National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on the 21 September 2022


Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People (Chair)

  • Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

  • Eddie Docherty, Executive Nurse Director, NHS Lanarkshire

  • DCS Samantha Faulds, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland

  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA)

  • Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government 

  • Caren McLean, Head of Protection & Permanence, Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS)

  • Tom McNamara, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice, Scottish Government

  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)

  • Angela Scott, Chief Executive, Aberdeen City Council, Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)

  • Ruth Sills, Child Protection Programme Lead, CELCIS

  • Alan Small, National Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland (CPCScotland)

  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University 


  • Stephen Bermingham, Head of Practice & Policy, attending on behalf of Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland.

  • Cara Cooper, Unit Head, Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) attending on behalf of Jane Moffat, Deputy Director for Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government.

  • Guch Dhillon, Head of Scrutiny, attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland

  • Dr Eddie Doyle, Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics, attending on behalf of Professor Sir Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, and Mairi MacPherson, Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Scottish Government

  • Alexandra Foster, Midwifery Professional Adviser, Scottish Government attending on behalf of Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government

  • Joan Tranent, Social Work Scotland, attending on behalf of Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland

  • Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate, attending on behalf of Edith MacIntosh, Executive Director of Strategy & Improvement, Care Directorate


  • Alistair Lauder, Policy Officer, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)

  • Sian Robson, Policy Officer, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government

  • Robert Scott, Team Leader, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government

  • Jenny Stenton, Policy Lead Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and Child Criminal (Secretariat)


  • Claire Burns, Director, CELCIS & Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures

  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government

  • Patsy Kay, Policy and Engagement Lead, Children’s Services Reform

  • Angela Latta, Professional Social Work Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government

  • Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Specialist, CELCIS

  • Val de Souza, Chair of the National Bairns' Hoose Governance Group 

  • Lesley Swanson, Bairns’ Hoose Unit Head, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government


  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive, NHS Forth Valley

  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland

  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland

  • Brian Houston, Head of Support, The Promise Scotland

  • Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland

  • SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour

  • Lindsay MacDougall, Head of Child Protection, Scottish Government

  • Mairi MacPherson, Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Scottish Government

  • Edith McIntosh, Interim Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate

  • Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government

  • Jane Moffat, Deputy Director for Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government

  • Professor Sir Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government

  • Michael Wood, General Secretary of ADES and Professor of Education at the University of Dundee

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed the group members, delegates, and guests to the meeting, and noted apologies. There were no new members present.

Update – arrivals from Ukraine

Iona Colvin reported that the number of arrivals from Ukraine continues to increase. There are issues around unaccompanied minors, including approximately 25 children and young people who applied to the Scottish Super Sponsor Scheme before it closed but who have not yet identified a host.

An increasing number of children (mainly 16-17 year olds) are arriving with parents who then return to Ukraine, or travel back and forth to take care of elderly relatives in Ukraine. Work is ongoing with the UK Government who are proposing to use private foster care arrangements. The Scottish Government are working with COSLA and Social Work Scotland to support these families. Iona thanked partners working with the Scottish Government on solutions to this situation, particularly Aberlour. The Chair added her thanks to these partners.  

Update – Chief Officers Leadership Event (COLE)

Ruth Sills informed members that the Chief Officers Leadership Event being chaired by Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government, will take place online on 28 September 2022. There are currently over 30 confirmed attendees including Local Authority Chief Executives, Police Commanders, and Health Board Chief Executives. Booking will remain open until the event.

There will be three themed sessions at the event:

  • Session 1 – self-evaluation and learning from the COVID-19 pandemic led by Gregory Colvin
  • Session 2 – Bairns’ Hoose Standards and wider developments presented by Val de Souza and Lesley Swanson
  • Session 3 – data, delivered through a dialogue with Alex McTier and Alison White

There will be Q and A sessions after the themed sessions and a panel discussion at the end of the event. Ruth will seek Chief Officers’ suggestions for future events and review whether to include public protection as well as child protection.

Minute and actions from the last meeting

Members were content to agree the minutes and actions from the last meeting. All actions from the meeting of 22 June have been completed or are in progress with the exception of Action 3 on UNCRC.

At the June meeting it was agreed to keep members updated on UNCRC developments. The Chair advised that amendments are currently being drafted to the Bill to resolve the ongoing legislative competence issue. These amendments are in line with the Deputy First Minister’s statement to Parliament on 24 May. The Scottish Government are engaging parliamentary authorities about the timetable and process for the Reconsideration Stage.

