Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group minutes – 22 June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 22 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • SOLACE - Des Murray (Co-Chair)
  • Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network - Carrie Lindsay (Co-Chair)
  • ADES - Jennifer King
  • Care Inspectorate - Helen Happer
  • CELCIS - Claire Burns
  • Children and Young People's Centre for Justice - Fiona Dyer 
  • Inspiring Children's Futures - Jennifer King
  • Children in Scotland - Judith Turbyne
  • Child Protection Committees Scotland - Alan Small
  • Children’s Hearings Scotland - Elliot Jackson
  • Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) - Sheila Gordon
  • COSLA - Laura Caven, Jillian Gibson
  • Directors of Public Health - Lynne McNiven
  • Disabled Children and Young People Advisory Group - James Carle 
  • NHS NES - Karen Wilson
  • The Promise - Thomas Carlton
  • Public Health Scotland - Debby Wason
  • Social Work Scotland - Alison Gordon 
  • Scottish Social Services Council - Laura Lamb
  • Scottish Government - Joanna MacDonald, Phillip Gillespie, Laura Holton, Jane Moffat, Bryony Revell

Items and actions

Welcome and note of last meeting (12 May 2022)

Michael Chalmers welcomed Ms Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People; members of CLG and NCPLG (National Child Protection Leadership Group) to discuss the announcement of the National Care Service Bill and the issues for children’s services.

There were no amendments to the note of CLG’s last meeting on 12 May. The following actions are being taken forward:

Support for Ukrainian refugees - Scottish Government officials to discuss with Ukrainian Consulate whether there is a potential role for Scotland in supporting children in custody in Ukraine who are being put at risk because of the war. This action is in progress.

A Short-Life Working Group is being set up to provide recommendations on better supporting children and young people with parents/carers in prison. CLG members were invited to participate in the Group.

National Care Service/Reform of Children's Services

Ms Haughey made the following key points in her introduction to the session:

  • the National Care Service Bill was introduced to Parliament on Monday 20 June. The Bill provides for a power to transfer accountability for a range of services, including adult social care and social work services, to Scottish Ministers. The Bill creates a framework for the National Care Service but leaves space for more decisions to be made at later stages. It also provides flexibility for the service to develop and evolve over time
  • the National Care Service (NCS) will provide for consistency and improvement to be led at a national level, while ensuring provision of services are locally accountable and responsive to the needs of their communities
  • a National Social Work Agency will be established as part of the NCS. This will support and invest in the social work profession by providing national leadership, overseeing and supporting social work in education, workforce planning, training and development, and social work terms and conditions
  • a decision has not yet been taken on whether children’s services will be included in the NCS. The Bill includes an enabling power to allow for the transfer of children’s services into the NCS, if the decision is taken to do so at a later date
  • to build a strong evidence base to help make this decision, independent research is being commissioned to consider the current approaches to children’s services and the change the NCS will bring. An independent steering group will be established to oversee and guide the research. The group will be chaired by Professor Brigid Daniel. Both the steering group’s findings and the voice of lived experience will inform future decision-making regarding the positioning of children’s services
  • attendees welcomed the decision to undertake further research work and consultation before determining whether or not to include children’s services within the NCS. However, attendees raised significant issues and concerns. There is a lack of clarity over the range of children’s services being considered for inclusion. Anna Kynaston responded that the services within scope include children’s social work and related social care services; and community health services for children including health visitor services. Education based services including early learning and childcare are not within scope although there are clearly important links that need to be considered as part of the decision making process. The preparatory work will include the development of two scenairos – one covering children’s services within the NCS; the other with children’s services outwith the NCS and the associated interactions that will be needed. As well as providing a clear view of the options involved, this will mitigate the risk of “retro-fitting” children’s services to fit with the NCS 

There was dissatisfaction over the lack of engagement with CLG over the creation of the new research steering group and appointment of Brigid Daniel to lead this work. Attendees queried whether CLG will be invited to input on the Terms of Reference for the group. They emphasised that it is crucial the group does not duplicate the research and engagement activities undertaken by existing groups especially in relation to The Promise. Other existing work to include is the ASL Action Plan/Morgan Review recommendations related to improved integrated planning for children and young people with Additional Support Needs.

Paul Beaton responded that the research steering group will take account of existing research and engagement activities. It will be important for the group to maintain independence in its’ work but links will be made with CLG, NCPLG and other key groups. This will help to ensure that the research steering group’s work is in step with the planned activities of other groups. There was agreement that it is essential that those with lived experience do not have to repeat their evidence to different groups. Attendees also emphasised the need for the research to cover the broad and complex range of interactions between children’s services, education and health.

There was concern over the commissioning and employment aspects of the NCS Bill. The Bill included provisions regarding the potential transfer of local authority staff to the NCS that had not previously been announced and appeared to run contrary to previous statements. There were also concerns that the uncertainty over future arrangements risked reducing momentum in improving services and Keeping The Promise. There may also be an impact on staff motivation. Anna Kynaston responded that the NCS will not be operational until 2026 and there are clear commitments to supporting and improving existing services while developing the NCS.

There will be a strong emphasis on co-designing the NCS with, for example, an NCS Design School being established to enable those with lived experience to influence the nature and function of the NCS from the outset.

Attendees also discussed the implications for the Children’s Hearing System and other aspects of youth justice. In particular, there could be future changes in responsibilities for legal entities and this may have an impact on the Children’s Care and Justice Bill.

In summing up, Ms Haughey thanked attendees for the range of issues they had raised and provided reassurance that ongoing input and collaboration would take place with CLG and NCPLG. 

Any other business and close

CLG members were reminded to submit feedback on Whole Family Wellbeing Funding tranche 3 proposals before close on Friday 24 June.

CLG’s next meeting will be on 4 August. 

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