1. This statutory guidance is issued by Scottish Ministers under section 15 of Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act). It provides local authorities and health boards, working in partnership with other public bodies and organisations, with information and advice about how they should exercise the functions conferred by Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Act.
2. Part 3 seeks to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland by ensuring that local planning and delivery of services is integrated, focused on securing quality and value through preventative approaches and dedicated to safeguarding, supporting and promoting child wellbeing. It aims to ensure that any action to meet needs is taken at the earliest appropriate time and that, where appropriate, action is taken to prevent needs arising. To this end, Part 3 sets out a legal framework for children's services planning, including its scope and aims. Overall responsibility for children's services planning will now rest clearly with a local authority and its relevant health board  (i.e. the territorial health board in whose area the local authority falls), with other members of the Community Planning Partnership, and some national public bodies, either consulted with, or obliged to participate, at various stages of the plan's development and review.
3. All persons and organisations named in section 15(2) of the Act are required to have regard to this guidance when carrying out their functions (in respect of children's services planning). Compliance with the duties described herein will be monitored through informal reviews of "Children's Services Plans" and reports (carried out by Scottish Ministers), and joint inspections of children's services.
4. However, while this guidance has been designed to support effective implementation by explaining the purpose and detail of each duty, it is not prescriptive about how certain functions should be realised in practice (except in those instances where the legislation is specific on a matter). Each local authority and health board, in collaboration with their children's services planning partners, may shape their own approach, in reference to their local context, within the parameters set by Part 3. Where appropriate, this guidance does illustrate how duties may be fulfilled, but these are suggestions only.
5. This guidance has been developed to assist the professionals and community representatives involved in children's services planning, but it will also be of interest to individuals and organisations involved in the delivery of services, as these have the potential to be directly affected by the process. The guidance will also be useful to those involved in other strategic planning processes (such as community planning, or health and social integration strategic planning), enabling links and synergies to be identified.
6. Persons and organisations involved in children's services planning should be familiar with all the duties set out in Part 3, and how these interact with each other, and other relevant duties set out elsewhere (either in the Act or other legislation). As such, it is important that this guidance is read as a whole. Furthermore, organisations may find it useful to read this guidance alongside other guidance, such as the guidance for Part 1 (Rights of Children), Part 4 (Named Person), Part 5 (Child's Plan), Part 6 (Early Learning and Childcare) and section 96 (Assessment of wellbeing) of the Act. Other relevant legislative and policy guidance is listed at Appendix A. Details of which Part 3 duties apply to specific persons (e.g. local authority, Scottish Ministers, etc.) is available at Appendix B.
7. It is intended that the duties under this Part of the Act are commenced so that a "Children's Services Plan", prepared in accordance with the provisions of Part 3 of the Act, should be in place by 1 April 2017. Subsequently, a report on how the local area has delivered on its plan must be published, as soon as practicable after the end of each one-year period (April to March). Please note that the "Children's Services Plan", as required by Part 3, replaces the "Integrated Children's Services Plan" prepared under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
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