National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021

This guidance describes the responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children and will support the care and protection of children.

Ministerial Foreword

This publication is also available as an interactive version.

The safety and wellbeing of children and young people, including unborn babies is paramount. Our children and young people have the right to be protected from all forms of harm and abuse.

This Guidance, which informs the development of local multi-agency child protection procedures, processes and training, will support the care and protection of children across Scotland.

The Guidance has been developed collaboratively, with a National Guidance Steering Group providing strategic oversight. I am very grateful to Steering Group members for their time and expertise. Development has involved extensive engagement with stakeholder groups and individuals, to ensure that full account is taken of developments and new thinking. It incorporates our understanding of best practice and 'what works' from various sources, including practitioner and stakeholder experience, inspections, research and learning from Significant Case Reviews.

Best practice in engaging with children, young people and families has been captured and principles embedded throughout. Experiences and views have been gathered through practitioners and through direct engagement with children, young people and families. The Guidance incorporates these and they have also informed the development of the series of Practice Insights, published alongside the Guidance, ensuring a central focus on the child's voice and perspective.

This Guidance is for all practitioners who support children and families whether they work in health, police, third sector, local authority or education settings. The approaches set out depend on a culture and ethos which recognises that whilst there are specific responsibilities associated with certain professional roles, everyone has a job in making sure children 'are alright'. The Guidance underlines the responsibilities of adult services to consider the needs of children and their parents where vulnerability and protection needs are identified.

The integration of child protection within the Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) continuum and framing responses to child protection concerns within this national practice model is a critical feature of this revised Guidance. There is a clear articulation of the importance of GIRFEC to protecting children, particularly in recognising that all children must receive the right help at the right time.

The Guidance has a strengthened focus on children's rights, engagement and collaboration with families, and on building on existing strengths. There is a stronger emphasis on the range of issues that impact on the wellbeing and safety of children, including the importance of assessing the impact of all structural factors such as poverty and poor housing as part of all care and protection planning. The intention is to further support more holistic approaches that reduce stressors on families and communities to help reduce the risk of harm to children and young people. Implementation of this Guidance will support greater consistency in what children and families can expect in terms of support and protection across Scotland. I would like to thank all those involved in its development.

We have never had a better opportunity to make Scotland the best place for children to grow up. This Guidance is not an end point but an important step in realising this goal.

Clare Haughey
Minister for Children and Young People



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