Updated Good Practice Guidance for use by all practitioners working with children, young people and families affected by substance use

Chapter 6


This Sixth, and final, chapter sets out expectations for strategic leaders and local planning forums to support both the planning and delivery of operational services.

The Chapter is divided into five main sections which specifically address:

  • General Principles of Partnership Working.
  • National and Local Planning.
  • Public Protection and Partnership Agreements.
  • Operational Planning.
  • Workforce Learning and Development.

For practitioners' ease of reference, the key messages from this Sixth Chapter are summarised below.


Strong strategic leadership and a committed workforce underpin effective front-line service delivery.

Effective partnership working is at the core of this.

Strategic partners should ensure that Community Planning takes a coherent response to problematic alcohol and/or drug use. This included in relation to impacts on children affected by their parent's problem alcohol and/or drug use.

Jointly agreed protocols between key strategic partners - including the area Alcohol and Drug Partnerships and the Child Protection Committees as key bodies responsible for co-ordinating local child and adult services - should be in place,

All strategic partnership agreements and local delivery action plans should be coherent and agreed and underpinned by strong accountability and governance arrangements.

Services should ensure that local mechanisms are in place to provide learning and development opportunities for staff. This should include opportunities for all levels of staff, including practitioners, operational managers, specialist services and strategic leaders and Elected Members.

CPCs and ADPs should develop a joint training programme and strategy for all staff working with children, individuals and families where alcohol and/or drug use is a factor.


295. Strong strategic leadership and also a competent and confident workforce underpin effective service delivery. Partnership working - as described in the previous Chapter 5 - is at the core of this, both at strategic and operational levels.

296. This Chapter describes some of the key elements of effective partnership working. This includes the relevance of strong partnership working to those with a strategic responsibility for implementation. For example, Lead Officers and Public Protection Forums such as Child Protection Committees (CPCs) and Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs).

297. This Chapter also goes on to explore the need for joint, coherent and effective workforce development planning to support practitioners and front line managers to deliver services with a 'whole family' recovery approach.


298. Partnership working can mean different things at different levels. It can refer to strategic planning and leadership, operational service design and management arrangements, and also a co-ordinated approach across front-line services.

299. Whatever the nature of the partnership, it is important that all participants understand their key responsibilities including around accountability and influence. To achieve this partnerships should agree overall accountability and governance frameworks. These should recognise the strengths of local public services and the Third Sector.

300. Common features of strong inter-agency partnerships are:

  • Shared values and principles.
  • Open and transparent decision making.
  • Maintaining regular communication and contact between services.
  • Robust performance management arrangements.
  • Agreed partnership protocols.
  • Collaboration with operational programmes.
  • Agreed joint commissioning of services/training processes.


Characteristics of effective partnership working

Staffing and management structures should be bespoke - to match the activity at hand

Shared values and principle

Open and transparent negotiations and decision making

Timely reporting for performance management

Regular communication and contact

Collaboration with operational programmes

Shared outcomes

Written partnership agreements, so that there is clarity in terms of roles, responsibilities and conflict resolution.

Links between performance management, scrutiny and planning

301. Strategic partnerships should take account of these features and provide the necessary leadership for operational partnerships and local services to implement services for better outcomes for children and their families.


302. Local plans should reflect the 15 national outcomes set out in the Concordat between the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) through the Single Outcome Agreement. The national outcomes most relevant to local service planning for children and young people are:

  • National outcome 4: Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and effective citizens;
  • National outcome 5: Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed; and
  • National outcome 8: We have improved the life chances of children, young people and families at risk.

303. Children's services planning should be within the Community Planning framework. There should be direct links between relevant local plans and the Single Outcome Agreement.

304. Child Protection Committees (CPCs) are locally based, inter-agency, strategic partnerships responsible for child protection policy and practice across the public, private and wider Third Sectors. Their role is to provide individual and collective leadership and also general direction for the management of child protection services in their areas.

305. In early 2009, the Scottish Government, in partnership with COSLA, published A New Framework for Local Partnerships on Alcohol and Drugs. That framework included plans to move local alcohol and drug strategic planning - which was identified as a priority area for improvement - into Community Planning Partnerships. As part of this change, new Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) were created in October 2009 in each local authority area. These replaced the former Alcohol and Drug Action Teams (ADATs).

