GIRFEC National Practice Model

A consistent way for an agency or organisation to construct a plan and take appropriate action to support children, young people and their families.

When assessment, planning and action are needed, practitioners can draw on this Getting it right for every child National Practice Model, which can be used in a single or multi-agency context, and:

  • provides a framework for practitioners and agencies to structure and analyse information consistently so as to understand a child or young person's needs, the strengths and pressures on them, and consider what support they might need
  • defines needs and risks as two sides of the same coin. It promotes the participation of children, young people and their families in gathering information and making decisions as central to assessing, planning and taking action
  • provides a shared understanding of a child or young person's needs by identifying concerns that may need to be addressed

GIRFEC National Practice Model diagram

GIRFEC national practice model diagram

The National Practice Model is a dynamic and evolving process of assessment, analysis, action and review, and a way to identify outcomes and solutions for individual children or young people. It allows practitioners to meet the Getting it right for every child core values and principles in an appropriate, proportionate and timely way.

It contains the key elements of a single planning process that should in turn lead to a single child's plan - if one is needed.

It is a way for all agencies and workers who support children, young people and their families to begin to develop a common language within a single framework, enabling more effective inter- and intra-agency working.

Using the National Practice Model in this consistent way allows practitioners in any agency or organisation to construct a plan and take appropriate action. It also allows for regular and consistent reviewing of the plan.

This model should be used in conjunction with the Wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI).

Observing and recording

The wellbeing indicators are used in a number of ways. They can be used to structure the recording of routine information about a child or young person, under whichever headings are appropriate, to record their progress in universal services. This will allow relevant information to be shared more easily.

The eight indicators in the wellbeing wheel are areas in which children and young people need to progress in order to do well now and in the future. They allow practitioners to structure information (which may identify needs and concerns), and to plan. They are used to record observations, events and concerns and when putting together a child's plan. The My World Triangle and the Resilience Matrix are then used to gather, structure and assist in the analysis of information.

In some cases, recording progress using the wellbeing indicators will allow practitioners to identify concerns that only become apparent from cumulative information or collated single-agency or multi-agency records.

If you work with children and young people, and you record information about them, you and your organisation should start organising that information in line with the National Practice Model.

Recording concerns

The wellbeing indicators can also be used to structure recording of a specific concern that may be raised with or by practitioners that may need further assessment or action, for example, not doing as well in school as expected. A concern can be an event itself, or a series of events, or attributes, which affect the wellbeing or potential wellbeing of a child or young person, for example, missing appointments for health checks.

A concern can also arise because a child or young person is, for example, living in a family where a parent may be misusing drugs or alcohol. Parents, children and young people themselves may have concerns that they bring to the attention of practitioners.

The five questions any practitioner needs to ask are the same questions all practitioners need to raise when they are concerned about a child or young person:

  • What is getting in the way of this child or young person's wellbeing?
  • Do I have all the information I need to help this child or young person?
  • What can I do now to help this child or young person?
  • What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
  • What additional help, if any, may be needed from others?

The wellbeing indicators are also used when a plan is being constructed or reviewed, to summarise the child or young person's needs.

Resilience matrix

People using the Resilience matrix need to understand the basic principles of resilience and how they fit in the National Practice Model.

These three building blocks of resilience offer a simple explanation of what we mean by the term (Groteberg 1997):

Secure base

I have:

  • people around me I trust and who love me no matter what
  • people who set limits for me so I know when to stop before there is danger or trouble
  • people who show me how to do things right by the way they do things
  • people who want me to learn to do things on my own
  • people who help me when I am sick, in danger, or need to learn

Self esteem

I am:

  • a person other people can like and love
  • a person who is happy to do nice things for others and able to show my concern
  • a person who is respectful of myself and of others
  • a person who is willing to be responsible for what I do
  • a person who is sure that in the end things will be alright


I can:

  • talk to other people about the things that frighten or bother me
  • find ways to solve the problems I might face
  • control myself when I feel like doing something that's not right, or that's dangerous
  • figure out when it is a good time to talk to someone, or to take action
  • find someone to help me when I need it

Resilience/vulnerability matrix

The slightly expanded version gives some indicators of what, for example, a protective environment might look like and how to assess a child or young person's resilience.

(Do they, for instance, have good self esteem? Do they show good attachment to parents or carers?)

This model should be used in conjunction with the Wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI).

My World Triangle

When working with children or young people, the My World Triangle is used at every stage to think about the whole world of the child or young person.

It is particularly helpful to use the My World Triangle to gather more information from other sources (some of it possibly specialist), to identify the strengths or wellbeing concerns in the child or young person's world. This may include information about health or learning, offending behaviour or information about issues affecting parenting.

For example, under 'How I grow and develop', both Named Person or Lead Professional and the child or young person are offered prompts and statements designed to encourage them to examine their learning and development and family life.

The My World Triangle supports practice that considers the child or young person's needs and risks, as well as the positive features in their lives. Strengths and wellbeing concerns are given equal consideration and can be structured around the triangle. Information gathered should be proportionate and relevant to the issues in hand. In many cases, it will not be necessary to explore every area of the triangle in detail but only to look at those immediately relevant. However, it is still important to keep the child or young person's whole world in mind and provide immediate help where necessary while continuing assessment.

Using the My World Triangle allows practitioners to consider systematically:

  • how the child or young person is growing and developing
  • what the child or young person needs from the people who look after him or her
  • the impact of the child or young person's wider world of family, friends and community

Planning, action and recording

Summarising needs against the Wellbeing indicators (SHANARRI)

When the child or young person's needs are clear they can be summarised using the Wellbeing Indicators to develop a plan for action. Wellbeing indicators can be used to identify priorities, describe what needs to change to improve the child or young person's wellbeing and identify the expected outcomes.

Planning, taking action, and reviewing

In the Getting it right for every child approach, any child or young person who requires additional help should have a plan to address their needs and improve their wellbeing. This will be a single child's plan, but may involve more than one agency.

Getting it right for every child promotes an integrated and co-ordinated approach to multi-agency planning. It looks to practitioners to work in accordance with legislation and guidance but also expects agencies to think beyond their immediate remit, drawing on the skills and knowledge of others as necessary and thinking in a broad, holistic way. For example, a care plan for a child looked after by the local authority, a health care plan, or an individualised education plan should be incorporated within the single child's plan where the child or young person's circumstances require this.

Every plan should include and record:

  • reasons for the plan
  • partners to the plan
  • the views of the child or young person and their parents or carers
  • a summary of the child or young person's needs
  • what is to be done to improve a child or young person's circumstances
  • details of action to be taken
  • resources to be provided
  • timescales for action and for change
  • contingency plans
  • arrangements for reviewing the plan
  • Lead Professional arrangements where they are appropriate
  • details of any compulsory measures if required

It is important to look at whether the actions taken have achieved the outcomes specified in the plan and what changes or further action, if any, are required.

In reviewing the outcome of the plan with the child or young person and family, practitioners will need to ask these five questions:

  • What has improved in the child or young person's circumstances?
  • What, if anything, has got worse?
  • Have the outcomes in the plan been achieved?
  • If not, is there anything in the plan that needs to be changed?
  • Can we continue to manage the plan within the current environment?

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