National Guidnace for Child Protection in Scotland: 2014
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 has just completed its passage through Parliament and guidance will be developed over the coming year to prepare for commencement of the provisions. The Scottish Government is working with Community Planning Partnerships to encourage the necessary changes in procedure and process to ensure readiness for the new duties. This guidance references the anticipated new ways of working and procedures which some Community Planning Partnership areas are already implementing. This will help to minimise any update ahead of commencement once the guidance to support implementation of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 is completed.
Purpose of the guidance
Procedures and guidance cannot in themselves protect children; a competent, skilled and confident workforce, together with a vigilant public, can. Child protection is a complex system requiring the interaction of services, the public, children and families. For the system to work effectively, it is essential that everyone understands the contribution they can make and how those contributions work together to provide the best outcomes for children. Everyone working with children and their families, including social workers, health professionals, police, educational staff, voluntary organisations and the third sector, as well as members of the community, need to appreciate the important role they can play in remaining vigilant and providing robust support for child protection. Guidance provides the framework for that understanding. It enables managers and practitioners to apply their skills collectively and effectively and to develop a shared understanding of their common objective – to promote, support and safeguard the wellbeing of all children, including those who are most vulnerable.
Improving outcomes for children and young people is a fundamental objective for all services and organisations. Ensuring that they and their families get the help they need, when they need it, will give all children and young people the opportunity to flourish. Agencies can improve outcomes for all children including Scotland‟s most vulnerable by adopting common frameworks for assessment, planning and action that help them to identify needs and risks and work together to address them appropriately. This national guidance sets out common standards for child protection services in Scotland, making it clear how all agencies should work together where appropriate to respond to concerns early and effectively and ensuring that practice is consistent and of high quality.
The guidance provides a national framework within which agencies and practitioners at local level – individually and jointly – can understand and agree processes for working together to support, promote and safeguard and the wellbeing of all children. It sets out expectations for strategic planning of services to protect children and young people and highlights key responsibilities for services and organisations, both individual and shared. It also serves as a resource for practitioners on specific areas of practice and key issues in child protection. This guidance replaces the previous version of this guidance published in 2010 and Protecting Children – A Shared Responsibility: Guidance on Inter-agency Co operation, which was published in 1998 and incorporates the Scottish Government guidance, Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees (2005).
While this guidance is intended to act as a practical reference point for practitioners and agencies, it should not be regarded as exhaustive or exclusive. Nor does it constitute legal advice. Where they have concerns about the wellbeing of a child, users of this guidance should consider whether there is also a need to consult with others.
This guidance is for all services, agencies, professional bodies and organisations, and for individuals working within an adult and child service context who face, or could face, child protection issues. Children and their families come into contact with services at different points for different reasons and with different needs. Often, those needs can be met by the family themselves or by a single agency; but where children and families are particularly vulnerable and/or have complex needs, services must work together to take a collective and co-ordinated approach within the Getting it right for every child framework. Protecting children means recognising when to be concerned about their safety and understanding when and how to share these concerns, how to investigate and assess such concerns and fundamentally, what steps are required to ensure the child‟s safety and wellbeing.