306. Ultimately, ADPs are anchored in Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) and are responsible for drawing up joint partnership-based strategies to tackle alcohol and/or drugs in their communities. They should ensure that Community Planning takes a coherent response to adult problem alcohol and/or drug use and the impacts on children.

307. They are also expected to be involved in producing, implementing and monitoring local Single Outcome Agreements that include a problematic alcohol and/or drug use element.


"The aim of public protection is to reduce the harm to children and adults at risk. Public protection requires agencies to work together at both a strategic and operational level to raise awareness and understanding and co-ordinate an effective response that provides at-risk individuals with the support needed to reduce the risk in their lives. In some areas this work is overseen by a dedicated public protection forum, while in others individual fora are responsible for their particular area of activity. Whatever the local arrangements, steps need to be taken locally to ensure that areas of overlap and commonality are identified to ensure a consistent approach to planning and service delivery."

The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010

308. Local areas need to demonstrate how CPCs and ADPs are working together in partnership with local services to support children and families affected by parental problem alcohol and/or drug use. Chief Officers of the Local Authority should be satisfied that there are effective accountability and governance structures in place to achieve this. These arrangements should ensure that there is compatibility between the priorities of the strategic plans/work plans of each and every multi-agency partnership and that these are documented.

309. Strategic plans should be reflective of the needs of children affected by parental problem alcohol and/or drug use, the recognition by individual membership organisations of those needs, and also its strategies to equip staff to meet these needs.

310. Chief Officers within local authorities should ensure transparent processes are in place to regularly monitor the implementation of shared priorities. Joint strategic planning should reflect local early intervention approaches and strategies to reduce the negative impacts of problem alcohol and/or drug use. It should also reflect the availability and range of support options for parents as detailed within Scottish Government Reports such as Essential Care.(2008) and Quality Alcohol Treatment and Support (QATS) Scottish Government (2011).

311. Chief Officers should ensure there is a local level partnership agreement between CPCs and ADPs to strengthen links and accountability between these forums. The partnership agreements should have a clear terms of reference and joint Action Plans which have an outcome focus.

312. Partnership agreements will require a commitment from services and CPCs and ADPs to agree joint strategic priorities, including shared management information. The aim of the Agreements would be to help services and local planning arrangements to connect at every level including nationally.

313. A draft Terms of reference for CPC/ADP local Partnership Agreements is provided in Appendix 5.


Strategic Planning

Identify all relevant strategic groups that are either directly responsible for the CAPSM agenda, or contribute to relevant outcomes for children and families including ADPs; CPCs; Integrated Children's Planning Partnerships; Adult Protection Committees, Community Safety Partnerships.

Compatibility of strategic priorities/outcomes across each group to achieve synergy, identify who is leading on which priority; and demonstrate how each will contribute to national, high level outcomes for children (e.g. National Outcome 5: Our children have the best start in life; National Outcome 8: We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk).

Action/Delivery Plans for each strategic group which detail how these will be achieved in with baselines; intermediate outcomes and KPIs to support performance management. [NOTE: again, not sure what all this means or where the link is to earlier text]

Leads: Each partnership/plan should have named leads for implementation and to be representatives on other key strategic groups (e.g. between ADPs/CPCs) with regular liaison and good communication re: actions and progress/outcomes/impact.


314. National expectations for children and CPCs were described in the national Child Protection Guidance. ADPs also provide Plans and reports which will demonstrate progress towards families outcomes. The link to planning and reporting arrangements for ADPs can be viewed at:

315. Effective partnership working at the local level between ADPs and CPCs to improve outcomes for children individuals and families is critical. Each adult service should have a substance use Action Plan in place based on this revised Guidance and also their ADP/Area CPC Guidance. These Action Plans should acknowledge the context in which individual services are delivered and specify any restrictions - including those arising from local resourcing considerations.

316. Any limitations on identifying concerns about a child should be agreed with the ADP/Area Child Protection Committee and made explicit in the Action Plan. Action Plans should be subject to regular external monitoring through the ADP/Area CPC and to an agreed timescale.

