Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 5 August 2021

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 5 August 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Chair - SOLACE - Grace Vickers
  • Care Inspectorate - Peter Macleod, Helen Happer
  • CELCIS, University of Strathclyde - Claire Burns, Fiona Dyer 
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Sheila Gordon 
  • COSLA - Eddie Follan
  • Education Scotland - Laura-Ann Currie
  • The Promise - Jackie Brock, Fiona Duncan
  • Police Scotland - Martin Maclean
  • ADES - Jennifer King 
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon 
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Laura Lamb
  • Scottish Youth Parliament - Liam Fowley 
  • Children in Scotland - Amy Woodhouse

Scottish Government:

  • Michael Chalmers
  • Iona Colvin
  • Joanna MaKenzie
  • Julie Humphreys
  • Sheree McAlpine
  • Bill Scott-Watson
  • Gavin Henderson
  • Wendy Mitchell
  • Donna Martin
  • Diana Beveridge 
  • Laura Holton
  • Bryony Revell
  • Jennifer Hamilton
  • Sarah Gledhill
  • Carolyn Wilson
  • Angela Davidson


  • Peter Donachie
  • Holly Ferguson

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (17 June 2021)

Grace Vickers welcomed members to the meeting and introduced Gavin Henderson who has taken over from Scott Bell in Scottish Government supporting The Promise. No amendments were made to the note of the last meeting on 17 June.          

Data trends update

Debby Wason provided an update on data trends during the pandemic. The main issues were as follow:

  • an average of 35 children have become looked after, per week during 2021. This is well below the average for previous years (73 per week)
  • infection rates and hospital admissions have been increasing amongst young people aged 16-25 but are now levelling off. There are also concerns over the risk of future rises in admissions for respiratory illnesses other than Covid-19
  • health visitors have been undertaking excellent work throughout the pandemic. The number of 27-30 month reviews completed this year are well on track compared with previous years.  Most reviews last year were conducted remotely
  • ASQ  (Age and Stage Questionnaire) results for assessing children’s developmental needs as part of the 27-30 month review are showing some increased concerns over language and communication development and personal and social interaction
  • there were increases in the number of children and young people waiting to be seen by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) during the last lockdown. This has improved a little but the numbers being seen within 18 weeks of referral do not seem to have changed
  • the largest increases in referrals are for those in the most deprived quartiles and more girls than boys are being referred

Members welcomed the clarity and focus of Debby’s presentation and agreed it is crucial to take early action to address the concerns highlighted. The following points were made in discussion:

  • the success of health visitor services is extremely encouraging. Consideration should be given to whether there are any lessons learned from this work that could assist CAMHS services.
  • a letter will be issued to Health Boards on the resumption of face-to-face services
  • ADES is working closely with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists to strengthen speech and language support services. There are opportunities to deliver greater support through Scottish Attainment Challenge work in nurseries and primary one classes
  • the work of the Family Support Delivery Group and Family Nurse Partnerships will also enhance the support available to children and families   
  • as part of the follow-up to the “Hidden Harms” work presented at previous meetings, a report focussing on the Under 5s is being prepared based on a survey of Health Boards

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Important to focus on intervention now - for example, additional investment in CAMHS to address waiting lists, implement CAMHS spec etc (additional £20M so far in 21/22); alongside important community wellbeing work for CYP to address upstream opportunities

On the CAMHS data think we need to be careful not to assume gender gap tells whole story as we know from previous RCS data that distress/trauma can be evidenced /shows in different ways for boys,

Appreciate there may be different presentations between boys and girls, but concerns about mental health of teenage girls have repeatedly arisen through other research we've considered here, so would urge that we do consider what we're doing to support teenage girls.

Would be helpful to look at trends in relation to requests for additional support in EY/Early Primary -we are seeing this locally and if a national trend we also need to think further re response.

Wellbeing outcomes framework for children, young people and families

Bill Scott-Watson, Jenny Hamilton and Bryony Revell provided an update on the latest work to develop a wellbeing outcomes framework. This set out the priorities for this year: producing a starter set of core wellbeing indicators; an approach to the ongoing participation of children and young people; and developing the routemap.

Work on the core indicators aim to agree a manageable number of indicators ranging from pre-birth to young adulthood and encompassing the three sides of the “My World” triangle (What I need from people who look after me; How I grow and develop; and My Wider World). The core indicators will be supported by deeper dive work on specific aspects of wellbeing such as child protection. A shortlife group will review the range of existing indicators and develop recommendations for the core indicator set. Crucially the core indicators are being developed for use at local level in children’s service planning as well as nationally. As part of this, joint work is taking place with the Improvement Service. Links will be made with The Promise data collaborative project to ensure complementary work and shared learning.

The wellbeing outcomes framework is based upon the priorities already identified by children and young people themselves including through the Scottish Youth Parliament’s manifesto; qualitative research with children and young people in vulnerable situations presented to Leadership Group; and Children’s Services Plans. The next steps on engagement include sense-checking the wellbeing outcomes and route-map on a “you said, we did” basis; and co-designing approaches to development, implementation and use. This will help to ensure that the framework will make a difference by improving decision-making and accountability. Further proposals on future participation work will be made to Leadership Group in January.     

