The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, placed a requirement on local authorities and health boards to present evidence to the Scottish Government in a Children's Services Plan which clearly sets out and demonstrates the actions planned, taken and delivered to improve outcomes for children and young people in their area. The first statutory Children Service's Plans were submitted to the Scottish Government in March 2017.
To assist local authorities in developing their Plans, statutory guidance was issued by Scottish Ministers under section 15 of the Act. It provides local authorities and health boards, working in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, with information and advice about how they should exercise the functions conferred by Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Act.
An earlier consultation carried out by the Scottish Government in 2016 showed that, on the whole, the statutory guidance was well received, was clear and was seen as appropriate in its approach. There were some concerns among respondents about how it would work in practice, including capacity of partners to deliver and others stressed that it would be challenging but essential to engage with children and young people in developing Plans.
In advance of the next reporting cycle, and to support the programme of strategic engagement with local Children's Services Partners, the Scottish Government ran a second formal consultation to test whether the content, scope and format of the statutory guidance was still helpful, fit for purpose or whether it should be modified, amended or improved to further enhance and build on the support available. The consultation opened on 25 March 2019 and closed on 17 June 2019.
A total of five substantive questions were asked. Three contained both a closed response component and an open-ended field to allow respondents to elaborate on their response. One invited closed responses only, and the other invited only qualitative comments.
A total of 48 responses were received (46 from organisations and two from individuals).
A good mix of organisation 'types' contributed, with responses from local authorities and their affiliates (14), children and young people's support organisations (12), NHS and Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) (6), third sector support organisations (6) and additional support needs providers (2), among others.
No campaign responses were received, and only a small number of respondents provided near identical responses. As they came from different contributors, all were counted as separate, legitimate responses.
Approach to Analysis
Most responses (n=41; 85%) were submitted directly via Citizen Space, the Scottish Government's online consultation portal. The remaining seven responses were submitted directly to the Scottish Government by email.
All who contributed written responses were asked to submit a Respondent Information Form (RIF) alongside their consultation response, indicating if they were willing for their response to be published (or not). Just over half of respondents (n=26; 54%) indicated that they were content for their response to be published alongside their name. A large proportion (n=19; 40%) were content for their response to be published without their name and the remainder (n=3; 6%) indicated that they did not wish their response to be published.
All responses were read and logged into a database, and all were screened to ensure that they were appropriate/valid. None were removed for analysis purposes. Although some responses to individual questions did not directly address the questions being asked, all feedback was analysed and is presented under the appropriate sections below.
Closed question responses were quantified and the number of respondents who offered supportive/unsupportive answers to each question is reported below. The percentage of respondents who said 'yes' or 'no' and who provided 'no response' to each question is also shown. As percentages relate to small raw numbers of respondents, these should be interpreted with caution.
Comments given at each open question were examined and, where questions elicited a positive or negative response, they were categorised as such. The main reasons presented by respondents both for and against the content included in the consultation were reviewed, alongside specific examples or explanations, alternative suggestions, caveats to support and other related comments. Verbatim quotes were extracted in some cases to highlight the main themes that emerged. Only extracts where the respondent indicated that they were content for their response to be published were used and a decision was made to anonymise all responses as part of the reporting process.
Report Presentation and Research Caveats
Findings are presented as they relate to each question in the consultation in turn. Where people provided no response, this is noted separately from cases where respondents indicated that they had no further comments or were unsure.
The tables below show the difference in views expressed by the respondent group as a whole. Where there was a difference in view expressed by respondent type (e.g. individuals, organisations or specific 'types' of organisations), this is picked up narratively in the report. As a guide, where reference is made in the report to 'few' respondents, this relates to three or fewer respondents. The term 'several' refers to more than three, but typically less than ten. Any views expressed by large numbers of respondents (i.e. ten or more) are highlighted throughout.
Finally, although a large number of responses were received overall, it is worth stressing that the views presented here should not be taken as representative of the wide range of stakeholders invited to respond to this consultation, nor should they be generalised too broadly. They simply reflect the views of those individuals and organisations who chose to respond. The analysis of responses was also carried out independently and the report presents the analytical conclusions reached by the independent research team. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the Scottish Government or Scottish ministers.