It is hoped that the reconsidered Bill will be passed before the end of the calendar year, but that will depend on whether the relevant Committees would like to schedule time to scrutinise the amendments. The Scottish Government continues to engage with the UK Government on the proposed amendments, given the UK Law Officers’ power under the Scotland Act to refer a reconsidered Bill to the Supreme Court.

Next steps will include engagement with the Presiding Officer to determine whether the proposed amendments to the Bill are admissible at Reconsideration Stage. Once Ministers are content with the final amendments, a motion will be made to Parliament asking for the Bill to be reconsidered. The topic will be revisited at the next meeting.

Horizon scanning/emerging risks

National Care Service update

Joanna MacDonald provided an update on the National Care Service (NCS). Professor Brigid Daniel is chairing a Research Steering Group which will gather evidence on the most effective configuration of services to improve outcomes for children and families, to inform Ministers’ decisions on the NCS.

There has been discussion at the Collective Leadership Group about co-design work for the NCS as it is essential that children and young people are involved from the outset. This work will be based on models used for The Promise. Members were reassured that the timelines around children’s services and justice research were collaborative.

Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Specialist at CELCIS presented the research methodology that will be used to answer the question “How do we ensure that children, young people and families get the help they need, when they need it?” in relation to NCS.

The research consists of five strands:

  • Strand 1: a rapid evidence review of published literature on integration of children’s services. CELCIS estimate that there are 100–200 articles available. This strand will give broad knowledge to take forward.
  • Strand 2: a ‘Deep Dive’ to examine the approaches to integration and delivery of children’s services in 4-5 other countries. It will highlight challenge, opportunities, outcomes, and learning. Countries selected will be comparable to Scotland in terms of income, approach to rights and government legislation. It will involve reviewing literature and conversations with relevant individuals in these countries.
  • Strand 3: a mapping study to explore the impact of integrated service delivery on a range of outcomes. The 32 Local Authority areas in Scotland will be grouped into those where child protection services are highly, moderately and non-integrated with Health and Social Care Partnerships (HSCPs) and Integrated Joint Boards (IJBs), and differences between these groups on a range of outcomes will be evaluated, charting back over at least 5 years.
  • Strand 4: participation and engagement of the workforce. There will be an online survey of the national Children’s Services workforce and a survey in a Word template of Children’s Services leaders asking for colleagues’ experiences of integration.
  • Strand 5: targeted focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders. The participants and topics for discussion will depend on the findings from Strands 1 to 4.

Strands 1-4 will be progressed over the next six months until March 2023 and will inform where efforts are best focused for the qualitative research in strand 5. Strand 5 will be completed between April and June 2023 with a report written by September 2023. Individual reports of strands 1-4 will be published in the interim.

Angela Scott commented that this is a very useful piece of work. As Chair of the SOLACE group, Angela offered for SOLACE to support this work. She highlighted an evaluation study on police and fire services reform that evidenced the importance of leadership, trust and relationships, as well as the journey of the systems being analysed. There is instability in systems, for example due to staff turnover and organisational context, which impacts outcomes. Angela offered to link in with Alex on finding a way to bring such considerations in to this research (Action 1 – Angela Scott).

Neil Hunter commented that there are intermediate variables to consider in the integration model in Strand 4. Examples might be the current model of integration with HSCP not being the same as NCS, relative resourcing against need, decision making structures and the degree of strategic prioritisation of children’s services within current partnerships. Neil agreed that it is important to account for leadership. Neil suggested that before publication of reports, there could be a discussion of what the results of each strand are showing us and what can be concluded from them. He offered to help with this work if needed.

Alex McTier thanked Angela and Neil for their for comments. These concerns highlight why the first six months will involve rapid work to give more time for the qualitative work of the fifth stand, which will provide more detail of what is happening in local areas. In relation to Neil’s point, Alex confirmed that contextual indicators such as leadership and sense of cohesion will be built into the model in strand 4.

The Chair asked for regular updates on this and stated that it should be discussed again at the December meeting (Action 2 - Secretariat).

Cost of living crisis

The Chair noted that the Programme for Government (PfG) 2022-23 was published on 6 September. It sets out steps to mitigate the impact of the crisis on individuals and businesses and outlines a range of support for those in need. The Scottish Government is already committed to measures worth almost £3 billion this year that will help with rising costs and will do everything within its power to tackle this crisis, but the UK Government has the key powers to do so. The UK Government made an announcement on energy and businesses today, with further announcements expected this week.

