pressures on services.

Update from Donald Henderson on Scottish Government work

Donald Henderson noted that the Minister for Children and Young People had issued a letter yesterday to Local Authority Chief Officers and Chief Social Work Officers on arrangements for supporting Ukrainian refugee children in Scotland. The letter sets out the position of the Ukrainian Embassy and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on behalf of the Ukrainian Government and the Scottish Government’s own position that measures to safeguard and care for the children in Scotland are temporary. The intention is for them to return to Ukraine whenever it is safe to do so. The Ukrainian Government has emphasised that there should be no intercountry adoption of any child who is a Ukrainian citizen during the period of martial law. The Scottish Government fully respects this position and has requested local authorities not to place any Ukrainian refugee children in their care for adoption.

The letter also highlighted Section 22 of The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 that places a legal duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area in need by providing a range and level of services appropriate to the children’s needs. Members suggested setting out more clearly the range of measures under the Act that can be used to support Ukrainian refugee children – Section 25 is used by local authorities to temporarily place looked after children with foster carers under voluntary agreements.

It is essential to ensure the appropriate and proportionate child protection and safeguarding arrangements are put in place. This needs to take account of the whole range of circumstances for refugee children as a result of the conflict – they may be in the care of distant adult relatives, friends, neighbours or unaccompanied. Significant work is also taking place to process disclosure checks for applicants who are hosting refugee children under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and other initiatives.

Joanna MacDonald added that the Social Work Convenors Group is meeting this afternoon and will discuss what additional support is required.

The Minister for Children and Young People is hosting a meeting with Third Sector representatives on Friday and this will help to enable arrangements to be further developed and refined. Scottish Government is also setting up a Third Sector Convening Group. Members were invited to contact Frank Martin for further information. 

Actions: Joanna MacDonald to review references to Act in future guidance.

Points raised by attendees/response

Members made the following main points in discussion:

  • need to ensure the rights of children are respected and early action taken to mitigate any risk of infringement
  • there were concerns over the extent of public disclosure of the personal details of some of the refugee children already in or coming to Scotland. Strengthened guidance on information disclosure should be widely distributed through and to organisations and networks including community level groups and volunteers. This should include highlighting potential risks to children’s rights and child protection arrangements when personal information is inappropriately released
  • there is an urgent need for Ukrainian language translators with the necessary skills and disclosure checks to work with children with very limited English language skills. Russian speaking translators are more widely available but additional numbers will be required with a need to take account of care and sensitivity issues. University Language Departments could be a useful source of support as staff will have standard codes of contact regarding young people
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group offered assistance through their network of organisations in supporting refugee children with disabilities

Additional points from MS Teams chat

CELSIS is launching a new resource page - ‘Supporting child refugees and their families’, bringing together advice, guidance, information and training to help people supporting children and families in a professional, voluntary or personal capacity, and across Europe.

There is a plethora of information available via Scottish Guardianship Service specifically for unaccompanied children.

Action: Scottish Government to discuss further with stakeholder groups

Action: Members to share information on translator services with Scottish Government

Action: Link to resources:

Next meeting

CLG’s next scheduled meeting is on Thursday 7 April and will include a further briefing session on support for Ukrainian refugees.

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