13 December 2023

CELCIS’s response to conclusion of research study to inform children’s services reform in Scotland

Today (13 December 2023) CELCIS has completed the Children Services Reform Research study, with the research team publishing its Concluding Report.

Professor Alexis Jay OBE, Chair of CELCIS’s Strategic Advisory Board, and Claire Burns, Director of CELCIS, provide our first response to this study.

Professor Alexis Jay OBE said:

“In this research study, CELCIS demonstrates why it is so important to undertake rigorous research that will inform future decision making nationally and locally, and I am in no doubt that it will have an international impact too.

“This is a significant milestone and moment for children’s services. The completion of four separate strands of research conducted over the last year and the Concluding Report, means Scotland now has the fullest picture to support the delivery of The Promise, GIRFEC and UNCRC, and to help protect its children and young people. Along with the findings of the Independent Care Review, Scotland understands what works best and matters most to care experienced children and young people, and now also understands the critical components required to support the workforce responsible for their care, and the current evidence of what it takes to achieve the transformation in children’s services we all want to see.”

Claire Burns said:

“The findings from this research study gives us more evidence than ever before about the change required to ensure that all children, young people and families get the help they need, when they need it. However, it reveals a sector facing persistent barriers to change while navigating a complex policy landscape and increased, competing demands and expectations and chronic, long-term under-investment in public services. Against these challenges, progress towards delivering change has been understandably challenging and inconsistent.

“The challenges and issues that families and carers, and care leavers, are facing are stacking up – poverty, the cost of living, housing problems and a lack of access to mental health and many other support services. In this context we know our children and young people who require support, care and protection are even more in need, and why urgent action is needed.

“While these challenges are not unique to Scotland, as a country we now know what is needed to improve lives and the solutions are within our grasp. Change is possible and is happening. We know, and the research confirms, that the workforce at the heart of Scotland’s children’s services is working extremely hard to best meet the needs of children and families under demanding conditions. We do know that even under these conditions – just like in the pandemic - individuals and teams are still developing creative and innovative ways of working in order to help children and families.

“To maintain this momentum for change, we need to prioritise what will have the biggest impact for the largest number of children, young people and families, and hold to these. We know what needs to be prioritised: it’s working to tackle child poverty and delivering holistic family support. It’s investing in collaborative leadership and collectively committing to what it will take. It’s renewing the relationship with the third sector as an equal partner in building the solutions. And it’s providing time and resources for the workforce so they are well-supported and positioned to develop trusting, consistent relationships with local communities and practitioners who can respond to the range of needs that children and families have.”

Read about the study's conclusion