Family Support Advisory Group minutes: November 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 24 November 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Jane Moffat, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Care Experience and Whole Family Wellbeing Division


  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA
  • Beckie Lang, Homestart
  • Maureen McAteer, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland
  • Chloe Riddell, The Promise
  • Pamela Smith, Public Health Scotland
  • Fiona Steel, Children’s Sector Strategic Forum
  • Simon Webster, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland
  • Scottish Government Whole Family Wellbeing Programme Team [heading 5?]
  • Sarah Bruce, Secretariat
  • Jaime Neal
  • Joanna Macdonald, Scottish Government Deputy Social Work Advisor
  • Bryony Revell, Scottish Government, Strategy, Workforce and Keeping the Promise
  • Gavin Russell
  • Sarah Waldron


  • Mary Glasgow, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland
  • Laura Holton, Scottish Government Whole Family Wellbeing Programme
  • David MacKay, Children in Scotland
  • Claire Sweeney, The Promise
  • Grace Vickers, SOLACE

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions 

Jane welcomed everyone to the meeting and shared the apologies provided. Jane welcomed those members who were attending their first Family Support Advisory Group meeting, including Chloe Riddell from the Promise, Pamela Smith from Public Health Scotland and Simon Webster from the Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland.

Jane reflected that there had been some time since the last meeting, which was in line with our agreed approach to only come together when we had substantial items to discuss.

Whole Family Wellbeing Funding programme – 2023 to 2024 and beyond 

Jane introduced the item, which reflected on the learning and emerging evidence being gathered through the Whole Family Wellbeing programme from our evaluation and engagement with partners. The complex nature of this work meant there was a lot of rich learning to draw on and it was essential to consider this in the context of how we move forward.

Sarah Bruce shared slides (see below) which discussed the current context of the funding and timescales, the emerging evidence and challenges being raised, and the impact this is having on the programme going forward. Sarah asked the group for feedback on whether a longer-term approach would help deliver outcomes and for thoughts and suggestions on what additional support would aid partners in delivering the ambitions of the Whole Family Wellbeing funding.

The group made the following reflections

  • extending the timeframe would help with scaling up support and ensuring resource is being fed through to different providers
  • data has been a challenge and there is a need to connect work across different strands to avoid siloed approaches, including three year planning cycles and work to tackle child poverty
  • Public Health Scotland is connected to work on a Child Poverty Toolkit, we need to ensure connections are made here
  • funding needs to be consistent over time and commitments clear
  • cannot rush into making changes without consulting with the children and families these changes affect


Scottish Government to follow-up with Pamela on Child Poverty Toolkit.

Third sector engagement and capacity – update on Third Sector Group 

Jane introduced the item regarding the work of the short life working group that had been considering third sector engagement and collaboration in the implementation of the whole family wellbeing funding at local level. Jane thanked members of the Family Support Advisory Group (Ann, Fiona, Maureen and Simon) for their participation in the group.

Jaime then reflected on the background of this work, including the emerging findings and recommendations from the Supporting the Third Sector Project on how to support better collaboration between public sector partners and the third sector in the decision-making, design and uses of the whole family wellbeing funding (and within children’s services planning more generally). The paper (see below) provided the background and aims of this work, which includes helping to raise awareness of challenges and to reflect expectations around engaging the third sector as a partner in this work.

Jane reflected that she was keen to ensure the third sector voice was at the centre of this work as it moves forward.

Commissioning and procurement proposal from Scotland Excel 

Jane introduced Sarah Waldron who had been working closely with Scotland Excel on a proposal to support the commissioning and procurement workstream. Sarah explained that the proposal which draws on the work of the previous short life working group, recognises the specific need for a resource to support this work, and is focussed on minimising the barriers to commissioning and procurement, and identifying new ways of working.

