6. What is the role of the lead professional?
The lead professional should have the appropriate skills and experience to coordinate all agencies involved in supporting a child and young person’s wellbeing, taking a cohesive approach in the coordination and management of the multi-agency plan for the child or young person. They should:
- support children, young people and families to fully participate in discussions about what is happening in a child or young person’s world, where this is in their best interests and in consideration with their full spectrum of rights;
- ensure as far as possible, that the child or young person and their family understand what is happening at all times and support them to participate in decisions being made;
- act as a main point of contact for all, particularly to ensure the child or young person and their family are not required to tell their story multiple times to multiple professionals;
- oversee the implementation of the child’s plan and check that it is reviewed, accurate and kept up-to-date;
- ensure that targeted support is helping to improve agreed outcomes for the child or young person;
- promote teamwork between agencies, and work in partnership with the named person;
- support the child or young person and their family during key transition points (see glossary), particularly any transfer to a new lead professional; and,
- have an awareness and understanding of the working practices of other agencies.
The lead professional is accountable to their own agency for:
- meeting individual professional tasks; and,
- achieving the responsibilities which the lead professional role entails as above.
The lead professional is responsible to make sure other practitioners are clear about the different roles they have and the contributions they make to implement the child’s plan; they are not responsible for the actions of other practitioners or services. Practitioners taking on the role of lead professional should be provided with appropriate support and professional development.
Disagreement between practitioners supporting the child, young person or family: In some cases there will be statutory processes in place. Where there are no statutory requirements, if there is disagreement among practitioners supporting the child, young person or their family, the lead professional should seek to achieve a consensus that gives due consideration to the views of the child or young person, in accordance with their age and capacity, and in full consideration of their best interests, and wider rights.
Failure to make progress: In some cases there will be statutory requirements and escalation processes in place. Where there are no statutory requirements, if practitioners involved are not fulfilling their professional role as part of the child’s plan, this should be escalated in line with local procedures.
In some circumstances, the preparation of a record of a child or young person’s needs and how these will be met is required to comply with legislation. Where this applies, the lead professional should be familiar with the relevant statutory requirements. For example:
- under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 for school education authorities to prepare a coordinated support plan. This applies in respect of children and young people who have enduring additional support needs that have a significant adverse effect on their education, who require support from services outside education;
- under The Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 for local authorities to prepare a child’s plan in respect of any child or young person who is, or is about to be, looked after in terms of section 17(6) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”);
- under section 23(3) of the 1995 Act for a local authority to prepare, on request, an assessment of a child, or of any other person in the child’s family, to determine the child’s needs in so far as attributable to their or the other person’s disability; and,
- for a responsible authority to prepare a young carer’s statement under section 12 of the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.
There may be situations where a child, young person and/or family no longer wish to continue to work with the individual who has been identified as the lead professional and will seek someone else for that role. While circumstances will vary, the child, young person and family could approach their named person to discuss this and reasonable steps to identify and offer another suitable individual should be taken. The child or young person, in accordance with their evolving capacity, and their family should be supported to fully participate in discussions and decision-making to identify an appropriate new lead professional.
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