Children & Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

The Children & Young People (Scotland) Bill received Royal Assent on 27 March 2014. The Children & Young People (Scotland) Act's wide-ranging provisions, all expected to be implemented by 2016, will have implications for many of the services we inspect and regulate.

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Overview

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 is designed to further the Scottish Government's ambition for "Scotland to be the best place to grow up in by putting children and young people at the heart of planning and services and ensuring their rights are respected across the public sector". See below for the key provisions.

The Scottish Parliament passed the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill in February 2014. Key documents include:

The Scottish Government has published a letter setting out a plan for implementation of the Act, including timescales.

The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) is publishing a series of briefings on specific parts of the Act. 

  • The first briefing focuses on the changes related to ‘Aftercare’ and ‘Continuing Care’.
  • The second briefing looks at Part 12 of the Act, entitled ‘Services in relation to children at risk of becoming looked after'.
  • The third briefing looks at Part 9 of the Act, entitled 'Corporate Parenting'.

 

Key provisions

Children's Rights

The Act:

  • Places new duties on Scottish ministers and the wider public sector in relation to the rights of children set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in influencing the design and delivery of policies and services.
  • Strengthens the powers of the Scottish Children and Young People's Commissioner to enable investigations to be conducted in relation to individual children and young people.

 

Getting it Right for Every Child

The Act:

  • Places requirements on local authorities and health boards to prepare a three-year 'children's services plan' for each local authority area, reporting on this each year. These should be in place from April 2017, covering the period up to 2020. 
  • Establishes a 'Named Person' for every child up to age 18, to be provided by the health board for pre-school children and the local authority for school-aged children. The Named Person will "promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person" through a number of activities.
  • Establishes a 'Child’s Plan' for every child that is deemed to need one, to be prepared by the health board for pre-school children and the local authority for school-aged children.
  • Places a definition of 'wellbeing' on a statutory footing, referring to the SHANARRI indicators. 

 

Early Education and Childcare

The Act:

  • Increases provision of mandatory 'early learning and childcare' to 600 hours per year for each eligible child, from August 2014. (Eligibility will include, via regulations, all three and four year olds and looked after two year olds or those in families seeking work. This will be expanded to two year olds in families eligible for free school meals from August 2015.)
  • Places duties on local authorities to consult and plan on delivery of early education and childcare once every two years, to ensure flexibility to meet parents’ needs and to also consult and plan in relation to day care and out of school care once every two years.

 

Looked After Children

The Act:

  • Establishes a list of public bodies to become 'Corporate Parents' and a definition of what that entails.
  • Establishes 'continuing care', allowing looked after young people to stay in their placement beyond the age of 16. (This commitment will apply up to the age of 21 from 2015 and is to be considered by a working group to determine how best to take forward). 
  • Extends the age up to which care leavers can request support ('aftercare') from local authorities from 21 to 26. 
  • Places a duty on local authorities to provide services to families with children at risk of becoming looked after, including information, advice and counselling.
  • Provides additional support for kinship carers, including a 'kinship care order' and duties on local authorities to provide counselling, advice and financial assistance. 
  • Puts Scotland‘s National Adoption Register on a statutory footing.

 

Other provisions

The Act:

  • Creates a new right to appeal a local authority decision to place a child in secure accommodation.
  • Makes procedural and technical changes in the areas of children's hearings support arrangements and school closures.
  • Provides for the extension of free school meals. (To be provided for all P1 to P3 pupils)

 

Guidance

Children's Rights

The Scottish Government has published new guidance on new duties for public bodies relating to the UNCRC and Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. Part 1 Act places a duty on a range of public authorities (including the Care Inspectorate) to report, “as soon as practicable” after the end of each 3 year period, on the steps they have taken to secure better or further effect of the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This guidance provides information and advice about how bodies should fulfil the duties and seeks to establish best practice in relation to implementation.

 

Early Education and Childcare

The Scottish Government has published Statutory Guidance for education authorities in relation to Part 6 (Early Learning and Childcare) of the Act. Part 6 introduces a range of provisions related to early learning and childcare, including a new concept of pre-school education as early learning and childcare; an increase in provision to a minimum of 600 hours; and expanded eligibility to include two year olds who are looked after or from workless families. 

The Scottish Government has also published National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare. 'Building the Ambition' "sets the context for high quality Early Learning and Childcare as set out in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014" and aims to support practitioners by looking at the "key areas which make a difference to a child's early learning and childcare experiences and the important role that practitioners play". 

