Improving outcomes for children, young people and families: review of Children’s Services Plans and strategic engagement activity

Summary review of children’s services plans for 2020 to 2023, in line with the Children and Young Peoples (Scotland) Act 2014, statutory guidance part 3. Highlighting key strengths, areas for development and details from strategic engagement with local children’s services planning strategic leads.

9. Collaborative Use of Resources (Criterion 12)

Criterion 12 of the Guidance considers how Children's Services Plans included information on their collective children's services budgets (and related services budget where this has an impact on child wellbeing), and how these were spent across different services and partners over the period of the Plan.

One third of CSPs (10 out of 30) provided sufficient information to meet this Criterion. Nine CSPs included some information on finance but not information on budgeting allocations, and the remaining 11 CSPs mentioned (almost) nothing about resources and/or budgets. This remains an area of challenge in relation to Children's Services Planning, with two thirds of the Plans not providing information set out in the Statutory Guidance for this Criterion.

Almost all CSPs (23 out of 30) referred to local offers of training and development opportunities for their workforce, with nine CSPs highlighting recruitment of new staff to increase capacity. Examples of this included recruitment of a Mental Health Officer, a dedicated GIRFEC lead, and a Children's Rights Officer. Only some CSPs provided details of their current children's services workforce across different key agencies.

Slightly more than half of the CSPs referred to their use of specific funds, mostly Pupil Equity Funding, Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund, and Scottish Attainment Challenge Funding. Most Plans would have been enhanced through further detail of new services being planned, the re-design of existing services, and a shift in investment towards more preventative and early intervention services and supports. Only a few CSPs mentioned this, and with limited detail.

Eight CSPs mentioned commissioned services, plans to commission future services, or referred to their Commissioning Strategy/ Strategic Commissioning Plan, but with minimal details on this. A few CSPs highlighted increased uptake of participatory budgeting opportunities.

A robust Children's Services Plan would include information on the following:

  • The children's services budget and how this was being spent across services, partners and users; information on available funds/investments and how they were used
  • Information on development of new services and how these were being funded; how resources across the CSPP were being shifted towards prevention and early intervention services and supports, with a clear approach to disinvestment
  • Information on commissioning of services
  • Details of relevant children's and related services workforce, recruitment strategies and workforce training and development.

As mentioned above, few CSPPs provided information to fully meet this Criterion based on the above description, and this is a key area for development for the next cycle of CSPs and as part of annual reporting.

Good Practice Examples

Moray: A section in Moray’s Plan is dedicated to the 2019/20 children and families budget and how this was being spent across universal and targeted services, across different service providers, and in relation to different age groups of children and young people. The Plan mentions an investment shift towards prevention and early intervention as an action which will be monitored through use of a specific measurable performance indicator. Moray’s Plan also provides details of planned future investments and uptake of participatory budgeting opportunities to meet local needs. The Plan set out training opportunities to enhance skills and knowledge of the children’s services workforce.

Outer Hebrides: The Plan briefly mentions how the 2019/20 children and families budget is spent across partners and services. The Plan references the recruitment of new workforce and describes the use of specific funds to provide support to children and young people. The CSPP offers training opportunities to ensure workforce development.

South Lanarkshire: South Lanarkshire’s Plan includes an informative and clear section on finance, which reports on the 2019/20 children and families budget and how this was being spent across services and users, as well as specific commissioned services and prioritised investment areas with aligned funding across partners. The Plan discusses how the CSPP has utilised available funding streams, such as the Care Experienced Children and Young People Attainment Fund and the Infant Mental Health Fund, as well as referencing the contribution of Third Sector organisations and commissioned services. It also describes how the CSPP allocates funding and resources for redesigning of services, for early support services, and for commissioning new services. Finally, the CSP details planned training opportunities for the children’s services workforce and wider partners.

The Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network have highlighted a number of barriers faced in moving towards collaborative use of resource across Children's Services Planning Partners. This includes:

  • Joint commissioning and procurement processes which can be slow, inflexible and present challenges to innovation
  • Allocation of national funding via specific partners does not facilitate truly collaborative cross-sector solutions and use of resource by CSPPs
  • Limitations in longer-term planning are faced due to receipt of short-term or temporary national funding streams, which creates uncertainty as to future sustainability
  • A disconnect between children's service and adult service budgets.

A Commissioning and Procurement Subgroup of the Family Support Advisory Group is progressing work to explore these barriers, with an aim of co-developing toolkits which provide solutions, and better support development of joint commissioning strategies and processes to deliver whole family support in an integrated way. The Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network have been fully involved in these developments and will continue to be engaged in next steps.

Establishment of the NCS will provide further opportunities to consider local and national workforce planning and development as well as funding structures, to support better alignment between children's and adult services alongside any recommendations made by the CLG Workforce Development Subgroup.


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