Scotland's Children - The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance: Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and Their Families

Guidance and regulations on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995

Scotland's Children
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance
Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and Their Families

Chapter 3 Providing Information about Services

1. Local authorities are required to prepare and publish information about relevant services which they provide for or in respect of children, including services for disabled children or children otherwise affected by disability. The Secretary of State has directed that local authorities publish such information by 1 April 1998. This date is the same as that by which their first children's services plans must be published. Information should include details of services provided by voluntary organisations or other persons if these are services which the local authority also has the power to provide as relevant services, and if the local authority considers it appropriate to publicise them.

Section 20

2. Relevant services are services for children provided by a local authority under, or by virtue of, Part II of the Act, or any of the enactments mentioned in section 5 (1B) (a) to (o) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. These enactments include legislation relating to adoption, fostering, disability and divorce. Relevant services include those for children in need and children requiring compulsory measures of supervision because of their need for protection, because of dangerous or offending behaviour or family breakdown. For example published information could describe local provision for accommodation, day care, advice, assistance, counselling and the exceptional circumstances in which financial assistance might be made available. The local authority should consider specific information relevant to the particular needs of disabled children or those affected by disability. Information about services provided by other agencies in the voluntary and independent sectors will give families a clearer picture of what help might be available to them and may enable them to exercise greater choice in deciding where to go for advice and assistance.

3. Local authorities should provide general information about services available, but also make available more specific information for recipients or users of specific services, for example, for parents of children in foster care. There will be a need for information for children. The social work department may be well placed to co-ordinate the preparation of public information but the task is a corporate one for the local authority. Other departments will make an important contribution or prepare their own information about services for children. In publicising particular services the local authority should include information about what needs they are designed to meet and how families can gain access to them.

4. Many local authorities now publish the standards of service that the public can expect to receive from their local departments. Statements of standards are benchmarks against which users can assess the quality of the service they receive.

5. Families who use services are themselves a valuable source of information about ways to make public information accessible and interesting. Both adults and children can inform planners about the kinds of information, layout, language they find helpful. Groups which work with or represent service users and disabled people can make useful comments on the kind of information which is needed and should be consulted. Local authorities should also consult members of ethnic minority communities about how to present information about services, local needs for translation of public information and interpreting services, and distribution so that information reaches its targeted audience. Their information needs may be different from those of the majority community.

6. Information should be

  • easy to read and understand
  • reviewed and updated regularly to ensure accuracy
  • accessible in a range of formats which take into account the needs of those with communication difficulties, visual impairment or those who cannot read
  • available in languages other than English and in content should reflect the needs and concerns of different local cultural and religious communities.

7. Information should be made available in a variety of public places used by children and their families, including GP surgeries, children's hearings centres, hospital outpatient departments and clinics, schools, libraries, community centres, nurseries, citizen's advice bureaux and law centres, Benefits Agencies and places of worship, where appropriate. There may be a need to target particular settings to reach children who are disabled or affected by disability or particular communities. Local authorities might consider producing a local handbook of information, with users, other statutory agencies and local voluntary and independent providers.

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