Secure care pathway and standards: children's rights and wellbeing impact assessment

A children's rights and wellbeing impact assessment (CRWIA) for the secure care pathway and standards which provide all practitioners supporting children who are in or on the edge of secure care with clearer expectations that will improve practice.

Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment

Children's Rights Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) Title: Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland

Publication date: October 2020

Summary of policy aims and desired outcomes

The standards have been designed to answer the immediate calls to action voiced by children and young people in the Secure Care in Scotland: Young Peoples Voice paper published in 2017. The standards provide a 'future proofed' vision to drive forward the transformational change of secure care in Scotland and delivers on the Scottish Government's commitment to develop National Standards for secure care.

It is anticipated the policy and measures will have a positive impact on the experiences and outcomes of children in and on the edges of secure care. The standards will drive up the quality of care by ensuring all organisations involved in the child's journey are aware of what is expected at each stage before, during and after they leave secure care.

The aim of the policy is to drive up standards of care, enhance the experiences of young people in and on the edges of secure care and ultimately improve outcomes for this vulnerable group of children and young people.

Executive summary

The Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland have been co-produced with care experienced children, young people and adults with past experience.

The Pathway and Standards are rooted in the existing statutory requirements, ethos and principles set out in the relevant legislation, policy and guidance. They are based on the legislatively enshrined human and children's rights and are crucial in the integration of secure care within the Getting it Right for Every Child framework. The Pathway and Standards provide context through the specific calls for action from children and young people with experience of secure care, they also give unique voice to the outcomes set out in the Health and Social Care Standards, adhering to the same key principles of:

  • Dignity and respect
  • Compassion
  • Be included
  • Responsive care and support
  • Wellbeing

The standards are also future proofed by aligning with the Health and Social Care Standards and their implementation will support the achievement of the transformational Vision, Purpose, Values and Principles of secure care agreed by the Secure Care Strategic Board.

Our vision is of compassionate, nurturing, relational, rights based responses and supports within families, schools and communities; for all children and young people whenever there are concerns about significant harm to self and/or other people.

We are working together to Get It Right For Every Child, focused on making sure children and young people are offered early, timely, appropriate and high quality supports to help them fulfil their potential.

Scotland is striving to become a country where all children and young people; whatever the vulnerabilities and risks associated with their distress and actions; are cared for as children and where no child or young person is deprived of their liberty.

When introduced and implemented it is anticipated the standards will be used by-

  • Children, their parents/carers, families and advocates to understand what they should expect from corporate parents and professionals when being intensively supported in the community or a secure care setting
  • All corporate parents to inform strategic decisions on resource priorities, service design, commissioning, joint working arrangements, self-evaluation and individual support to children and their families
  • Secure care services in their strategic and operational development, and self-evaluation
  • Regulators and inspectors as part of their future scrutiny and improvement work


Secure accommodation is a form of residential care that restricts the liberty of children under the age of 18. It is used for the small number of children who may be a significant risk to themselves, or others in the community. Their needs and risks can only be managed in secure care's controlled settings. Secure care aims to provide intensive support and safe boundaries to help these highly vulnerable children re-engage and move forward positively in their communities.

The Scottish Government Secure Care Strategic Board was established in October 2017 in response to the findings and recommendations of the Secure Care National Project, which urged the development of national standards to improve experiences and outcomes for children who are in and on the edges of secure care in Scotland and to ensure their rights are central to consideration. The Scottish Government 2018 Programme for Government gave a commitment to developing secure care standards for Scotland.

The standards will reflect the principles and format of the Health and Social Care Standards., which were introduced from April 2018.

The Secure Care Strategic Boards Pathways and Standards work stream brought together a significant programme of co-production working in partnership with all five secure centres, Who Cares? Scotland, CELCIS, CYCJ Social Work Scotland, NHS, the Care Inspectorate, SCRA, Scotland Excel and care experienced young people and adults with current and past experience of secure care.

The Board's Pathways and Standards work stream began by mapping existing legislation, guidance and policy documents against the Calls for Action gathered from young people during the Secure Care National Project. The feedback on this process has been very positive with young people and secure care staff involved in the co-production describing the immediate positive impact. It has brought a new understanding of young people's needs, experiences and feelings. With some participants describing the programme as being transformational.

Scope of the CRWIA, identifying the children and young people affected by the policy, and summarising the evidence base

The children and young people affected by the policy will be in or on the edges of secure care and are amongst the most vulnerable children in Scotland.

The vast majority will be aged 12 – 17 years old however there may be a very small number of 10 – 11 year olds.

The Scottish Government funded the Secure Care National Advisor post for 3 years.

The Secure Care National Advisor worked with a wide range of sector leads, partners and care experienced young people to:

  • ensure the effective delivery of service to children in secure care
  • review current trends, achievements and risks
  • make recommendations to partners about future configuration of the secure estate

Recommendations from the Project led to the establishment of a national Strategic Board to provide leadership and direction, giving a voice to care experienced young people and involving them in driving a long term programme of transformation for secure care and approaches to young people in and on the edges of secure care in Scotland. As part of this, the STARR (secure care experienced advisory) group was created, bringing together adults and young people with lived experience of the care system.

This work generated several pieces of work and different papers reviewing secure care in Scotland. The three main papers were

  • Secure Care in Scotland – Looking Ahead
  • Chief Social Work Officers and Secure Units
  • Secure Care in Scotland – Young Peoples Voices

The views rom young people in these papers led to the drive to implement these standards.

Children and young people's views and experiences

The fundamental approach to drafting the standards has been a commitment to ensuring that secure care experienced young people and adults were central to their development.

The standards have been designed to address the issues voiced by children and young people in the Secure Care in Scotland: Young Peoples Voice paper published in 2017.

The standards are written from the perspective of the child and have specific standards on the areas children detailed were most important to them and had the greatest impact on their experiences.

The adoption of a pathway approach reflects the concerns and accounts shared by children, young people and stakeholders throughout the Secure Care National Project and during the co-production of the Pathway and Standards. The Pathway and Standards are not service-led but instead are designed to be applied wherever children are experiencing extreme vulnerabilities, needs and risk in their lives, requiring the involvement of all corporate parents if they are to be achieved for every child.

This method of co-production resulted in a wealth of direct quotes, written statements, and letters and art designs from young people all expressing what needs to be different and delivered through the new Secure Care National Standards.

Key Findings, including an assessment of the impact on children's rights, and how the measure will contribute to children's wellbeing

The Secure Care National Standards will have a positive effect on the rights of children in Scotland. The standards comply with UNCRC requirements and will advance the realisation of children's rights in Scotland.

When the standards are fully implemented we anticipate they will drive up standards of care, improve the experiences and outcomes for this group of young people whilst ensuring their rights are promoted and protected.

The standards fully support the SHANARRI wellbeing indicators.

Monitoring and review

The Pathway and Standards Scotland will be a living document which will continue to develop over time taking account of the experiences of children and young people in and on the edges of secure care.

The standards will be reviewed bi-annually to ensure they are still relevant and important to children and young people.

The Scottish regulatory authority the Care Inspectorate will play a key role in the monitoring of the standards particularly when the young person is in secure care.

The Scottish Government will work closely with key partners including Health, Social Work, Education, Police, SCRA and all five secure providers to develop an implementation and monitoring plan.

CRWIA Declaration


Policy lead: David Cotterell

Date: October 2020

Deputy Director or equivalent: Bill Scott-Wilson

Date: October 2020



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