Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC): policy statement

Provides an overview of the policy and legislative context for GIRFEC. It gives an outline of the core components of the policy, including refreshed values and principles, and ambitions for how we can do more in practice.

3. Introduction

The Scottish Government’s ambition is to work together with children, young people, families, organisations and communities to make Scotland the best place to grow up. Through Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC), everyone in Scotland can work together to build the scaffold of

support children and young people need to grow up loved, safe and respected so that they reach their full potential. We want all children and young people to live in an equal society which enables them to flourish, to be treated with kindness, dignity and respect, and to have their rights upheld at all times.

GIRFEC forms a foundation of Scotland’s strong track record of respecting, protecting, and fulfilling children’s rights in law, policy, and practice. A central part of Scotland’s vision is to make this country the best place to grow up. Children have the same rights as all other human beings as well as additional rights that recognise childhood as a special time that requires additional protection. A child’s fundamental human dignity as an individual, a family and a community member must be upheld in order for them to have the quality of life they need for their wellbeing and development.

Underpinning GIRFEC with the UNCRC and other existing children’s rights protections, will help to create a Scotland where all children and young people are recognised as individuals and rights holders, where their human rights are embedded in all aspects of society – a Scotland where policy, law and decision making takes account of children’s rights and where all children and young people have a voice and are empowered to be human rights defenders.

In supporting our ambition to make Scotland the best place to grow up, the National Performance Framework (NPF, 2018) sets out a collaboratively developed vision to create a more successful country with opportunities for all to flourish through increased wellbeing and sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The NPF aims to support everyone in Scotland to work together to achieve our national outcomes, which includes the outcome, ‘all children grow up loved, safe

and respected so that they realise their full potential.’ In line with our holistic and rights-based understanding of the wellbeing of children, young people and families, as set out in the GIRFEC approach, we recognise that the effective implementation of GIRFEC also benefits and contributes to all of our national outcomes.


The framework is for all of Scotland. We aim to:

  • create a more successful country
  • give opportunities to all people living in Scotland
  • increase the wellbeing of people living in Scotland
  • create sustainable and inclusive growth
  • reduce inequalities and give equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress


The values guide our approach, to:

  • treat all our people with kindness, dignity and compassion
  • respect the rule of law
  • act in an open and transparent way

National Outcomes

To help achieve its purpose, the framework sets out ‘National Outcomes’.

These outcomes describe the kind of Scotland it aims to create.

The outcomes:

  • reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland
  • are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • help to track progress in reducing inequality

These national outcomes are that people:

  • grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential
  • live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe
  • are creative and their vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely
  • have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy
  • are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society
  • value, enjoy, protect and enhance their environment
  • have thriving and innovative businesses, with quality jobs and fair work for everyone
  • are healthy and active
  • respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination
  • are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally
  • tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally

We remain fully committed to embedding GIRFEC at the heart of our policies and services, building on the considerable achievements and good practice established since 2006. This is more important than ever, given the current landscape, including:

  • opportunities from the proposed incorporation of the UNCRC and First and Second Optional Protocols to the maximum extent possible, into Scots law;
  • publication of The Promise and the Plan 21-24; and
  • a continued commitment to eradicate child poverty.

This document sets out the Scottish Government’s refreshed national policy on GIRFEC and outlines how all sectors and services should work together, in a rights-respecting way, to ensure that all children, young people and families receive the right support, from the right people at the right time.

GIRFEC provides Scotland with a consistent framework and shared language for promoting, supporting, and safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young people. Through a common understanding of wellbeing, we recognise that children and young people need to grow up safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included, so that they can become confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens. GIRFEC is an evidence-based, internationally recognised and child-rights-based approach. It is locally embedded and positively embraced by organisations, services and practitioners across Children’s Services Planning Partnerships, with a focus on changing culture, systems and practice for the benefit of babies, infants, children, young people and their families.

This suite of documents seeks to reassure leaders, managers and practitioners about how GIRFEC can be delivered within the current legislative and policy framework of rights, information sharing, and delivery of supports and services to children, young people and their families.

Progress in improving outcomes for children and young people through GIRFEC has been evidenced over time, for example in the Review of Findings from the Inspection Programme 2012-2017 and Integrated Children’s Services in Scotland: Practice and Leadership – An assessment of progress and improvement.

This suite of guidance documents sets out the refreshed position in the light of the UK Supreme Court ruling that resulted in Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 not being commenced.

This Policy Statement is accompanied by Statutory Guidance for Assessment of Wellbeing as required by Part 18 (section 96(3)) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, and refreshed practice guidance on using the National Practice Model, the role of the named person (see glossary), the role of the lead professional (see glossary), and information sharing. It is essential that practitioners providing support to children, young people and families have the skills, knowledge and understanding to build relationships and deliver GIRFEC effectively, and to make sure children, young people and families understand how their rights will be respected, protected and fulfilled.



Back to top