Keeping the Promise implementation plan

The Promise implementation plan sets out our actions and commitments to Keep the Promise for care experienced children, young people and their families. It contributes to our ambition for every child in Scotland to grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential.

Building Capacity

In the previous section we set out how the scaffolding of help, support and accountability must be ready and responsive to support our children, young people and families and the workforce when it is required.

To achieve this it is necessary that we build on a strong legislative framework, that our financial ambitions are aligned and recognise that to improve outcomes we must invest in prevention; and that continued improvement must be underpinned by good information and evaluation so that we know that we have both kept The Promise and that we will continue to keep it.

In this section we will set out the actions that we will take to build this capacity to support the change required to improve the lives of our children, young people and families.

Chapter 16 Legislative Change

It is important that everybody, including our children and young people, understand their rights and how the law applies to them. The legislative framework which currently underpins the care system is set out across dozens of different pieces of legislation.

The Promise refers to 44 pieces of primary legislation, 19 pieces of secondary legislation and 3 international conventions. This is difficult enough for professionals to understand, let alone children and young people. As The Promise told us, there must be a clear legislative, enabling environment that supports families to stay together and protects and allows relationships to flourish.

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change

A Legislative Programme to Support Change

There are parts of The Promise that require legislative changes to progress outcomes in the immediate term. In order to support the change required, we will introduce legislation between now and 2030 including:

  • delivering our commitment to incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child(UNCRC) into Scots law. Following the Supreme Court judgement in October 2021, we are urgently considering the most effective way forward for this important legislation. We remain committed to the incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law to the maximum extent possible as soon as practicable.
  • a Bail and Release from Custody Bill will be introduced this Parliamentary session. This will be brought forward to reform how remand is used and how release mechanisms work for certain prisoners in a Bail and Release from Custody Bill. We consulted on this between November 2021 and February 2022.
  • a Children's Care and Justice Bill will be introduced this Parliamentary session to enable improvements to youth justice, secure care, aspects of the children's hearings system, victims' services and the criminal justice system.
  • a Housing Billwill be introduced this Parliamentary session. This will be a wide- ranging Bill including measures to both strengthen existing homelessness prevention legislation and introduce new duties on public bodies to 'ask and act' to prevent homelessness before someone reaches crisis point.
  • a Legal Aid Reform Bill will be introduced in this Parliamentary session, to ensure that the system is flexible, easy to access and meets the needs of those who use it.
  • a Human Rights Billwill be introduced in this Parliamentary Session to ensure Scotland is a global leader in human rights. The Bill will give effect in Scots law to the maximum extent possible of a wide range of internationally recognised human rights – belonging to everyone in Scotland and strengthen domestic legal protections by making them enforceable in Scots law. We will consult on the Bill in the coming year.
  • By the end of this parliamentary session, we will bring forward a Promise Bill to make any further legislative changes required to Keep The Promise. For example, should legislation be required to implement the recommendations of the Children's Hearings Working Group, this may be included in this Bill. Also, where we bring forward guidance that requires to be put on a statutory footing to make sure that public authorities do what is necessary to keep The Promise, these provisions would be included in this Bill.

A review of the current legislative framework

We will undertake a review of the legislative framework relating to the care system in Scotland.

We will consider the desirability and extent of a re-statement of the law in this area so that the law relating to the care system is identifiable and understandable before considering whether a Bill re-stating the law is necessary.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will introduce a Promise Bill to make any further legislative changes required to Keep The Promise,including in relation to the Children's Hearings Systems redesign,by the end of this parliamentary session.
  • We will undertake a review of the legislative framework relating to the care system in Scotland.

Incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots Law

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly recognises the central role played by parents and families in ensuring that children grow up healthy, happy and safe. It recognises that families need protection and assistance to support the rights and wellbeing of children. Incorporation of the UNCRC into Scots law would mean that all Scotland's public authorities would be required to take proactive steps to ensure the protection of children's rights. These rights include, for example:

  • the right for children not to be separated from their parents against their will (unless this is necessary for the best interests of the child);
  • the right, when separated from one or both parents, to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents (except if it is contrary to the child's best interests);
  • for those temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, the right to special protection and assistance provided by the State;
  • for those capable of forming their own views, the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting them, and for those views to be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity;
  • the right to appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians to help them raise children;
  • the right to a standard of living adequate for children's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development; and
  • the right to appropriate measures to promote children's physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration if they have been a victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts.

