2.1 GIRFEC is the national approach to improving the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland which:
- puts the best interests of the child or young person at the heart of decision making;
- takes an holistic approach to the wellbeing of a child;
- builds on strengths and capacities of children, young people and their families to improve wellbeing;
- advocates preventative work and early intervention to support children, young people and their families, and, wherever possible to reduce the need for statutory interventions.
2.2 The GIRFEC approach has been tested and developed across Scotland over a number of years. This has built on a period of evolution in children's services towards more integrated, child-centred design and delivery. The role of the Named Person was devised following feedback from parents in Highland Region during the GIRFEC Pathfinder between 2006 -2009. Parents had said: they wanted a single contact point to go to for advice, help and support; they did not want this to be a faceless stranger; they did not want to have to repeat their story to several different officials or attend several different meetings to say the same thing. Central to the project were common procedures and processes for sharing concerns about a child, recording information, and constructing and implementing a plan around any support needed.
2.3 The pathfinder brought significant improvements to children and young people and their families, reducing the need for statutory intervention in children's and families' lives. At the same time, it delivered improvements for the services working with children and families. An independent evaluation of the Pathfinder showed 75% time saving for meetings involving professionals; 50% reduction in social work caseload; and consistent fall in offence referrals to the Children's Reporter. The evaluation also showed parents and families welcomed the approach and understood better why and how help was to be delivered.
2.4 The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, passed by Parliament in February last year, sets out a new legal framework within which services will work together to support children, young people and families. A key element of the legislation will be the introduction of the Named Person service and the Child's Plan. These duties in the Act will be commenced on 31 August 2016, and as part of the preparation, draft guidance explaining how local authorities, health boards and others should be carrying out the duties was drafted and presented for full public consultation.
2.5 To further support the consultation the Scottish Government held three regional events in Glasgow, Perth and Edinburgh which sought views on the guidance from those who will have statutory duties under the Act. The events were attended by nearly 500 representatives from different organisations, including Local authorities, Health, third sector and the Police. Engagement has continued beyond the formal consultation period and is on-going as we approach implementation of the GIRFEC provisions.
Email: Carole Campariol-Scott