11 Improving outcomes for looked after children
Progress to date
- We are working with Who Cares? Scotland to develop and deliver a national training programme for corporate parents. The aim of the training is to raise awareness of the duties and responsibilities corporate parents have for looked after children, young people and care leavers and to highlight the challenges this group of children and young people face.
- We supported Who Cares? Scotland to roll out 'Give Me A Chance', Scotland's first anti-stigma campaign specifically designed to address the misconceptions and negative attitudes towards those who have experience of the care system.
- Following publication of the 'National Residential Child Care Initiative' ( NRCCI) we established the Looked After Children Strategic Implementation Group ( LACSIG). This group is leading and driving forward a programme of work to help implement national policy, focussing on the key areas of action identified in the NRCCI report.
- Following on from the Securing Our Future Initiative ( SOFI) and NRCCI recommendations, 12 beds in the secure unit estate were mothballed during 2009-10. A children's services national commissioning steering group was established in December 2009. This group brought together the Scottish Government, COSLA, providers, regulators and other interested parties to agree a service specification and national contract for secure care services. The secure care contract was awarded on 1 July 2011 for one year initially with the option to extend for a further year.
- We fund the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland ( CELCIS) which is focussing on providing consultation services, research and development projects, qualifications and professional development opportunities, and policy advice and direct implementation work.
- We have created Scotland's Adoption Register in order to improve the opportunities for looked after children to be adopted.
- We have launched the National Training, Advice and Support Service for kinship carers which will act as a national kinship representative organisation and will offer sustainable support to kinship carers, local authorities and other agencies.
- We have developed the GIRFEC National Practice Model for use by all practitioners working with children and families, including looked after children. The model encourages an outcomes-focussed approach to assessment analysis and planning for individual children. When implemented, the approach supports work with looked after children to improve and measure their outcomes in the eight areas of wellbeing - safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included.
- The GIRFEC approach also supports a planning framework within which any specific activity - for example, a care and permanence plan - can fit.
- We will Implement our Care and Permanence Plan, with a focus on streamlining and reducing the obstacles which can affect safe, stable and secure placements for looked after children. This plan takes forward the commitments outlined in the Scottish Government's response to the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration ( SCRA) report on care and permanence last summer.
- Throughout 2012 we will implement our Throughcare and Aftercare Plan to improve outcomes by strengthening Corporate Parenting. As part of this work we will:
- review the Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 and associated guidance;
- revise the pathway plan/assessment materials to ensure they align with GIRFEC principles;
- update 'We Can and Must Do Better' and 'These Are Our Bairns' training materials.
We will seek the views of young people throughout this work.
- We will develop a national contract for use by those commissioning residential services. The contract will set clear expectations about the quality of care and outcomes for children. The contract will also embed the GIRFEC principles of working together in the best interests of children and young people. Consultation will ensure that the views of young people are taken into account.
- We have asked the Scottish Social Services Council ( SSSC) to develop standards for a degree level course for residential child care practitioners.
- We have commissioned research on the role of external management in residential care which will also focus on supervision and support for practitioners.
- There continue to be concerns around the lack of improvement in educational outcomes and school attendance for children who are looked after at home. We are making recommendations to LACSIG for further consultation and possible research to identify where the gaps in support exist.
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