Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 7 April 2022

Minutes from meeting held on 7 April 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate 
  • Joanne McMeeking, CELCIS
  • Fiona Dyer, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice 
  • Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland
  • Alan Small, Children Protection Committees Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, SCRA 
  • Elliot Jackson, Children's Hearing Scotland
  • Martin Crewe, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland 
  • SallyAnn Kelly, Katy Martin (for agenda item on support for Ukrainian refugees), Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland 
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA
    Donna Milne, Directors of Public Health 
  • James Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group 
  • Sarah Gadsden, Improvement Service 
  • Claire McGuire, NHS NES
  • Gordon Pateron, NHS NES
  • Sam Fauld, Police Scotland
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland
  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council 
  • Michael Chalmers(co-chair), Scottish Government
  • Joanna MacDonald, Scottish Government
  • Gavin Henderson, Scottish Government
  • Phillip Gillespie, Scottish Government
  • Laura Holton, Scottish Government
  • Jane Moffat, Scottish Government
  • Bryony Revell, Scottish Government
  • Iona Colvin, Scottish Government (for agenda item on support for Ukrainian refugees) 

Additional attendees: 

  • agenda item 3 - use of restraint in residential care settings: Laura Steckly and Sarah Deeley, CELCIS
  • agenda item 4 - children's care and justice bill consultation: Brendan Rooney, Scottish Govenment
  • Peter Donachie, Secretariat
  • Holly Ferguson, Secretariat 

Items and actions

Welcome and notes of last meeting (3, 22 and 31 March 2022) 

Michael Chalmers welcomed members to the meeting with introductions from Dona Milne and Gordon Paterson who were attending their first CLG meeting. There were no amendments to the notes of the last meetings on 3, 22 and 31 March. The following actions are being taken forward:

  • whole family wellbeing funding – members to provide comments on draft position statement. The position statement was agreed by members. Jaime Neal circulated to members on 21 March spending proposals for 2022/23 for comment and further discussions are taking place with partners and Ministers
  • Joanna MacDonald to review references to children (Scotland) act 1995 in future guidance/ Scottish Government to discuss with stakeholder groups concerns over the extent of public disclosure of the personal details of some of the refugee children

These actions will be taken forward as part of the broader work taking place on support for Ukrainian refugees.

Support for Ukrainian refugees


Iona Colvin provided an update on the assistance being provided for Ukrainian refugees. Guidance is being published on public protection/safeguarding issues. This is being designed for use by practitioners across local authorities, health and the third sector. The guidance will be updated regularly as issues and queries arise and the specific needs of the refugees become clearer in the light of experience. Guidance is also being published on the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

The Gold, Silver and Bronze command framework is supporting hub areas and other partners including on safeguarding issues. Chief social work officers have also been meeting to discuss the support required. Helpful discussions have taken place with colleagues in the Irish Government on the lessons being learned in meeting the needs of particular groups of refugees including accompanied and unaccompanied children; and older people. 

Volunteer checks for public protection purposes are proving complicated in these early stages but essential as evidence is emerging of some potential attempts to exploit the refugees’ situation. Ongoing monitoring work will be necessary to tackle this including drawing on wider international experience through UNICEF and other agencies.  

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

  • a specific-session is being arranged for children's services planning strategic leads network to keep them sighted on developments and highlight any issues they want to flag. CSPP's will be key in supporting a joined up cross-sector local collaborative approach to supporting Ukrainian children/families
  • the CELCIS resource page; supporting child refugees and their families is now live. It includes, resources for those working with children and families and resources for everyone

Children's care and justice bill consultation 

Brendan Rooney provided an update on the Children’s Care and Justice Bill Consultation. The consultation was launched on 30 March and will run until 22 June. The main issues being covered include:

  • increasing maximum age of referral to the principal reporter to 18 and strengthening presumptions that children will be kept out of the criminal justice system
  • enhance children’s hearings system – considering whether it should be extended beyond a child’s 18th birthday
  • providing better information to victims through the children’s hearing system and extending their involvement in procedures
  • ensuring children who do go through the criminal justice system are treated in a trauma-informed way
  • improving arrangements and procedures for secure care and extending the availability of secure care to all children aged under 18
  • ending the placement of 16 and 17-year-olds in young offender institutions
  • additional safeguards in relation to cross-border placements
  • improved standards and procedures on the use of restraint in secure and residential care settings

An engagement plan is being developed to support the consultation and this will include further discussions with CLG members.

Additional points from MS Teams chat:

Use of physical restraint in residential care settings

Sarah Deeley and Laura Steckley provided a presentation on the work of SPRAG (Scottish Physical Restraint Action Group) regarding the use of physical restraint in residential care settings.

