CELCIS welcomes action in Scotland's Government programme to meet the rights and needs of children and families
The Scottish Government's Programme for Government 2019/20 announced to the Scottish Parliament today (3 September) demonstrates a clear commitment and a number of important measures, that if put into action, will make lives better for some of our most vulnerable babies, children, young people and families.
In a broad programme, the Government's measures describe how it will uphold the rights of children, deliver on its aspirations in the National Performance Framework that Scotland is a place where all children "grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential", and for the GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child) approach to deliver real improvements.
The Government outlines a number of proposals and measures (set out below) that build on existing programmes of work and that are already having an impact – for example, CELCIS's Permanence and Care Excellence programme - which is working across Scotland and alongside local authorities and agencies to improve decision-making processes so that children and young people can get a settled, secure and permanent place to live, quickly and with minimum disruption to their young lives.
With a track record of bringing together our specialist knowledge and experience of front-line practice, sharing research and best practice, and policy guidance and analysis, CELCIS is also home to improvement and implementation science expertise. We will continue working alongside people to build on what works and support sustainable change and improvement in systems, organisations and services for children with a rights-based, child-centred focus.
Welcoming the Government's programme, Executive Director of CELCIS, Professor Jennifer Davidson, said:
"I'm really pleased to see that this announcement today is a programme of work dedicated to making the lives of babies, children, young people, and very importantly, families better, and that it has been influenced by what children and young people with experience of care services tell us they need.
"CELCIS will continue to support all those working to ensure that children have the right to care and protection and that their voice is heard in meaningful ways locally and nationally in Scotland. This will ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to be all they wish and hope to be."
publishing revised National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland, whereby the Scottish Government will work with stakeholders to develop a new approach to reviewing significant protection cases and take forward a range of actions to prevent sexual offending involving children and young people
publishing a national dataset to support the planning and delivery of child protection services and work with Scotland's local authorities, health, education, and justice sectors to make sure risk and harm are recognised and handled quickly and effectively
developing Scottish standards for the Barnahus concept, forming a framework for a child-centred approach to delivering justice, care and recovery for children who have experienced trauma. The government will publish draft standards for consultation at the end of this year and finalised standards in 2020
expanding the National Trauma Training Programme over the next two years, providing the opportunity for more frontline staff to receive training, such as those supporting looked after children and women receiving maternity care who have experienced sexual violence and abuse
establishing a statutory redress scheme for anyone who has been a victim of historical child abuse whilst in care in Scotland, beginning with introducing legislation in the coming year
take forward the recommendations of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland's independent review into the mental health services for young people in custody.
On support and services for care experienced young people including care leavers:
extending eligibility for free NHS dental care to care experienced people between the ages of 18 and 26 to reduce the negative impacts that poor dental health can have on physical health, mental wellbeing and self confidence
working with local government to make sure that care experienced young people receiving a qualifying benefit are supported with discretionary housing payments from April next year, giving them greater choice in the housing options they have, and more security in their tenancies
launching the new Job Start Payment, ensuring that care leavers will get this help if they are receiving a qualifying benefit, without having had a period of unemployment
removing the age 26 cap on the care experienced student bursary in time for the start of the 2020-21 academic year. People with experience of care often do not feel ready to start further or higher education immediately after leaving school – and the Scottish Government wants to support them into either further or higher education at whatever point in life they feel they are ready, no matter what age they are
extending entitlement to funded early learning and childcare provision to 2 year olds whose parents are care experienced. This entitlement is intended to be in place from August next year, the same time that the government begins to deliver 1140 hours of funded provision for families across Scotland
developing a care leavers homelessness prevention pathway, building on the Scottish Government's work this year to better understand what support people with care experience need to reduce their risk of becoming homeless and what specific support care leavers need if they do become homeless.
On children's rights:
creating a new statutory provision in favour of brothers and sisters who are taken into care being placed together, where this is in their best interests
implementing the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 as quickly and as safely as possible, so that as of autumn this year, no child under the age of 12 at the time of an incident will be treated as an offender in the Children's Hearings System, or subsequently
introducing a national Children's Hearings advocacy scheme, backed by £1.5 million, to further reinforce children's rights and make sure the interests of each child are at the very heart of their hearing. The government will also consult on enabling joint reporting to the Crown Office and the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration of all 16 and 17 year olds' offence cases
stepping up Scotland's awareness-raising programme for children's rights, working in partnership with children, young people and wider stakeholders to co-produce materials that highlight how children's rights benefit us all; refreshing the 'Introduction to children's rights' e-learning tool; and promoting the use of Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments by public bodies and third sector organisations
From spring next year, new standards to improve experiences and outcomes for vulnerable young people in secure care will come into force.
On supporting families:
bringing forward the new Scottish Child Payment, to be introduced by Christmas 2020
subject to UK Government arrangements, delivering the new Job Start Payment next spring. The £250 payment (or £400 if a person has children) will help with costs such as travel, clothing, lunches and other expenses on return to work
providing £500,000 to establish the Family Learning Scotland Programme, to offer family learning in or near early learning and childcare settings, targeted at priority families. The intention is to help parents to learn about early childhood development and how to support their children's learning and build parents' confidence in their own capacity to learn, acting as a catalyst to help them take up adult learning, training opportunities and gain employment
continue to work with COSLA to agree how best to take forward the recommendations of the National Review of Foster, Kinship and Adoption Care Allowances, with a view to implementation from April next year. This will improve consistency and transparency for looked-after children, their families and their carers across Scotland.
On Health and Social Care Integration:
working with local partnerships to improve the planning of children’s services - the positive impacts of this will be incorporated into the review of Children’s Services Guidance later this year
improving strategic inspection by ensuring it better reflects how different bodies need to work together to improve outcomes