317. ADPs/Area Child Protection Committees can only encourage those services that do not receive statutory funding also to adopt this approach. A senior, adult service, member of staff should be designated responsible for the agency's Action Plan. They should also be trained to give advice to staff on children's issues. It may be helpful if the agency holds a register of all dependent children of adult service users for use as needed.

318. Staff in adult services should be trained to a level that matches what is expected of their role. This should include:

  • A knowledge of local information sharing protocols and an understanding of the limits of confidentiality.
  • The ability to raise the issue of children and pregnancy with service users in a sensitive yet clear way and also to screen for risks using tools such as those at Appendix 5
  • Information about the adult and their responsibilities for a child should be considered as part of an ongoing process. Particular attention should be paid to any change in the adults' circumstances or where any new adults enter the household.
  • The ability to recognise immediate risks to children and knowing how to act where these are identified.
  • The ability to recognise any obvious unmet needs with regard to children and to know what to do if these are identified.
  • A knowledge of local statutory and non-statutory children's services and the referral process for these. ADPs/Area CPCs will want to ensure that this information is readily available.

319. Adult services must try to identify - from the service user - what other services are involved with the family and should seek permission to liaise with these. Every attempt should be made to verify information given about children by parents/carers with reliable third parties.

320. Screening by adult services should include seeing the child/children and there should be home visiting by staff trained to identify risks/unmet needs where the service has the capacity to do this. Contact with children should not be limited to the period of initial engagement but should take place from time to time, particularly if/when there is any change in the adult's circumstances.

321. There are limitations on what can be undertaken in certain street level/outreach services, needle exchanges and such initiatives as Naloxone training projects. Staff in these services should be trained to be able to identify immediate child protection concerns and know how to refer these on.

322. If it is possible to engage with people using these services regarding the safety and well-being of any children they may have, without compromising the purposes for which such services exist, then this should be done. It may be helpful for individual agencies or ADPs/Area CPCs to produce a leaflet to give to service users about how best to ensure the well-being of their children. This might both aid initial discussion of the topic with the service user but also could be of use in services such as needle exchanges.


"I need someone (worker) who knows the score. Knows when I am at it and challenges me".
Sue - drinking mum


323. A broad range of practitioners are generally involved with children and/or adults where problem alcohol and/or drug use is a factor. This includes:

  • Universal services - play a key role in early identification, intervention and sharing of concerns.
  • Specialist and targeted services - working directly with children and/or their families.
  • Service providers - responsible for the delivery and planning of services locally.
  • Clinical/residential/in-patient services

324. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a learning and development framework that further defines the workforce. Once complete, this will be accessible via the MARS link ( referenced earlier in this Guidance.

325. To be able to provide effective services for children and their families, agencies first need empathetic, confident workers.

326. These workers should also have a clear understanding of both theoretical and evidence based practice. This should be underpinned with professional judgement, an understanding of values and attitudes, and also how these can impact on professional judgement.


327. Core requirements for all staff working in this area include:

  • The ability to listen, communicate, make decisions, review and evaluate interventions, ability to talk to children and understand their views.
  • Knowledge supported by reflection on practice and sound supervision
  • Attitudes about problematic drug and/or alcohol use that are helpful towards both service users and other professionals.
  • Attitudes towards HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C that are positive, non- stigmatising and supportive given the risk of infection and the high prevalence of hepatitis C in people who inject drugs in Scotland.
  • Sound management support.
  • Service design which reflects skills and judgements required.

Learning and development in the area of problem alcohol and/or drug use is not an isolated activity and has to link to other learning and development strategies, for example local implementation of getting it right for every child, Child Protection, the Sexual Health and Blood Borne Virus Framework, domestic abuse, mental health etc.


328. Workforce development is a planned process aimed at ensuring both collective and individual effectiveness in the delivery of services. It should be sufficiently flexible to respond to any new information and/or changes. In effect, it should enable skills and knowledge to be brought together.

329. Workforce development encourages staff to take personal responsibility for their learning. It might typically include training, peer support, and effective supervision arrangements that encourage reflection and learning. Other examples of learning opportunities include, learning from Significant Case Reviews, case discussion groups, practitioner forums and opportunities for shadowing across services.

