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The joint strategic inspection of services for children and young people

Review of findings from the inspection programme 2012-2017

This report is a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of the delivery of services by community planning partnerships (CPPs) in Scotland to meet the needs of children and young people, including those identified as most vulnerable. This review is based on a significant weight of evidence gathered by the Care Inspectorate and partner scrutiny bodies through our joint inspection processes carried out between 2012 and 2017.

During that time, at the request of Scottish Ministers, the Care Inspectorate led a series of 32 joint inspections of services for children and young people – one in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. These joint inspections involved colleagues from Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland. This joint approach helped to build a clear overview in our inspections of the difference made by services working with children and young people, taking account of the full range of work within a CPP area.

This report highlights the key themes which arose from the full joint inspection programme and is designed to support partnerships to continue their improvement journey by proposing key areas for consideration. While we understand the challenges in delivering high quality, person-centred and needs-led services in a dynamic and evolving environment, it remains our job to provide assurance and drive improvement in the delivery of services for children and young people. This report will promote understanding of, and highlight barriers to, supporting good practice in order to ensure our children and young people have positive experiences and good outcomes.

With some exceptions, partnerships generally demonstrated improved outcomes, despite the pressure on available resources over the period. This was a notable achievement. In the majority of partnerships, we found a strong ethos, commitment to and delivery of the active and meaningful participation of children, young people and families and other stakeholders. We saw evidence of the comprehensive and systematic involvement of children, young people and families in the planning of services across the majority of partnerships as the programme of inspections progressed.

We welcome the strengths and embedding of change, particularly around the involvement of children and young people in decisions about them. However, there are a number of areas where concerted effort is required to improve. For example, some children and young people were experiencing delays in accessing the right health service at the right time, including mental health services, and delays in planning for permanency had significant adverse impacts on the outcomes for children and young people. In the next programme of joint inspections we will seek to understand more about what can reduce any adverse impact and improve outcomes.

The evidence we have gathered supports a focus in our future joint inspection activity and will also continue to inform our scrutiny and assurance activity in regulated care services for children and young people, ensuring that children and young people are supported by effective, well-led and caring services which make a valuable difference to their lives. The Care Inspectorate will continue to scrutinise and support improvement in partnerships, working with, and constructively challenging them to deliver better outcomes for children, young people and their families.

In 2017, the Scottish Government’s child protection improvement programme set out a vision for a child protection system in Scotland that places the wellbeing of children at the heart of everything it does. As part of this review, Scottish Ministers asked the Care Inspectorate to work with scrutiny partners to develop a revised model of inspection that takes a more focused look at vulnerable children and young people.

The new programme of joint inspections of services for children and young people focuses on children and young people in need of protection and those who are subject to corporate parenting responsibilities. Each inspection will result in a published report. We remain committed to using the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model and a new quality improvement framework has been developed, which reflects the Health and Social Care Standards. Our young inspection volunteers will continue to play an important role in helping us engage with children and young people in order to gather evidence to support our findings.