Incorporation would make it unlawful for public authorities, including the Scottish Government, to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements as set out in the Bill. Children, young people and their representatives would have a new ability to use the courts to enforce their rights.

Our UNCRC implementation action planincludes building the capacity for public authorities to take a child rights-based approach in the design and delivery of services and ensuring that children, young people, their families and all of Scottish society are aware of and understand the UNCRC. In our work to deliver the UNCRC we will:

  • develop guidance and materials needed to support the fulfilment of children's rights in practice, including Statutory Guidance on the duties on public authorities, within 6 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent;
  • consult on and publish a Children's Rights Scheme which will set out how Scottish Government will give better and further effect to the rights of children, again within 6 months of the Bill receiving Royal Assent;
  • launch a National Leadership Forum for Children's Rights by the end of June 2022.
  • develop, by the end of March 2023, a knowledge and skills framework to support capacity building in public services in taking a child's rights approach in practice to drive forward the culture change required; and
  • continue to promote the importance and adoption of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs) amongst bodies other than public authorities, as well as continuing work to improve CRWIA training and develop an impact evaluation process by the end of March 2023.

Chapter 17 Realigning Spend Toward Prevention

The Promise Scotland set out in 'The Money' and 'Follow the Money' that every year, Scotland invests £942 million in the care system and the universal services which can be associated with care costs a further £198 million per annum. Failures to accommodate the needs of children and young people result in poor outcomes in health, education and employment.

In addition to these poor outcomes, care experienced adults often require additional services to support them with the impacts of their negative experiences which is estimated to cost around £875 million per annum. Preventative spend is key to ensuring that children and young people achieve positive outcomes which is beneficial to them, their families and the wider economy.

We strongly support The Promise Scotland's work with local authorities on piloting Human and Economic Cost Modelling (HECM) and we will ensure that this work is linked to our broader ambition to create a wellbeing economy. This will benefit everyone by creating a society that is thriving across economic, social and environmental dimensions, and that delivers prosperity for Scotland's people and places.

Only through policy and financial alignment will we shift the balance of investment in families from crisis management towards prevention. Our ambition is that, from 2030, we will be investing at least 5% of all community-based health and social care spend in preventative whole family support measures that will enable us to create a Scotland where more children will only know care, compassion and love, and not a care system. At current levels of investment we estimate this to be around £500 million per year. The Whole Family Wellbeing Funding, set out in Chapter 1, is a big step forward on this journey to preventative spend.

Social Outcomes Contracting for the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund

Support for Keeping The Promise and improving the outcomes for children, young people and families extends beyond public and third sector ambition. We are exploring whether philanthropic investors would consider the opportunity to progress a social outcomes funding approach.

A Social Outcomes Contract means a contract where payments are only made by investors once outcomes have been achieved. A social outcomes fund is a funding mechanism that enables several social outcomes contracts to be developed and supported in parallel, under a common framework. It enables an approach that is fixed on the outcomes and therefore enables the flexibility to focus on the range of support the person really needs – e.g. parenting support, schools interventions, mental health support etc. Spanning delivery by more than one organisation, an outcomes fund allows projects to adapt to emerging issues and with a heavy emphasis on real-time data management and accountability.

We will explore the opportunity to undertake a social outcomes approach over the coming months with an aim to augmenting the impact of our Whole Family Wellbeing Funding through this innovative finance model in partnership with philanthropic investors.

North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership – Collective Leadership

North Ayrshire has the second highest rate of child poverty in Scotland (27.9 percent) and 41 percent of residents live in the most deprived areas compared to 20 percent of the Scotland population.

As part of the response to this, North Ayrshire have adopted 6 approaches across the Local Authority to support children and families in line with Keeping The Promise. They place the children and families at the heart of their approach, and work across teams and boundaries to provide support and better outcomes. There 6 approaches are:

  • Wellness Model
  • Locality Working – Multidisciplinary teams
  • School based Social Work Integrated Project
  • Residential Social Work Team
  • Integrated Universal Early Years' Service
  • Employability – We Work For Families

As an example, The Employability – We Work For Families approach is targeted at unemployed and low income parents and carers. Referrals are made through a health visitor or family nurse. The service provides intensive, person centred support to overcome barriers to employment, education and training. One example of this work in action involved:

A mum to 3 children was referred to the We Work For Families service by her health visitor had low self-esteem and confidence as well as poor mental health; childcare issues and household debt. Regular intensive support was provided by We Work For Families and other services and although there were periods when engaged was difficult Mum remained open to support from the service. This continued throughout the pandemic including support to make a college application, which led to success, and Mum started a HNC Childhood Practice Course in August 2021. Mum feels her confidence has increased and is now able to participate in activities with her children. 'I feel like I now have a purpose in life'.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We have an ambition that at least 5% of all community based health and social care spend will be invested in preventative whole family support measures by 2030. At current levels of investment we estimate that this will mean that by 2030 around £500 million per year will be redirected into preventative activity that will support our families
  • We will explore the opportunity to undertake a social outcomes funding approach over the coming months with an aim to introduce a social outcomes programme that will work in compliment to the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund.

