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

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.


Executive Summary

This report sets out key findings from the review of Scotland's Children's Services Plans (CSPs) published in 2020-2023[1] and highlights areas of strength and improvement and examples of good practice. Review of the Plans only tells us part of the picture, and the report also describes the evolving policy context and impacts relevant to outcomes for children, young people and families since the previous review in 2019. This draws on findings from engagement with the Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network and other stakeholders which have helped to shape recommendations for improvement. Together, these provide an overview of the current delivery context and effectiveness of Children's Services Planning across Scotland, and inform future national and local decision-making on Children's Services Planning.

The analysis of CSPs was structured around 15 Criteria which relate to the content, format and process of developing a Plan, outlined in Part 3 Statutory Guidance (Children's Services Planning). Table 1 shows a list of the Criteria and the number of CSPs that achieved, partly achieved, or did not achieve each Criterion based on the information provided in the Plans. Criteria highlighted in green indicate areas of strength, and those in amber or red require further development, across the Plans as a whole.

Table 1 - Summary of extent to which CSPs met the Statutory Guidance Criteria (N=30)

Statutory Review Criteria

Achieved

Partly Achieved

Not

Achieved

1. Vision

29

0

1

2. National Performance Framework

16

11

3

3. Joint Strategic Needs Assessment

18

8

4

4. Include Analysis of Data

13

12

5

5. Manageable and Measurable Priorities

11

19

0

6a. Children's Services

22

7

1

6b. Related Services

20

6

4

7. Prevention & Early Intervention

25

5

0

8. GIRFEC

27

3

0

9. Children's Rights

28

1

1

10. Engagement & Ownership

14

16

0

11. Family Support

21

7

2

12. Resources

10

9

11

13. Monitoring Indicators

17

1

12

14. SMART

5

25

0

15. Links to Plans & Reports

30

0

0

The following areas of strength emerged from the analysis:

  • A clear and shared vision
  • Services offered with a focus on prevention and early intervention
  • Incorporation of the GIRFEC practice approach
  • Incorporation of children's rights and UNCRC
  • Presentation of links to aligned national/local plans
  • A narrative on children's services offered
  • Setting out how services provide whole family support
  • Presentation of robust governance arrangements.

The majority of Plans also addressed COVID-19, referencing the impact of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions on children, young people, families, and local communities, as well as describing innovative services and supports developed locally in response to emerging needs.

Areas for further development identified were:

  • Presentation of sufficient budget and resourcing information
  • Use of data and evidence to explain the rationale behind the choice of strategic priorities, and stronger reference to joint strategic needs assessment data
  • Measurable and time-related Plans to meet the SMART Criterion
  • Engagement with parents/carers/families, the wider community, and local workforce, including the Third Sector
  • Reflection of the National Performance Framework (NPF)
  • A third of Plans needed to include more information on the provision of related services.

The strengthened collective role of the Strategic Leads Network has enhanced the development of key policies and strategic activity, by highlighting experiential learning from Children's Services Planning Partnerships in the planning and delivery of services and support. Building on what children, young people and families have told us matters, and with improved strategic connectivity and an ethos of collaboration, the Network has contributed to the co-design of new tools and resources to support Children's Services Planning Partnerships in working collaboratively to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

Together with findings from the analysis of Children's Services Plans, the learning from engagement has highlighted a number of areas where further action will help refine Scotland's approach to Children's Services Planning. Actions will be progressed in alignment with transformational change programmes and improvement activity over the next CSP cycle (2023-2026). They include:

  • Supporting more cohesive strategic planning/reporting requirements
  • Building capacity for improved analysis and use of data to evidence impact on outcomes
  • Embedding truly collaborative decision-making with strengthened visibility of the Third Sector and Adult Services
  • Developing sustainable joint strategic commissioning and procurement, based on wellbeing
  • Ensuring realisation of children and young people's rights through UNCRC incorporation and service co-design with families
  • Work to #KeepThePromise, embed GIRFEC, and make holistic whole family support available
  • Establishing a National Care Service (NCS)
  • Recovery and renewal from the COVID-19 Pandemic and tackling Child Poverty.

Contact

Email: C&F.StrategicEngagement@gov.scot

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