Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes - 9 September 2021

Minutes for the meeting of the group on 9 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Grace Vickers (Co-Chair), SOLACE
  • Belinda McEwan, Care Inspectorate
  • Claire Burns, CELCIS
  • Jennifer Davidson, Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Fiona Dyer, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice
  • Alan Small, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Elliot Jackson, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA
  • SallyAnn Kelly, CCPS
  • Laura-Ann Currie, Education Scotland
  • Jackie Brock, The Promise
  • Thomas Carlton, The Promise
  • James Carle, Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group
  • Lisa Jane Naidoo, NHS SAS
  • Debby Wason, Public Health Scotland
  • Sam McCluskey, Police Scotland
  • Alison Gordon, Social Work Scotland
  • Laura Lamb, Scottish Social Services Council
  • Neil Hunter, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA)
  • Jude Turbyne, Children in Scotland
  • Amy Woodhouse, Children in Scotland

Scottish Government

  • Michael Chalmers (Co-Chair)
  • Bill Scott-Watson
  • Neil Hunter
  • Mairi Macpherson
  • Joanna Macdonald 
  • Gavin Henderson
  • James Simpson
  • Hugh McAloon
  • Laura Holton
  • Carolyn Younie
  • Carolyn Wilson
  • Angela Davidson
  • Julie Humphreys
  • Gillian Connelly 

Additional participants

  • Julie Humphreys, COP26 – Engagement work with Young People (agenda item 2)
  • Professor Colin McKay/Jackie McRae/Simon Webster, review of mental health law (agenda item 3)


  • Peter Donachie
  • Holly Ferguson

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (5 August 2021)

Grace Vickers welcomed members and introduced Jude Turbyne, the new Chief Executive for Children in Scotland, who is attending her first meeting of the Group. There were no amendments to the note of the previous meeting.

Update on review of ASN

Grace noted the significant progress being made across local authorities in gathering best practice through the ADES ASN network as part of their work in responding to the Review of Implementation of Additional Support for Learning (the Morgan Review). There were particularly good examples of joining up services. The results of this work will be shared with CLG before the end of the year. Amy Woodhouse highlighted the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion’s Vision Statement.

Action: secretariat to circulate short information update on the review.

COP26 – engagement work with children and young people

Julie Humphreys gave a presentation on Children and Young People work stream as part of the Scottish Government’s delivery of COP 26 which puts UNCRC at the heart of delivery. The First Minister has set the following objectives and outcomes for this work:

  • increasing climate action taken by children and young people in the run up to COP26, and during the summit through participation in COP26 associated events
  • empowering young people to act as climate change ambassadors, raising awareness of climate within their communities and encouraging behaviour change
  • ensuring a continuation of climate consciousness and action for young people, including engagement in decision making, as part of lasting COP legacy

This will enable children and young people to:

  • participate in action towards climate change and increase awareness of climate change as climate “ambassadors” with peers, in local communities and on the global stage
  • learn and develop skills as advocates for our climate ambitions, with opportunities to learn from experts and one another domestically and internationally
  • engage with peers across Scotland and internationally, developing networks and exploring opportunities for collective cooperation on climate action
  • engage with world leaders and decision-makers so that they have opportunities to make their voices heard on the actions that need to be taken now and as part of a lasting COP legacy

UNCRC principles will be fully integrated into delivery of the outcomes and objectives with inclusivity, equity, building capacity and skills and participation at the heart of the approach.

Key projects taking place include:

  • the Young Scot-led Scottish Youth Climate Programme: Climate Co-Design Group to work with SG on climate legacy for children and young people, a network of local champions across Scotland, climate emergency training and the Climate Youth Summit
  • the YOUNGO Conference of Youth (the official youth constituency of COP26 known as COY 16)
  • Glasgow Science Centre’s ‘Our World, Our Impact’ climate change engagement programme, which uses COP 26 as a springboard to inform, inspire and empower people to engage with climate science

Discussions are taking place with Ministers on a range of other initiatives and associated budgets and Julie will confirm details to members shortly.

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • the Group emphasised the importance of inclusivity and equality of access to the opportunities provided by COP26 including for those with additional support needs. Julie commented that Scottish Government is developing a strong digital offer to help make COP26 more accessible than previous COPs which had mainly been “in-person” events. Work with Youthlink and other partners will also help to broaden participation
  • COP26 offers the chance to create eye-catching examples of good practice and case studies of UNCRC in action. Julie agreed to consider this further: potential topics for case studies could range from engagement with global influencers and other advocacy work to a young person work-shadowing the First Minister
  • members offered to help disseminate information on how children and young people could participate in COP26. Julie agreed to provide further details to the Group on the opportunities available

Additional points from Microsoft Teams chat

The Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures in partnership with the Children's Commissioner will be hosting a workshop session with COY, hosted at the University of Strathclyde--and it will be online as well.

Useful to think about how the digital offer will be promoted and linking with services that could support engagement to be inclusive.

Action: Julie Humphreys to provide further information to members when details finalised. Julie can be contacted on:

Review of mental health law (paper 32/1)

Professor Colin McKay and Jackie McRae led a presentation and discussion on the Review of Mental Health Law. The Review aims to improve the rights and protections of persons with a mental disorder and remove barriers to those caring for their health and welfare. The Review is in part a 20 year check in on the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 Act to see how well it is working in practice. However, it is ranging much wider to examine how legislation can better reflect economic, social and cultural rights. Crucially, this includes the legal duties that need to be in place to secure the rights guaranteed by international treaties, including ‘the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.’ For children and young people, the legislation will need to be checked against the UNCRC. There are also strong links to The Promise and other areas of CLG’s remit.