The Scottish Government has published a report which draws together the available information on financing the early learning and childcare system in Scotland, focussing on provision of the funded entitlement to 600 hours. The report provides an overview on the costs and expenditure of providing the funded entitlement, using data collections from local government together with the private and non-for-profit sectors.

Children in Scotland has been appointed by the Scottish Government as part of the team managing a new programme of trials in Scotland and will work with secondees from local government and Scottish Government officials. The trials, carried out by local authorities and their partners, will provide insight into which are the most effective models for expanding provision of early learning and childcare entitlement at national level.

The Scottish Government has published a consultation, ‘A Blueprint for 2020: Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland Consultation’, which sets set out the funding options for the next phase of their early learning and child care expansion plans. The consultation seeks views on key policy choices, including funding models and phasing of provision. Consultation responses will be analysed independently with a response to the findings published in spring 2017. The consultation will close on 9 January 2017.

 

Getting it Right for Every Child

The Scottish Government has published a guidance framework document to support the GIRFEC functions in the Act. The document provides a 'contextual background' to the provisions and a proposed outline of the areas and issues which will be covered in the statutory guidance supporting Parts 4 (Provision of Named Persons), 5 (Child's Plan) and 18 (General) of the Act. 

The Scottish Government has since published draft Statutory Guidance for Parts 4, 5 and 18 of the Act. Responses to the consultation can be viewed here. An analysis of views on the draft guidance has also been published. Revised guidance was issued in November to address issues raised and to provide “a clear framework for implementation”. Following the passage of secondary legislation through Parliament in January 2016, the final version of the statutory guidance will be published in Spring 2016. 

The Scottish Government consulted on a complaints procedure to cover the exercise of functions under Parts 4 and 5 of the Act relating to the Named Person and Child's Plan. The Scottish Government has since published a response to the consultation, which indicates that it will take forward Option 2 in relation to complaints, with a parent or young person/child to make a complaint to the organisation providing the Named Person or acting as the managing authority for complaints made about the Child's Plan. The proposed complaints procedure was approved by the Education and Culture Committee on 1 March 2016. Guidance on the complaints procedure is to be developed in consultation with stakeholders, with publication due in early June 2016.

The Scottish Government has laid orders before Parliament in order to stop the Named Person provisions which were due to commence on 31 August 2016. An order is required to stop commencement of parts 4 and 5 of the 2014 Act following the recent UK Supreme Court judgment on Named Person and anticipated changes to the Act. Furthermore, the secondary legislation that implements parts 4 and 5 (the Named Persons Order, Child’s Plan Order and the Complaints Order) will also require revocation.

The Scottish Government has announced that a three month period of engagement on the Named Person scheme will begin in September 2016. The government will aim to gather input from practitioners who will undertake the role, those who support the policy and those with concerns. the engagement plan is part of the Government's wider work towards an intended commencement date in August 2017.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a statement which highlights the implications to local authorities, area health boards and Police Scotland, following the recent Supreme Court judgment about the Named Person Scheme.

An analysis of the consultation on Guidance on Children’s Rights (Part 1, section 2) and Children’s Services Planning (Part 3) has been published and the Scottish Government has responded to the issues raised in the consultation and summarised in the analysis. 

The Scottish Government has published statutory guidance on Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) which provides local authorities and health boards, working in partnership with other public bodies, with information and advice about how they should exercise the functions conferred by the Act. The guidance notes that compliance with the duties will be monitored in part through joint inspections of children’s services. Included in the appendices is information on the joint inspection process and the Care Inspectorate’s 10 Steps to Successful Children’s Services Planning

 

Looked After Children

Guidance has been published by the Scottish Government on Part 10 (Aftercare) for managers and practitioners, working with looked after children and care leavers, and Part 11 (Continuing Care) outlining the new provision of continuing care.

The Scottish Government has published guidance on Part 12 (Services in relation to Children at Risk of Becoming Looked After). It is non-statutory guidance which is split into two sections. The first sets out the legal framework that the guidance operates under. The second section describes the relevant services and the persons who must be provided with those services. The guidance aims to support frontline practitioners, managers and strategic leaders who support the children and families facing adversities.

 

Corporate Parenting

The Scottish Government has published Statutory Guidance for Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Act. The guidance provides information and advice about how corporate parents should fulfil the duties set out in Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Act, which came into force on 1 April 2015. 

 

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