Scottish executive announces reform of children’s services

Social work departments could be brought before the courts if
they breach a new duty of care towards young people, the Scottish
Executive has announced, writes Amy

The proposal forms part of a wholesale reform of
children’s services, similar to Every Child Matters in
England, designed to use preventive services to slash the numbers
of young people ending up in the children’s hearing

The provision says agencies must ensure young people get the
care they need, with those not fulfilling the duty called before a
sheriff to explain themselves.

The proposals, which have arisen from a review of the
children’s hearings system, include giving vulnerable
children a lead professional to co-ordinate services and the
development of integrated assessments between agencies to reduce

It also proposes a duty on agencies to co-operate with each
other in meeting children’s needs and arrangements for
information sharing and joint working to improve service

Ruth Stark, professional officer for the British Association of
Social Work Scotland, said the new duty of care would increase
bureaucracy and duplicate the work of inspection agencies.

However, Tam Bailey, assistant director of policy at
Barnardo’s Scotland, said that one of the duty’s
intentions was to try and elevate the importance of
children’s hearings among agencies.

He said that it could help to solve the problem of agencies not
allocating workers to service supervision orders given to children
by hearings panels.
Ministers say that too many children are ending up in the
children’s hearing system due to services not taking action
early enough.

However, Bailey and Stark said that more resources were needed
to deliver the executive’s aims.

Stark said that a key issue missing from the plans were measures
on how to recruit a better range of people to become members of
hearings panels.

She said that employers were not reimbursed when staff were
absent due to working on a panel, which meant many people were
unable to take part.

Getting it Right for Every Child – Proposals for

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