Chapter 18 Data Mapping,Collection And Evaluation

Scotland's approach to data and monitoring currently splits individuals' lives into moments, often missing the opportunity to place outcomes firmly within the context of lived experiences and day to day lives. The Promise identifies a lack of understanding and focus on experiences and relationships, which, when coupled with disconnected system-focused data processes, actively creates stigmatising and triggering experiences for people moving through the system.

Scotland is striving to be the best place for children and young people to grow up. We know there are many factors that impact this ambition and, importantly, that affect the lives and wellbeing of families. This Implementation Plan, alongside other key transformational programmes including the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, must take these factors into account in all its efforts. The support that is provided, the services that are designed and delivered, the tools we use to monitor and evaluate, must always focus on what matters, ensuring that the experiences and outcomes of children and families are held centrally.

Improving outcomes for children and families requires transformational change across Scottish Government policy areas, national and local public authorities, communities, and Third Sector delivery partners. We have a clear understanding of the action needed (the 'what') and the values, principles, and approaches which make a positive difference (the 'how').

Scotland's National Performance Framework is at the root of Scotland's aims to create a more successful country; it is how we know if we are providing opportunities to all people living in Scotland; increasing the wellbeing of people living in Scotland; creating sustainable and inclusive growth; reducing inequalities and giving equal importance to economic, environmental and social progress. To provide the focus required for collective action, the framework sets out 'National Outcomes'. These outcomes describe the kind of Scotland we all want to live in.

The Promise was clear that whilst outcomes are important, it is the experiences and relationships that happen on the journey to those outcomes that really matter to children, young people and families and have long lasting consequences for their lives. Therefore, we must translate the national outcomes into something that is meaningful to lives so that we can understand if Scotland is truly the best place for children and young people to grow up. We must not allow our processes to ignore experience in favour of tracking outcomes.

The Children Young People and Families Framework

This work has begun with the development of an Outcomes Framework for Children, Young People and Families which will contribute toward a holistic understanding of what we mean by wellbeing, based on what children and families have told us matters, and rooted in GIRFEC and children's rights.

The Outcomes Framework plays a key part in providing the overarching strategic coherence needed, but it is not enough on its own. The outcomes approach will only add value if we commit to contextualise it within wider sources of data, information and evidence, where we consistently work to link local information to decision making and national monitoring.

Overview of the Children,Young People & Families Outcomes Framework
Image of overview of the Children, Young People & Families Outcomes Framework

Outcomes, Aims and Indicators

The Outcomes Framework includes 8 Wellbeing Outcomes, underpinned by a set of Shared Aims which set out in more detail what we need to work together on to achieve these outcomes.

The 8 Wellbeing Outcomes are interconnected – intended to be understood holistically not individually or in silos. For children and young people's wellbeing to flourish, all aspects of wellbeing (SHANARRI) must be in place and each Wellbeing Outcome has a descriptor which outlines the types of things relevant to each at a population level for babies, children, young people and families.

To start, a draft Core Wellbeing Indicator Set has been developed consisting of 21 indicators covering key aspects of wellbeing. The purpose of the set is to provide a high level and holistic overview of the state of wellbeing of children, young people and families in Scotland, highlighting whether desired long-term outcomes are being achieved, and identifying areas where further attention is required.

A set of Shared Aims sit underneath the 8 overarching Wellbeing Outcomes. These build more specifically on what it means to children, young people and families to have flourishing wellbeing. These Shared Aims are based on what children, young people and families have already told us matters most, based on views shared through a wide range of direct engagement, survey responses, and engagement reports. The engagement reports will focus on our progress to Keep The Promise, taking a more detailed approach than the 21 core wellbeing indicators.

This indicator set is designed to be used within local level reporting across Scotland through annual progress reporting on Children's Services Plans, and at a national level as part of reporting on wellbeing.

