Scotland to push for a duty of care in shake-up of children’s services

Scotland to push for a duty of care in shake-up 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.

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

The provision says agencies must ensure young people receive 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 repetition.

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 delivery.

Ruth Stark, professional officer for the British Association of
Social Workers 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

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.

The Scottish executive’s report, Getting it Right for
Every Child – Proposals for Action
is available from:

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