Comments from the group included

  • queries around why Scotland Excel was selected for this work as their expertise is in procurement.
  • Sarah explained that they held procurement expertise in relation to local authority procurement
  • the proposal was not to follow a specific Scotland Excel model, or use them for procuring holistic family support services, but about drawing on their expertise and exploring areas of challenge and improvement
  • whilst support is welcome, the complexity of this work should be noted and the importance of trust and relationship building.
  • time is often a challenge


  • Sarah W to have a follow-up conversation with Fiona Steel, Maureen McAteer and Simon Webster.
  • Comments were due by 1st December

Any other business 

Sarah Waldron raised two items of other business for the group’s awareness

  • the Scottish Government was keen to have members of the Family Support Advisory Group attend an upcoming leadership session on 14 December and would be particularly keen on members’ input
  • the Scottish Government was working on finalising the Year 1 whole family wellbeing funding evaluation report from the consultants IFF. A Learning into Action Network session was also planned for 16 January to reflect on the findings. IFF have been recruited to deliver the whole family wellbeing funding Year 2 evaluation.

Date of next meeting 

Jane explained that in line with our new approach, the Scottish Government would be back in touch about the timing of the next meeting.

Slides presented 

Slide 1

Future of the Whole Family Wellbeing Funding programme – the current context 

  • timeframe to the end of Parliament
  • transformational change programme
  • Programme for Government 2023 to 2024 commitment to investment approach
  • iterative learning and evaluation

The emerging picture 

  • feedback that transformational change takes time and needs dedicated support
  • challenges around data, commissioning and procurement, third sector collaboration, recruitment, involvement of children and families, time-limited nature of funding, complexity of landscape, embedding change

What action could we take? 

  • extend the timeframe for delivery beyond 2025 to 2026
  • extend the annual funding to Children’s Services Planning Partnerships
  • build on our national support offer for transformational support to local areas
  • build on our collective leadership support offer

Questions and points for discussion 

  • are these working assumptions right?
  • will a longer approach help deliver outcomes?
  • what are your thoughts on additional support?
  • what handling considerations do we need to consider?
  • what should our priorities be for next steps?

Whole Family Wellbeing Funding – Supporting third sector collaboration 


£32 million of Whole Family Wellbeing Funding has been provided to Scotland’s Childrens Service Planning Partnerships to build local capacity for transformational whole system change. This aims to scale up and drive the delivery of holistic whole family support across each Partnership.

There is an expectation that the allocation and intended uses of the whole family wellbeing funding would be discussed and agreed locally. To that end, the Scottish Government produced, in collaboration with a range of statutory and third sector stakeholders, a toolkit for use by the local Children’s Services Planning Partnerships governance to support consistent and structured strategic planning discussions on utilisation of the whole family wellbeing funding, and local design and delivery of holistic whole family support – as a core part of each area's Children's Services Plan.

Collaboration and engagement with third sector organisations is an essential part of duties and tasks over each three year children’s services planning cycle. The third sector’s participation is key to the development, delivery and reporting on how each area’s Children’s Services Plan is resulting in improved outcomes for children, young people and families living in that area. This is made clear in Part Three statutory guidance of the Children and Young People Scotland Act 2014 which says

“A local authority and the relevant health board should, therefore, make all reasonable efforts to facilitate the participation and/or contribution of a broad range of third sector organisations in the children’s services planning process, providing different types of opportunities (through which to participate or contribute) and, where appropriate, support to enable them to do so.”

Recognising the statutory aims of children’s services planning include a requirement to ensure best value in use of local resources (workforce, budgets and assets) with the Children’s Services Plan driving the local strategic commissioning process, the Scottish Government has been explicit that this applies to the whole family wellbeing funding.

Emerging evidence through a number of sources (see annex C) including a review of Children’s Services Plans, and the whole family wellbeing funding consultation and survey carried out by Children in Scotland's Supporting the Third Sector Project has identified that there is a need to strengthen collaboration with local third sector partners as a key sector within each Children’s Services Planning Partnership. The role of Third Sector Interfaces provides opportunities to strengthen participation. These findings are consistent with challenges faced more widely across community planning.

The Whole Family Wellbeing Fund – third sector engagement survey makes the following recommendations:

For Children’s Services Planning Partnerships 

  • information about future whole family wellbeing funding should be communicated in a timely manner to third sector partners, and with the Third Sector Interface as a part of the local children’s services planning governance
  • further consideration needs to take place of how third sector partners are enabled to have meaningful participation in the development and decision-making processes relating to use of future whole family wellbeing funding. For example, using the family support toolkit and the Self-evaluation Tool: How Good is our Third Sector Participation in Children’s Service Planning? self-evaluation tool, which have been co-developed to support Children’s Services Planning Partnerships’ strategic governance groups to hold consistent and structured discussions about local design and delivery of holistic whole family support as part of each area’s children's services planning approach.
  • resources should be allocated to Third Sector Interfaces to enhance third sector coordination, and enable greater third sector participation in strategic decision-making on use of the funding.