In reporting on the core wellbeing indicators, analysis will identify where there are significant differences in outcomes for particular groups of children and young people. This means that as well as identifying key trends, areas of success, and areas of concern within the Children, Young People and Families population, reporting will demonstrate how well Scotland is closing any 'wellbeing gaps'. This in turn helps to inform priority setting and adapt planning at both a local and national level. We know that there are significant limitations in the wellbeing data, therefore, the indicators cannot be used in isolation. To improve this, we will supplement core wellbeing indicators with other types of data and information to fill gaps. By using a broad range of data sources for different purposes and examining the broader context at a local level, we will be better equipped to identify areas of success or concern.

The indicator set will also facilitate more consistent reporting across children's service plans, with core indicators supplemented by other data as required, including other indicator sets, both higher level and more detailed. The indicator set is a first step in an ongoing process of data improvement, with recommendations for areas of future indicator development to address gaps in progress. Engagement with stakeholders to support a phased implementation of the framework is ongoing.

Widening from Outcomes to Experience

Monitoring progress towards outcomes requires data, information and evidence that provides an understanding of whether experiences are improving, or whether things are getting worse. Some of the data we have is good enough to do this, most of it is not. The Promise highlighted fundamental flaws in our data collection and analysis, most notably that the data we use to tell national stories of outcomes rarely includes the things that children and families said are important to them. Some of the tools we use reduce the experiences of children and families to single outputs that are not particularly meaningful in their lives. We often count the things that matter to the system, and use the best data we have available to do this, rather than beginning from a position of what matters and thinking critically about how we could monitor and measure whether children and families think their experiences are positive and their outcomes are met. This must begin with listening to our children and families.

Alongside the development of the Outcomes Framework, The Promise Data Map has been working to take what children and families told the Independent Care Review mattered to them to create a framework that local and national datasets across Scotland can be mapped onto. This mapping directly links the experiences of children and families with the types of data we typically use to tell the story of their wellbeing. It is surfacing the gaps in our data landscape which need to be filled with other types of data, information, and evidence, including those at local and hyperlocal levels. By combining The Promise Data Map with the Outcomes Framework, we aim to expand our national processes for monitoring, understanding and improving to include the experiences of children and families at every level, recognising that the solution does not necessarily lie in more national data collection.

Drawing on learning from the evolving findings of The Promise Data Map we will:

  • Ensure that data, evidence and information about experiences and relationships are prioritised in the way we monitor progress towards keeping The Promise and used to give context to indicators, ensuring a focus on what matters to children and families.
  • Support local areas to develop their own use of such types of data in their reporting and monitoring and explore methods of using experiential data at local and national levels to inform improvement, keeping the perspective of children and families at the forefront of how services are designed and delivered.

The Promise Collective

We know there is already a lot of work going on across Scotland to improve the lives of children and families. For The Promise to be kept, we recognise that we must play a key role in alignment and cohesion across this landscape and ensure that all policies, programmes, and investments are joined up and focused on the things that really matter to children and families.

Similarly, data, information and evidence must reflect what matters and be used to inform decision making at every level. To begin this work, we will establish The Promise Collective co-chaired with The Promise Scotland to support alignment and cohesion of activities. The Promise Collective will be convened as a strategic forum to ensure alignment of all Scottish Government funded delivery and improvement initiatives that are working to Keep The Promise. We are yet to fully scope the role, remit, and membership of this group, however it is anticipated their work will:

  • Understand the service design and improvement assets and resources availableto support the change, innovation, improvement, and service design activity required to Keep The Promise.
  • Run in parallel to the development of the Outcomes Framework and aim to fully understand the current improvement landscape, surfacing all work underway to support and deliver transformational change across Scotland.
  • Develop ground up approaches using service design and improvement methodologies, utilising outputs produced by The Promise Scotland. Upon agreement of joint aims and approaches a Governance and reporting structure will be established to report to Ministers.
  • Focus on data,information and evidenceat national, local and individual levels, working to identify sources to supplement the wellbeing outcomes and national indicators and link local data, information and evidence with national frameworks where appropriate.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will develop a subset of indicators which will support the National Outcome "we grow up loved,safe,respected and that we realise out full potential".These indicators will be monitored to track our progress in Keeping The Promise.
  • We will establish The Promise Collective co-chaired with The Promise Scotland to support alignment and cohesion of activities. This group will be convened as a strategic forum to ensure alignment of all Scottish Government funded delivery and improvement initiatives that are working to Keep The Promise We are currently scoping a full remit of this group and we will hold the first meeting by the end of the Parliamentary year.



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