4 Implementing the Recommendations: The Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968
There was intense and heated debate about the shift from courts towards a system based on 'social education'. Despite the controversy, the government accepted the recommendations in principle and in much of the detail.
A White Paper ' Social Work and the Community' produced in 1966 retained most of the core proposals of the Kilbrandon Committee and introduced the specific terms 'children's panels' and 'hearings' for the first time. The White Paper included a range of possible decisions (known as disposals) that would be available to hearings. These included discharge of the case and home or residential supervision.
Significantly, the White Paper also linked juvenile justice to developments taking place in the organisation of social work. The aim was to create a new kind of social work department, bringing together the various specialised social work services - probation, the children's departments and welfare departments of councils - in order to provide an effective all-encompassing system.
The White Paper recommended that the newly organised social work departments should provide the supporting services necessary for the work of children's hearings. This meant, essentially, that one of the fundamental planks of the Kilbrandon model was never put in place - that is, an integrated social education department. This led to education departments within local authorities passing off responsibility to social work departments with resultant tensions between departments about provision of appropriate resources for children deemed to be in need of compulsory supervision.
Statutory provision for the new system was made in the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968. Parts I and II of this Act enabled the necessary changes in the organisation of social work services to be made and the new social work departments were set up in November 1969. Part III of the Act, which established the children's hearings system, was not implemented until April 1971. This allowed time for the changes brought about by the reorganisation of social work to become established prior to the departments taking on responsibility for duties imposed in the legislation to deal with children in need of compulsory supervision. In March 1967, the Social Work Services Group was formed and attached to the Scottish Education Department as the agency which would supervise social work and the children's hearings system.
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