The cost crisis puts more families and children at risk of poverty, which increases the risk of harm to children. It is therefore right that this group considers what actions we can take within our child protection remit.

Robert Scott noted that SallyAnn who was going to speak to this issue has not joined the call, so suggested that Secretariat can take on board any issues members raise if needed.

Jackie Irvine asked how the cost crisis will impact on delivery of the Promise. We are dealing with families who are new to social work for whom the cost of living is significant. The Chair stated that this is a situation we have to be alive to across Government and that we will come back to it in the coming months (Action 3 - Secretariat).

Alan Small informed members that he has asked for the cost crisis to be raised at the next CLG meeting as he is worried about the impact on the child protection system but also on families before children get into the system. More families will end up in poverty due to this crisis and will require support from services, many will be families who didn’t need that support in the past. This will be regular item on the CLG agenda.

Workstream tracker – paper 1

Angela Scott noted that the Scottish Government has appointed Dame Sue Bruce to look at inspection of social care services. She asked if there is scope for this group to support this work by looking at child protection inspection. She also asked how we can use the insight from Prof Daniels’ work to shape the workplan of this group. We need to understand what our priorities are over the next five years: there are significant pieces of work that this group could support and that could inform our plan. Do we need to do a bit of work offline on the workplan?

The Chair asked Secretariat to do a stocktake, looking at workstreams, membership and direction for this group (Action 4 - Secretariat).

Collective Leadership Group role and remit – paper 2

There were no comments on this paper.

National Child Protection Guidance implementation – paper 3

Joanna MacDonald noted that it has been one year since the Guidance launched. An incredible amount of work has been done and there is more to do. The next meeting of the National Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group will be in person next week. The group will look at more challenging areas and how to collaborate over the next year. Joanna thanked everyone involved for their work on this. The Chair added her thanks.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children – paper 4

Laura Caven said that it would be helpful for COSLA and the Scottish Government to work together on the next UASC paper. This paper covers a lot of the Scottish Government work and Laura would like to include more COSLA work in it. Robert Scott said that Scottish Government would be very happy to involve COSLA and they will pick this up (Action 5 – Robert Scott/Siân Morland).

JII and Bairns’ Hoose – paper 6

Lesley Swanson introduced Paper 6 and noted key milestones since the last meeting of this group. Healthcare Improvement Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have launched a 12-week consultation on the draft Bairns’ Hoose Standards which closes on 4 November 2022 and are carrying out other engagement as part of the consultation. The intended publication date of the Standards is spring 2023. Val de Souza is now in post and the inaugural meeting of the Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group will be on 12 October.

The next steps for Bairns’ Hoose delivery include preparing a phased pathfinder approach to take learning from existing multi-agency settings. The team will work with Scottish Government Analysts collecting data from the survey conducted in the summer. Structured interviews will be carried out with respondents to inform the development of the next phase of the pathfinder work in 2023 and 2024.

Standards will be trialled in multi-agency sites and evaluated. Good practice examples will form the basis of broader pilots in 2024-25, allowing for lessons to be learned in a delivery context. Learning from SCIM pilots and JII practice will be included.

The team are looking to develop and publish a participation and engagement plan for how to involve children and young people’s lived experiences in the next few months. This will inform the design and delivery of the national model and the governance structure.

National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group

Val de Souza gave a presentation on the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group. Val is focused on listening and finding the national starting point in terms of the following aspects.

Stakeholder engagement:

  • engaging key players, statutory and voluntary organisations, and holding discussions with children and young people
  • Val has been in conversation with Laura Lundy in regards to her children and young people participation model
  • she has also been in contact with Fiona Dyer from the Children and Young People's Centre for Justice about the context around the Age of Criminal Responsibility, human rights and arguments for broadening the agenda
  • there has also been engagement with international stakeholders. The Group are now members of a European network, in conversations with Denmark and Belgium.

Standards development – listening and supporting:

  • Val has observed a binary landscape where leaders are seeking direction
  • legislation is seen by some as a way forward, while others suggest we need to be iterative, encouraging and guiding when developing the programme
  • some people feel the model should be for children who have been harmed, others think it should include children who have caused harm
  • there are differing views and aspirations around ACR
  • some stakeholders would prefer to have all services within the same physical environment, others would not
  • evidence vs. experience: should we move from an adversarial to an inquisitorial approach?
  • some have commented that we should be flexible about the development of the model, others have said we should be more purist about the model
  • some have said we should aim for the highest possible standard, others have suggested aiming for a better experience for the child
  • the important thing is to create a shared vision for the Governance Group and the work they will take forward

