7. The wellbeing of groups of children
Parts 3 and 9 of the Act relate to the wellbeing of groups or populations of children, as well as individuals. Wellbeing information relating to children or young people living in a particular area, or who are part of a particular group, is to be used in planning services and reporting on outcomes.
Part 3 of the Act requires local authorities and health boards jointly to prepare Children’s Services Plans ensuring that children’s and related services in a local area are provided in a way that:
- best safeguards, supports and promotes the wellbeing of all children;
- ensures that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest; appropriate time and that, where appropriate, action is taken to prevent needs arising;
- is most integrated from the point of view of recipients; and
- and constitutes the best use of available resources.
The local authority and health board are also required to report jointly, on an annual basis, on the extent to which the provision of these services meets all of the aims stated above, as well as any outcomes in relation to the wellbeing of children in the area as the Scottish Ministers may prescribe.
Corporate parenting duties are specified in Part 9 of the Act and its accompanying statutory guidance. These duties apply to the organisations listed in schedule 4 of the Act. Each corporate parent listed in schedule 4 is to understand the definition of wellbeing as described in section 96 of the Act, and to be alert to matters which might adversely affect wellbeing. In order to achieve this, corporate parents should ensure they create a culture where wellbeing is understood in the context of sections 95 and 96 of the Act, specifically in relation to those who are, or have been, looked after children.
When considering the wellbeing of children or young people in a particular group or community, any assessment of needs must be done within the context of the relevant environment for that particular group. As with individuals, assessments of wellbeing at a group or community level must be rights-based (paragraph 3.1 refers) and described in terms of the wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI).
Children’s services and corporate parenting planning may use anonymous, aggregated information from individual children’s wellbeing assessments. This may support the identification of gaps in service provision and the development of services to meet local needs. Other relevant information will be gathered at a community level through participation and engagement with local children, young people and their families.
Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 also places a duty on specified public authorities to report every 3 years on the steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect the requirements of the UNCRC. Some listed authorities to which child rights reporting duties within Part 1 of the 2014 Act apply are also be subject to duties under Part 3 of the 2014 Act as it relates to Children’s Services Planning; in particular, local authorities and health boards. The current intention is that in due course Part 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill would repeal and replace Part 1 the 2014 Act.
Currently, Part 1 non-statutory guidance of the 2014 Act notes that there is no requirement within Part 3 of the same for local authorities and relevant health boards to adopt a child’s rights-based approach within their children’s services planning process or to link with the Part 1 reporting duty. However, listed authorities may wish to discharge their duties under Part 1 and Part 3 simultaneously by combining the reporting requirements within their Children’s Services Plan, as per the requirements of Part 3. Doing so may benefit both processes by providing a structure within which to plan, review and report on children’s rights and wellbeing, cementing the link between fulfilling children’s rights and promotion of their wellbeing.
The Scottish Government’s Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) is a key tool that those engaging with children in Scotland can use to support a child rights-based approach. The CRWIA is a purpose built policy and legislation impact assessment designed primarily for use by Scottish Government, but can be used by public bodies and children’s services as well. It was launched on 15 June 2015 as part of the implementation strategy for Ministerial duties under Part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. CRWIAs draw on both the UNCRC and the GIRFEC principles to assess the potential impact of a policy or measure on children’s rights and wellbeing. The CRWIA covers individual children and groups of children, up to the age of 18. The use of CRWIAs also encourages the participation of children in decision-making. It is intended to support analysis of the impact – positive or negative – that proposed policies or measures may have on children’s rights and wellbeing.
The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 came into effect in 2018 and represents a major step forward in the rights afforded to all unpaid carers, including young carers. Many of these rights for young carers are based on GIRFEC principles and are designed to support their wellbeing and allow them to be children and young people first and foremost. Further information on the rights for all unpaid carers can be found in the Carers’ charter, in an easy to digest format.
Children and young people who attend school benefit from a curriculum that supports their learning and personal development and where teaching and support from others meets their wellbeing needs. However, at times barriers to learning may lead to a requirement for additional support to be put in place to enable a child or young person to benefit from school education. The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (the 2004 Act) provides the legal framework for identifying and addressing the additional support needs of all children and young people who face a barrier, or barriers, to learning. The factors which may give rise to additional support needs are wide and varied because they relate to the wellbeing and circumstances of individual children. The 2004 Act aims to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their full potential.
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