Professor McKay emphasised that the children and young people affected by mental health law are not a separate group whose needs are different from others. At a time of crisis some may require a higher degree of specialist psychiatric input, but they have other educational, health and welfare needs which may be more important to resolving mental health issues than a short term admission to hospital

The emerging findings from the Review in relation to children and young people are that:

  • services are stretched or non-existent at all levels
  • this leads to ‘failure demand’, late interventions and cycling round system. Families reported difficulties in navigating the system and accessing whole family support
  • the legal and policy frameworks reflect professional and organisational silos rather than fully responding to the needs of children and young people
  • distinction between ‘mental disorder’ and other needs is arbitrary
  • accountability and access to justice are lacking
  • particular difficulties for those with autism, experience of trauma, complex histories

The following changes are being proposed:

  • focus on early intervention, not crisis response
  • human rights based approach
  • comprehensive and relationship-based response to needs, however complex
  • the system supports the child and family, not the child and family navigating the system
  • the judicial framework ensures rights are upheld in all settings, including non-consensual care, treatment interventions and rights to support

Professor McKay highlighted the need to consider a unified legal and judicial framework with responsibility for overseeing decisions on all aspects of the health, welfare and education needs for children and young people.

Members made the following points in discussion:

  • the Promise can be seen as setting the bar for ambition. We need to consider a similar holistic approach for other areas
  • important to ensure that children, young people and families have options for support and these are clearly explained and well understood
  • there needs to be a better approach to risk management as part of work in developing a more responsive legal and judicial framework
  • it is essential to take account of gender issues in how services are responding to the needs of children and young people. Particular concerns include suicide rates for young men within the justice system
  • the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Joint Delivery Board has a focus on early intervention and is promoting better joined up working across partners in providing services
  • the delivery of a trauma-informed training programme will help to improve support for children and young people with experience of trauma
  • COSLA offered to assist the Review Team in considering opportunities for joining up work at local authority level
  • the Review Team was invited to meet the Chair of the Hearings System Working Group facilitating a redesign of the Children’s Hearing System

The Review Team is continuing to map out its workstream for children and young people and the Chair invited them to attend a future meeting to discuss the support that CLG members can provide.

Additional points from Microsoft Teams chat

Has any consideration been given to further engagement or even co-working with lived experts to understand what the system feels like now, what are the interfaces with all the services on the journey (for them) and what a good system would feel like so that any change intention would match experience needs?

National Care Service consultation

Joanna MacDonald summarised the aims and issues raised in the National Care Service consultation and reminded members of the consultation questions relating to the inclusion of children’s services. The closing date for responses to the consultation has been extended until 2 November.

CLG’s next meeting on 7 October will be a “deep dive” session on the consultation. The Chair invited suggestions of areas to focus on at the meeting. Suggestions were as follow:

  • the meeting should not focus on the consultation questions but take a broader approach. This could include considering how best to define children’s services and assessing benefits and impacts in comparison to the vision for adult services presented in the Independent Review of Adult Social Care
  • there are links with areas covered in the draft revised remit for CLG itself including delivery of family support and workforce development
  • issues relating to child protection, and links with education and health services should be discussed

Michael Chalmers noted that work is underway on defining children’s services. The Co-Chairs and COSLA will have further discussions on preparations for the “deep dive” session.

Additional points from Microsoft Teams chat

The vision is important and part of that really has to address the kind of culture and values that should drive any organisation and the structure or processes . shape follows function and purpose. This invites all of us to reflect on that vision and our part in it.

Reflecting back on some of the findings from earlier work on integrating children's services in health and social care integration - shows many of the same questions arising

Also wishing to remind us of this work in 2014 by Alison Petch, still very relevant here.

AOB and close


Michael Chalmers noted that a Covid Recovery Plan is being prepared. The main themes and priorities are wellbeing of children and young people, financial security for low income families, and good, green jobs and fair work. These are framed by an overarching ambition to ensure public service recovery and renewal.

Michael also summarised the main announcements for Children, Young People and Families in the Programme for Government. This included a Whole Family Wellbeing Fund to help families overcome challenges before they reach crisis point. At least £500m will be invested in the Fund over the Parliamentary term with resources being shifted and re-purposed to support prevention and early intervention work. There is a commitment that, from 2030, at least 5% of all community-based health and social care spend in preventative whole family support measures to help Keep The Promise. There are also commitments on building a system of wraparound childcare, doubling the level of the Scottish Child Payment, and embedding UNCRC.

The Secretariat invited members to provide views on areas of potential collaboration with the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood. The six areas within the Centre’s report are: raising awareness of the impact of the early years, building a mentally healthier and more nurturing society, creating communities of support, strengthening the early years workforce, putting data to work for the early years, and supporting long-term and intergenerational change including creating a measurable child outcomes framework.

The Secretariat also asked members to provide comments on CLG’s draft remit including views on an on-going commitment to meeting virtually.

The following updates will be provided to members in correspondence – Workforce Development Sub-Group, and Review of the Frequency of Data and Evidence Reports. Alan Small raised queries over mitigating workforce shortages for social workers including bursaries. A response will be provided with the update.

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