330. Services should ensure that local mechanisms are in place to provide these learning and development opportunities for staff. This should include opportunities for all levels of staff, including practitioners, operational managers, specialist services and strategic leaders and Elected Members.

331. CPCs and ADPs should develop a joint training programme and strategy based on the following principles:

  • The values and principles of GIRFEC.
  • The key roles and functions of CPCs.
  • The principles and key features of the framework for ADPs.
  • Promoting quality and consistency of professional relationships.
  • Local policies and leadership, including training links between adult and children's services.
  • Inter-agency training.
  • Learning and development champions.
  • Embedding training in practice and making links with relevant practice guidance and training/competency frameworks.
  • Providing relevant training for line managers, planners and commissioners.
  • Promoting a safe environment in which to learn and share, for example:
    • Effective staff support and supervision
    • Acknowledgement of staff fears and apprehensions
    • Impact of dealing with disclosures
    • Explicitly embedding in Personal Development Plans.
  • Ensuring a more specific focus on issues related to problem alcohol use.
  • Promotion of the Recovery agenda and treating the whole family.
  • Outcomes-focused.
  • Compliments single agency training requirements to ensure workforce is meeting professional competencies e.g. training for maternity services staff etc.

332. A programme approach for training on alcohol and drug related issues are recommended and a draft outline of such a programme is provided at Appendix 6.


333. Local joint training strategies developed by CPCs and ADPs should include training pathways for staff from a range of different services and ensure that these are also embedded within single agency training strategies.

334. The following are types of practitioners that would usually require individual training pathways:

  • Social Work Services - Social Workers, Criminal Justice staff, Foster Carers, Early Years Workers, Residential Care staff.
  • Education - Teachers, Designated Child Protection Officers.
  • Health (Public Health Nurses, Health Visitors, School Nurses) Midwives, Community Paediatricians, A&E staff, GPs, Family Planning Clinics.
  • Police - PPU staff, Police Inspectors, Police Constables.
  • Housing - Housing Officers, Housing Support Staff.
  • Voluntary Sector - Substance Misuse Services.
  • Voluntary Sector - Children and Families Services.
  • Private Fostering Agencies.
  • Private Residential Care Providers.


335. Together with locally identified training needs, it is recommended that all local training programmes should include specific training opportunities for staff on the following subjects:

  • Risk Assessment.
  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
  • Substance Misuse and Pregnancy.
  • Blood Borne Viruses.
  • Substance Misuse and Mental Health

Practice Example

Responding Early to Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse

STRADA was commissioned by Fife CPC to develop and deliver ten 'Responding Early to

Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse' (RECAPSM) events throughout April, May and June 2011.

A total of 138 participants attended these events and all participants worked within the Fife ADP area. The majority of participants worked within the Social Work (36.2%) and Voluntary (25.4%) sectors.

'This course was eye opening and relevant to the work that I do as a Neighbourhood adviser, visiting tenants on a daily basis. It gave me a deeper insight into the effects of addiction by the person and what it can do for the family members especially the children, and the problems that they experience.

'Excellent opportunity for networking and to share knowledge / skills, also refreshing skills and gaining perspective'

Several participants highlighted the importance of the multi-agency aspect of the training.


Many comments received related specifically to practice becoming more child focused.

'This course reinforced the need to speak to children who are living with carers who are abusing drugs/substances. Often practitioners spend a great deal of time supporting the carers in order to minimise the risk to the children, however to gain a real insight into what day to day life is like then more time needs to be spent with the children and looking at what additional supports they need.'

Many comments also related to increased information sharing, increased involvement of other agencies and greater confidence and / or awareness.

'I will be more aware of the problems associated with the use of addiction of Drugs/Alcohol. Having the confidence to deal with the situation. The importance of sharing or asking for information from other services no matter how small or significant it may be really important.'

'Be more aware of the difficulties that people face and try to listen better. Take more time to consider the effects on the whole family not just the client concerned. Feel more confident to discuss concerns with other relevant professionals.'


Email: Graeme Hunter

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