For the Scottish Government 

  • the Scottish Government should continue to liaise with the Supporting the Third Sector Project to ensure that information about whole family wellbeing funding continues to be cascaded through the national Third Sector Interface Network.
  • the Scottish Government should commit to reviewing progress in this area in collaboration with the Supporting the Third Sector Project. This should focus on enabling the third sector in greater local decision-making relating to the whole family wellbeing funding.

The Scottish Government has established a short-life working group to further understand the issues the third sector are experiencing in relation to the whole family wellbeing funding. This is made up of representatives from the third sector. The objectives of the group are to identify

  • opportunities through the whole family wellbeing funding to enhance third sector capacity building, so they become and continue to be a strong partner within children’s services planning
  • what action is needed to support or encourage better engagement with the third sector as part of local children’s services planning arrangements to ensure collaborative strategic decision-making and enhance third sector participation in local service planning, service design and delivery of holistic whole family support

Examples of good practice 

  • whilst the consensus for early research findings is that meaningful involvement of the third sector in relation to the whole family wellbeing funding needs to improve within Children’s Services Planning Partnerships, there are a number of case studies that demonstrate good collaboration with evidence of highly effective practice. Examples of these are included at annex D

Proposed actions 

  • the third sector short life working group has considered the emerging findings from the various sources and recommends the following actions to influence change and support better collaboration between public sector partners and the third sector in the decision-making, design and uses of the whole family wellbeing funding (and within children’s services planning more generally)

Children’s Service Planning Partnerships 

  • whole family wellbeing funding plans should be shared with Third Sector Interfaces with effective opportunities for wider third sector engagement in their development, delivery and review of progress
  • local children’s services planning arrangements should ensure use of whole family wellbeing funding is taking place in line with the family support vision, blueprint and principles, Part 3 children services planning duties, and children’s services planning review criteria
    • a clear, ambitious compelling shared vision of what will be achieved by the end of the plan
    • sets out a comprehensive strategy for supporting families through a broad range of preventative and early intervention approaches (from universal services to targeted intensive support) describing the rationale for how and where the family support services are provided
    • describe what services are going to be developed in the future, and specifying which areas will see disinvestment to facilitate shift of resources towards preventative and early intervention options
    • conveys a shared sense of ongoing engagement/ownership with staff, children, young people, families and the wider community, evidencing the Partnership makes full use of stakeholder’s ideas
  • the local children’s services planning governance forum should ensure that local strategic planning and delivery arrangements support widespread third sector representation across partners
  • third sector partners should have the opportunity to influence service planning and design related to the use of whole family wellbeing funding at the earliest point of discussion.

Third sector partners 

  • third sector representatives should provide leading roles within strategic governance of Children’s Services Planning Partnerships to achieve a shared vision
  • third sector helps to represent the views of children, parents/carers and families and these views are effectively used by the Children’s Services Planning Partnerships
  • through co-ordination, facilitation and representation, third sector representatives (Third Sector Interfaces) should ensure a large variety of third sector organisations are involved in the service design process
  • third sector should look to collaborate and join up working where possible for commissioned and non-commissioned services to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people in line with local plans

Scottish Government 

  • support continued engagement with the third sector through Children in Scotland’s Supporting the Third Sector Project and the Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads Network
  • reporting on third sector engagement including distribution of whole family wellbeing funding should be included in whole family wellbeing funding annual reporting
  • continue to ensure whole family wellbeing funding details are cascaded through the Third Sector Interface Network

Next steps 

  • the Scottish Government will publish a self-evaluation tool to support and strengthen the role of the third sector within children’s services planning approaches across Scotland. We will also continue our conversations with our third sector short-life working group to explore opportunities through whole family wellbeing funding to enhance third sector capacity-building, so they become and continue to be a strong partner within children’s services planning

Evidence sources

Scottish Government sources

Children in Scotland - supporting the third sector project

Supporting The Third Sector (STTS) Project Survey 2023: Third Sector Participation in Children’s Services Planning

Whole Family Wellbeing Funding Positive Planning case studies 

Back to top