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.

1. Introduction

This report is the second national report on Children's Services Planning, and provides an overview of key findings from the review of Children's Services Plans (CSPs) published for 30 areas of Scotland in 2020/21[2] (a list of external links to all CSPs can be found in Appendix A).

The report considers learning across Scotland based on the opportunities and challenges faced in improving outcomes for children, young people and families that were highlighted through a range of stakeholder engagement undertaken by the Scottish Government since the last review. This includes views and feedback from the COVID-19 Children & Families Collective Leadership Group, the Children's Services Planning Strategic Leads Network, governance and short-life working groups, Scottish Government policy teams, organisational stakeholders, and children, young people and families. The review of Plans and stakeholder engagement highlights areas of strength and potential areas for improvement activity. This follows a similar approach to the 2019 national report.

In line with legislative requirements to review Children's Services Plans under Part 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, the report presents information on the extent to which CSPs met statutory review criteria. This includes evidence-based strategic priorities, evidence of joint decision-making, and information which clearly articulate how Children's Services Planning Partnerships (CSPPs) are working collaboratively to improve outcomes for children, young people and families through provision of services, supports, and improvement action.

The report summarises key themes from the overall review, to inform and support policy development and decision-making at the national and local level, and builds on the findings from the previous review of CSPs, shared with stakeholders in 2019. The analysis of Children's Services Plans gives us valuable information on the ways in which Children's Services Planning contributes to improved outcomes for children, young people and families, however this does not provide the whole picture.


Analysis of CSPs was conducted by the Scottish Government Children and Families Analysis Team, working in conjunction with the Strategy Team in the Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division. The analysis was structured around 15 Criteria based on requirements of Children's Services Planning Partnerships regarding the content, format, and process of developing a CSP to plan services and supports with an overall aim of improving outcomes for children, young people and families in each area of Scotland. These Criteria are explicitly outlined in Part 3 Statutory Guidance (Children's Services Planning), with the list of Criteria provided in Appendix B.

Examples of good practice in relation to key Criteria, identified in the Children's Services Plans, are highlighted in this report. This is an illustrative rather than exhaustive list, and other CSPs not mentioned may also have fully met the Criteria in question.

Structure of the report

Section 2 provides information on the policy and legislative background, along with recent developments relevant to the delivery context of Children's Services Planning. Sections 3 to 11 are structured around the review Criteria in Part 3 of the Statutory Guidance and present the analysis of the Plans, and, where relevant, additional information on policy development and stakeholder engagement. Criteria are not discussed in order, but grouped in broader categories as needed for the purposes of this report. Section 12 provides a summary of key points and reflections for next steps.


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