The routemap aims to capture on one page the key high level priorities to improve outcomes. The routemap will help to better understand the contribution of different policies to wellbeing in a more holistic way than previously and support work on performance and governance. More detailed strategies for specific areas can cascade from and be linked to the routemap.  

Michael Chalmers added that he strongly supported this work as it will put Scotland in a better position to understand, explain and improve children and young people’s wellbeing.

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • the framework needs to have a clear role and influence in scrutinising strategy, performance and accountability
  • to help achieve this, it is important that the framework is linked to budgetary decisions and processes. There are significant concerns over the risk of disinvestment in children’s services and achieving the right balance in funding upstream early intervention and prevention work and downstream services.  The framework also needs to form part of work on wellbeing budgeting
  • further consideration should be given on how the framework can help in deciding priorities across sectors and services and the role of Leadership Group in this work
  • societal and environment priorities should be included in the routemap to a greater extent than in the current version
  • greater links should also be made to ASN frameworks

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Would like to see something about the understanding of the impact of trauma and trauma recovery, for example under youth justice could we say that the approach is trauma, informed, child centred and rights-based?

Keen to engage wider Local Government colleagues in these questions including elected members.
critical point that the CLG could lead on - what aspects of practice are feeding the system without value that we can give permissions to stop - local areas don't feel they have this permission but unless we do - we won’t build the capacity for change or improvement. It’s just layering on when there is no flex.    

There are connections in developing the Outcomes Framework and indicators and the work of FSDG - considering the extent to which there are different outcomes/indicators for children and young people, and those for families (parents/carers etc)     

The Promise Change Programme

Fiona Duncan provided a presentation on the Promise Scotland’s Change Programme ONE focusing on three aspects: 1) the development process for the Change Programme; 2) the analysis and assessment of progress across five priority areas (A Good Childhood, Whole Family Support, Supporting the Workforce, Planning; and Building Capacity); and 3) the role of The Promise Scotland itself.

Change Programme ONE builds on Plan 21-24 which was developed by mapping and sequencing the 80+ calls actions required in the promise, and through a wide-ranging consultation and engagement process across multi-agencies and sector actions to determine the outcomes that need to be achieved by 2024 to maintain progress and ensure the promise is kept in its entirety by 2030.  

The work done to devise Change Programme ONE included an analysis and assessment of progress to date across five priority areas. In many instances work is underway but not yet sufficient to meet the outcomes required by 2024. This creates the risks of implementation gaps. Rationalising the governance structures around the care system to ensure a clear system of accountability is a particular area of concern. The Leadership Group can help to improve progress in this area. Data mapping and intelligence needs to take greater account of children, young people and families’ experiences and outcomes.  The Promise Scotland team supported the work taking place on the wellbeing outcomes framework in helping to achieve this aim, and committed to continuing to work in partnership on this.  

In terms of the role and support that The Promise Scotland can provide to organisations to improve progress, Fiona highlighted how The Promise Scotland will facilitate communities of interest to share learning; improve joint working; and increase the pace of change. The feedback when developing Change Programme ONE identified that working with residential care providers on restraint, transitions and leaving care will be important areas of focus for communities of interest. The Promise Scotland has also established a design school to support care experienced children and young people’s participation in service redesign.    


  • the sub-group’s first report will be circulated to members

Fiona asked that the Leadership Group helps to improve progress on the actions within A Good Childhood priority area and providing greater direction and support to joint working across the care community.

The following points were made in discussion:

  • the Leadership Group can use its collective knowledge and influence to identify the reasons why work is falling short and promote the actions and collaborations required to achieve better results
  • the Workforce Development sub-group being co-chaired by CoSLA and Scottish Government will use the priorities and actions in The Promise Change Programme as a framework for its work.  This will help to increase progress and improve joint working
  • staff shortages, exhaustion and other resource pressures within social work services are significant barriers to progress. There needs to be a whole system response to help address this.  For example, the potential for a greater role for universal services in supporting The Promise Scotland
  • the current approach to commissioning can lead to competitive approaches between organisations creating a barrier to the collaborative work necessary to keep The Promise. However, positive work is being undertaken by local government and other partners to improve commissioning arrangements
  • CELSIS offered to support The Promise Scotland in its work in developing communities of practice

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

The intention is that priority activity identified by the Family Support Delivery Group will meet a lot of the commitments around whole family support. However a dedicated FSDG session is being held on 19 August to systematically work through the feedback in the Plan and make sure that we are doing everything required to address the challenges on Family Support. Beyond that we will continue to make sure that the FSDG work is aligned with the Promise Plan.

Update on summer offer for children and young people

Julie Humphreys gave a brief update on the Summer Offer for Children and Young People. Due to time constraints, the full presentation will be circulated to members after the meeting. Julie highlighted how the Summer Offer had been co-created with children, young people and families and built on existing services. There had been both a universal and targeted offer that had provided a wide variety and choice of activities and experiences. The programme had also provided a welcome economic boost for local communities. The programme had also delivered benefits for the workforce involved, for example, helping to re-energise youth worker staff. There were challenges in relation to the timescale for delivery and managing expectations and demands. However, overall feedback to date had been greatly positive. An evaluation will be undertaken with the report due towards the end of the year.       

AOB and close

There was no AOB. The next meeting will be on 9 September.

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