SPRAG has an open cross-sector membership promoting knowledge, inclusion and influence. Currently around 70 organisations are members including local authorities, third sector bodies, educational institutions, health and social care partnerships, the promise and the care inspectorate. SPRAG is seeking further ways to directly involve care-experienced young people in its work in a sensitive and creative manner that prevents the risk of re-traumatising those who have undergone physical restraint.

SPRAG’s vision is that:

  • we are committed to bringing about more effective, empathic, loving ways of holding children, young people and the adults who care for them in residential child care–in relationally rich environments, populated by adults who are properly equipped with requisite skills, knowledge and ways of being with children in the way that children need
  • we will work towards making coercive forms of holding less or even unnecessary and, when children are restrained, it is carried out relationally and with care

SPRAG’s current objectives include:

  • further alignment with work to keep the promise following the inclusion of commitments on the safe use of restraint and SPRAG’s role in helping to achieve this in the keeping the promise implementation plan
  • consideration of an updating to or replacement for the current holding safely guidance
  • continued learning and research work and other support for practitioners

Work to date includes developing a reflection and action learning programme; self-evaluation tools; and other resources for practitioners including blog posts; videos; and sessions at SIRCC (Scottish Institute for Residential Childcare) conferences. They have worked with the Care inspectorate to reduce unnecessary variation in definitions and reporting by providing nationally applicable definitions to improve understanding, consistency and reporting standards.

Members welcomed the presentation and suggested closer links with Police Scotland as part of cross-sectoral working. Greater promotion of SPRAG’s work to and the involvement of small providers would be helpful. Consideration of issues related to cross-border placements in the context of the children’s care and justice bill consultation would also be useful. 

Keeping the promise implementation plan 

Gavin Henderson summarised work on the Keeping The Promise Implementation PlanThe implementation plan had been published on 30 March and sets out Scottish Government commitments and actions to keep the promise. The implementation plan has two parts: the routemap setting out five principles to provide overall direction and guidance to the work taking place and the plan detailing the 80+ actions and commitments being taken forward.

The five principles are:

  • we will consistently embed the promise across all of our policy, legislation and funding interventions
  • we will build person centred services and continue to recognise that our care experienced children, young people and families are diverse and all have different needs
  • we will do more to hear the voices of our care experienced children, young people, adults and families, making sure they are at the heart of the work we do and the decisions we make, to keep the promise
  • we will work with everyone we need to in order to deliver change at national and local level
  • as we emerge from the pandemic, we will progress a step change in how we deliver the transformational change demanded by the promise, and is expected by our children, young people, adults and families

The actions and commitments in the plan are set out under the following themes reflecting the structure of the promise change programme:

  • keeping families together through whole family support and support for our care experienced children, young people and adults
  • a good childhood for our care experienced young people
  • creating the right scaffolding
  • building capacity

The action and commitments include reimagining Scotland’s approach to care. CLG previously received the draft vision and principles for this work. Further scoping work is taking place and CLG and other fora will be involved as this work progresses.

Gavin noted that, as a result of keeping the promise, the following outcomes can be achieved:

  • by keeping more families together, the number of children and young people on compulsory measures of supervision away from home could be reduced by 2030 – leading to significant reduction in care-experienced population over time
  • for those who need to be part of the care system, the system will gives them love, compassion and consistency. Children and their families will be supported in all cases through whole family support. The balance of our spend between prevention and chronic intervention switched. Families that need help get it early - before crisis point. therapeutic services are our first line of defence in protecting wellbeing
  • more kinship care, significant reduction in foster care, placement in children’s houses and secure estate. No under 18s in Polmont
  • reduction in care experienced-related poor outcomes including poverty, homelessness, substance misuse, poor health including mental health, offending, school exclusion, educational attainment and low employability

The promise Scotland will map the implementation plan against the actions in the care review; plan 21-24; and the change programme.

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • significant collective work will be needed to deliver the commitments to keep the promise including to achieve the ambition to significantly reduce the care-experienced population
  • CoSLA will be publishing a report on 8 April on the work that local authorities have been undertaking over the last two years to keep the promise
  • further work is needed on ensuring that the language and terminology reflects the aspirations of the promise more consistently and broadly. This includes moving away from “looked after children” to more positive terms

The Chair emphasised the continuing role of CLG in maintaining momentum on keeping the promise and this should remain a key priority for the group. 

Any other business (AOB) and close 

There was no AOB. CLG’s next meeting is on 12 May. A further update will be provided on support for Ukrainian refugees. Other items include children’s services planning – national report and sreamlining work.

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