Establishing a Governance Group and Framework:

  • membership of the Governance Group has been agreed and the Group will have its first meeting on the 12 October 2022. Enthusiasm around the agenda is high. Terms of reference have been drafted.
  • participation of children and young people will be through a loop of communication. Val stressed the importance that their voices are heard.
  • a Governance Framework and various workstreams are needed: design and deliver; participation of children and young people; recovery; enablers and stabilisers
  • there is a lot of good learning that can be drawn on such as from SCIM, Children 1st and the Equally Safe Multi-Agency Centre (ESMAC) in the East
  • recovery is quite patchy nationally so there will be a group specifically focussed on this
  • the framework will consider stabilisers that will support the work: leadership, HR strategy, corporate management and senior leadership team etc.

Collaborative Advantage approach:

  • facilitated workshops are being set up with the members of the Governance Group to establish a single, shared vision and to better understand stakeholders’ working environments
  • the aim is to do the very best for the children and families of Scotland
  • the starting point is around leadership and relationships, not systems
  • Val is keen to establish a shared vision at the outset rather than mediating further down the line
  • trauma-informed practice must be embedded

Participation and engagement of children and young people:

  • it is vital that children and families’ voices are listened to, and incorporated into everything that we are doing. Children and Young People’s voices will be a standing item on every Governance Group workstream.
  • children and young people will be asked how they want to engage with the group and with the Chair

Leadership – Programme for Government, resources, pace and direction:

  • Bairns’ Hoose is mentioned in the Programme for Government twice
  • it is recognised that there will be ambiguity and change, so there is a need for leadership to be agile and supportive in progressing the shared vision
  • resources may be a source of tension throughout the journey
  • it is the Group’s gift to deliver the programme they are all so passionate and ambitious about

Angela Scott said that she was struck by comments about agility and resource being a tension. She noted that Aberdeen City Council are trying to move Bairns’ Hoose forward and join it with work on The Promise, family support, the Family Wellbeing Fund and the possibility of NCS, and not to do any of this in isolation. It’s the same capacity at local level delivering all these changes. There is a question around the sequencing and synchronisation of all of this. There is a lack of clarity on geographical coverage of NCS and Bairns’ Hoose that’s stopping regional partners moving forward. If there is agility and scope for resolving some resource tension, we could move around that. Angela noted areas also have to refresh Integrated Children’s Services Plans (ICSPs) so there needs to be a clear programme of work for Bairns’ Hoose in 2023-26 in relation to these.

Val said that there is a lot of work taking place within the Children and Families’ Directorate and sequencing is being considered. The delivery of Bairns’ Hoose by 2025 was reconsidered to beyond 2027 after listening to try to incorporate interdependencies and what can be done locally.

Alan Small reported hearing through CPCScotland how stretched people are due to competing agendas or interdependencies. Val held a workshop with CPC Scotland and picked up these comments.

Lesley Swanson said that Val will set up a workshop in November with the Chairs of Chief Officer public protection groups to discuss sequencing, geographical boundaries and what factors are present in different areas. Val and her team are listening to areas including the islands and rural areas and considering critical mass to determine boundaries. There is the potential of having hubs to deliver services. The main focus is what is in the best interest of the child. Val noted there are already regional collaborations for SCIM that could be a good starting point and that Louise Long, who is a member of the Governance Group can provide a link to public protection Chief Officer Groups.

Angela Scott asked whether strand 3 of Professor Daniel’s work could be used to inform which multi-agency sites could be used for pilots of Bairns’ Hoose. Val said that the more we can join this up the better.

Lesley Swanson informed the group that the team is developing further engagement with Health, with an event on 4 October. Lesley noted the team is considering learning from a University of Edinburgh evaluation of Children 1st. She advised that the Bairns’ Hoose team will work with colleagues to link timelines around Bairns’ Hoose and NCS. Caren noted she would raise this point with Claire Burns.

The Bairns’ Hoose team are presenting to senior leaders at the Chief Officers’ Learning Event on 28 September. Lesley offered link into any other members’ event. They are willing to listen and engage and shape development for the pathfinder phase. Eddie noted a link with health would be appreciated.

If members have anything further to raise, get in touch with Lesley or Val.

The Chair noted that this work has progressed a lot in the short time Val has been in post. We will invite Val back to discuss the progress at a future meeting (Action 6 - Secretariat).

Any other business

The next meeting will take place on Wednesday 7 December 2022. There will be a discussion around NCS. If members wish to suggest input please inform the group secretariat.

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