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Supporting children and young people
A new Scottish approach to supporting children and young people, tested in Highland and supported by the Scottish Government, is delivering real results for local youngsters.
The project, which aims to transform the way services are delivered, has been found to improve outcomes for children and families, cut non-offence referrals to the children's reporter by 70 per cent and free up staff to spend more time supporting families, instead of writing reports.
Based on developments of the 'Getting It Right For Every Child' pathfinder project to date, an evaluation undertaken by Edinburgh University, has found that:
- Two-thirds of reports, based on a random sample of 97, showed improvements for children
- Families feel 'one team' is supporting them and their children, rather than lots of different teams. They are more involved in finding solutions to their needs and have a better understanding of what is happening, when and why
- There is one multi-agency meeting to address all a child's needs and one person is responsible for bringing the different strands of support together. This means a more focused and planned response to their needs
- Earlier and more appropriate intervention has meant that the rate of children being placed on the child protection register has fallen by half
- Better quality information is being collected, shared and understood across the various local agencies, creating better trust among staff. Less time is being spent writing reports on the same children and families no longer need to keep repeating their stories to different staff
Minister for Children and Early Years, Adam Ingram said:
"All children are precious and deserve the opportunity to get the best possible start. The Getting it right project in Highland, launched with the support of the Scottish Government, has given staff and managers an opportunity to develop and test out a new way of supporting children. It is based on an approach which places children's needs first, ensures they are listened to and that they understand decisions which affect them. It also means they get more co-ordinated help for their health, well-being and development.
"This report shows that this approach is delivering results for many children and that local agencies are working more effectively together to meet their needs. It will have a real impact on those facing the greatest social and health inequalities and encourage earlier intervention by professionals in a child's early years to allow small issues to be addressed before they develop into major problems and require crisis interventions.
"I want to thank everyone in Highland who worked hard to develop and implement Getting it right. Based on initial findings, the Scottish Government has started to put this approach at the heart of all our policies for children, young people and families. Given the clear benefits, we would now encourage other areas to look carefully at this report and the findings emerging from the other pathfinder sites, to see how they too can improve support for children and young people. It would also be helpful for Community Planning Partnerships to begin thinking through the kinds of support that would best help them adopt this approach."
Bill Alexander, Head of Children's Services for NHS Highand and Highland Council, said:
"We have enjoyed a close partnership with the Scottish Government in the development and implementation of 'Getting it right for every child' . This is Scotland's reform programme for children's services. It builds on best practice, and introduces new and better ways of working and it is making a difference for children and families. Most children are already experiencing improved outcomes. Fewer children are being referred to the children's reporter as needing compulsory measures. Staff have more time to spend in direct work with families and are spending less time on report writing and other bureaucracy. We have shown that 'Getting it right for every child' can be delivered. More importantly, we are starting to show that it works."
Harriet Dempster, President of the Association of Directors of Social Work - which fully supports the principles of 'Getting it right for every child' , said :
"We are both interested and encouraged by the research findings. These are early days and these are only green shoot indicators but what is clear is that this approach is helping deliver the recommendations in the review of Social Work and 'Changing Lives' agenda. It is reducing bureaucracy and creating more time for direct work, which I know will be welcomed by front line social work staff. Furthermore, in recognising the importance of partnership working, it demonstrates that when universal services are truly universal the experience and skills of social workers can be effectively targeted to those in greatest need, and support early intervention to prevent family break up. "
'Getting it right for every child' is a national programme that aims to improve outcomes for every child and young person in Scotland by providing a framework for services and agencies working with them to deliver a co-ordinated approach which is appropriate, proportionate and timely.
The Highland pathfinder project was launched in September 2006 to address all aspects of children's and young people's needs from birth through to 18. In addition to children's services, it also covered services and agencies whose work significantly affects the lives of children and their families. Today's report focuses on the development and implementation phases to date.
The second pathfinder became operational in 2007 and was designed to test implementation of the Getting it right approach in response to a single issue or theme: meeting the needs of children and young people living with or affected by domestic abuse. This is now being taken forward in four local authorities: Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh City, Falkirk and West Dunbartonshire. One of the further briefings will focus on the development and implementation phases in the single issue pathfinder areas.