Holistic whole family support: routemap and national principles

A routemap for delivering the vision and principles of holistic whole family support to promote consistent standards of practice across Scotland which will help to deliver improved outcomes for children, young people and families.

Routemap and National Principles of Holistic Whole Family Support

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Collective Leadership Group (CLG) (Coronavirus (COVID-19): Children and Families Collective Leadership Group - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)) was established. It developed a Vision and Blueprint for Holistic Family Support in Scotland and subsequently a sub group – the Family Support Delivery Group (FSDG) - was established which developed this Routemap for delivering the Vision and developed Principles of Holistic Whole Family Support to promote consistent standards of practice across Scotland which will help to deliver improved outcomes for children, young people and families.

In Scotland, Family Support is broadly understood to be a range of services to help families meet their individual needs. The aim is to improve families' wellbeing by providing advice and support to enable them to avoid crisis. The support is provided by a range of organisations (agencies, professionals, the third sector, trusted partners).

Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) is the Scottish Government's approach to supporting children and young people. GIRFEC is a strengths- based approach, working in partnership with families, and providing an early offer of support to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

The Scottish Government is committed to delivering The Promise, supporting families to stay together in a safe and loving environment, and reducing the amount of children who are taken into care.

Where are we going?

Every family that needs support gets the right family support at the right time to fulfil children's right to be raised safely in their own families, for as long as it is needed*

What needs to change to get us there?

Children and families at the centre:

  • Meaningful and ongoing participation in service design which ensures choice and control for families
  • Shift to needs and rights based planning and participation
  • Support is stigma-free, needs/rights-led even at universal level (does not have the same level of activity across the board)

Availability and Access:

  • Universally accessible early help and support
  • Support delivery where and when suits families
  • Better collective awareness of available support
  • Investment & innovation to deliver
  • Multiple points of access in communities

Whole System Approach/Joined Up Support:

  • Shared accountability for whole system/ joined up approach
  • Non-siloed aligned and proportionate FS funding that matches scale of need
  • Transforming Commissioning and Procurement (Planning, service design and purchasing)
  • Expand use of locally-based multi-agency services co-ordinating support

Workforce and Culture:

  • Clear & shared understanding of families across whole system
  • Address power dynamics
  • Empowerment for innovation
  • Additional capacity
  • Support for skill development
  • Development of holistic workforce approach
  • Mechanisms to share good practice nationally

Aim supported by and delivers on (and therefore need to ensure) GIRFEC/The Promise/Transforming Outcomes for CYPF/The Feeley Review/ Children's Services Planning Partnerships/ UNCRC/ National Performance Framework/Child Poverty Action Plans

Evidence based and data led

Strong collective leadership at all levels

*As per the Leadership Group vision and blueprint

What does success look like?

Children and families at the centre

  • Children & family inclusion in designing models of accessible family support in communities;
  • Families provided with choice about support & that support is strengths- based;
  • Families always involved in decisions that affect them;
  • Children's Services Plans/ planning relating to children is rights- based & start from what children & families need

Availability and access

  • All families know how to, and are able to access multi-sectoral, holistic, whole family support (see Blueprint for principles e.g. rights- based, trauma- informed, strengths- based, etc.)
  • No 'missing middle' between universal and statutory services.
  • Significant investment in sustaining innovative services so that support is consistent & relationship- based: complete system transformation.
  • Identification of test, learn and develop sites & scale up where successful.

Support and services that deliver on the Blueprint principles

  • Support is accessible in one place and joined together, limiting the number of professionals and 'services' involved in families-- not multiple services for multiple problems for the same family.
  • Commissioning & procurement is rights- based, outcomes- focused, collaborative rather than competitive & works for children and families.
  • No duplication or siloed funding.
  • Best practice is recognised & scaled- up where appropriate.
  • Structural challenges (such as poverty or poor housing) are taken into account.

Leadership, relationships and culture

  • Children & families feel and are recognised as equal partners whose voices and views are listened to and taken into account.
  • Shared understanding across all sectors of families' rights (incl. right to be safe, to be together, to be involved in decisions that affect them) and how to realise them in context of family support.

National Framework Principles of Holistic Whole Family Support

Non-stigmatising: Support should be promoted and provided free from stigma and judgement. Services should be as normalised as accessing universal services.

Whole Family: Support should be rooted in GIRFEC and wrapped around about the whole family. This requires relevant join up with adult services & whole system, place based, preventative addressing inequalities.

Needs based: Support should be tailored to fit around each individual family, not be driven by rigid services or structures. It should cover the spectrum of support from universal services, more tailored support for wellbeing and intensive support (to prevent or in response to statutory interventions). Creative approaches to support should be encouraged.

Assets and community based: Support should be empowering, building on existing strengths within the family and wider community. Families should be able to 'reach in' not be 'referred to'. Support must be explicitly connected to locations that work for local families and the community, such as schools, health centres, village halls and sports centres.

Timely and Sustainable: Flexible, responsive and proportionate support should be available to families as soon as they need it, and for as long as it is required, adapting to changing needs.

Promoted: Families should have easy, well understood routes of access to support. They should feel empowered to do so, and have choice about the support they access to ensure it meets their needs.

Take account of families' voice: At a strategic and individual level, children and families should be meaningfully involved in the design, delivery, evaluation and continuous improvement of services. Support should be based on trusted relationships between families and professionals working together with mutual respect to ensure targeted and developmental support.

Collaborative and Seamless: Support should be multi-agency and joined-up across services, so families don't experience multiple 'referals' or inconsistent support.

Skilled and supported workforce: Support should be informed by an understanding of attachment, trauma, inequality and poverty. Staff should be supported to take on additional responsibilities, and trusted to be innovative in responding to the needs of families.

Underpinned by Children's Rights: Children's rights should be the funnel through which every decision and support service is viewed.


Email: wholefamilywellbeing@gov.scot

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