Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)
Designed to be threaded through all existing policy, practice, strategy and legislation affecting children, young people and their families, GIRFEC is founded on ten core components which can be applied in any setting and in any circumstance:
- A focus on improving outcomes for children, young people and their families based on a shared understanding of wellbeing
- A common approach to gaining consent and to sharing information where appropriate
- An integral role for children, young people and families in assessment, planning and intervention
- A co-ordinated and unified approach to identifying concerns, assessing needs, and agreeing actions and outcomes, based on the wellbeing indicators
- Streamlined planning, assessment and decision-making processes that lead to the right help at the right time
- Consistent high standards of co-operation, joint working and communication where more than one agency needs to be involved, locally and across Scotland
- A Named Person for every child and young person, and a Lead Professional (where necessary) to co-ordinate and monitor multi-agency activity
- Maximising the skilled workforce within universal services to address needs and risks as early as possible
- A confident and competent workforce across all services for children, young people and their families
- The capacity to share demographic, assessment, and planning information - including electronically - within and across agency boundaries
The wellbeing of children and young people is at the heart of GIRFEC. The approach uses eight areas of wellbeing, SHANARRI indicators, which represent the basic requirements for all children and young people to grow and develop and reach their full potential:
The indicators are used to record observations, events and concerns and as an aid in putting together a child’s plan.
Other GIRFEC provisions
The Scottish Government has published statutory guidance on Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, 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.
Child Protection Improvement Programme
The Scottish Government set up the Child Protection Improvement Programme in response to issues identified in the Brock report and the Care Inspectorate's 2011-2014 triennial review. Following year-long activity, two reports were published in Spring 2017: the Child Protection Improvement Programme and Protecting Scotland’s Children and Young People: It is Still Everyone’s Job.
Protecting Scotland's Children National Policy and Child Abuse Prevention Activity followed in March 2018, setting out the Scottish Government's vision for the protection of Scotland's children and young people.
A National Child Protection Leadership Group, chaired by the Minister for Children and Early Years, was established to support, strengthen and improve activity on child protection. The group oversees implementation of the recommendations of the Child Protection Improvement Programme Report and reviews arrangements for child protection across current planning and service delivery processes. The group reports to and is accountable to Scottish Ministers.
National Action Plan on Child Sexual Exploitation
The National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation was initially published in 2014 and updated in March 2016. The Action Plan was co-produced by the Scottish Government and a national Ministerial Working Group (MWG) on CSE made up of a range of experts, including Police Scotland, Children in Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, Aberlour, Barnardo's and the Crown Office.
The publication followed an inquiry into child sexual exploitation by the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee, which was launched after Barnardo’s Scotland raised a petition on the issue in 2011.
The Action Plan was developed with specific areas of focus for tackling CSE: prevention of abuse (with specific measures for dealing with particularly vulnerable children); disruption and prosecution of offenders through legislation; and supporting children and young people affected by CSE.
National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland
National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland is the Scottish Government's national framework for agencies and practitioners at local level to understand and agree processes for working together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It sets out expectations for strategic planning of services to protect children and young people and highlights key responsibilities for services and organisations, both individual and shared. It also includes guidance for practitioners on specific areas of practice and key issues in child protection.
The current version of the National Guidance for Child Protection was published in 2014. A consultation on the guidance closed in January 2021.
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
A statutory public inquiry to examine historical cases of abuse of children in care in Scotland was established on 1 October 2015. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has the power to compel witnesses to appear and give evidence and runs in parallel and complements the hearings of the National Confidential Forum. The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) is providing ongoing logistical support, input and advice throughout the process. The full text of the Inquiry Terms of Reference is available here.
The Rt Hon Lady Anne Smith was appointed Chair in July 2016. The Deputy First Minister made a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament to announce that the Inquiry terms of reference would be amended to make clear its scope includes the abuse of children in care wherever that occurred, though it will not be extended further to include all allegations of abuse in non-residential settings.
In June 2018, the Deputy First Minister announced that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will be given more time to complete its work and ensure survivors are heard.
The second phase of the inquiry's focus on boarding schools
commenced on 4 May 2021.
Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act
The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill was introduced on 6 September 2018 and the Scottish Parliament passed the legislation in September 2019.
The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 removed the “reasonable chastisement” defence from 7 November 2020. This means that all forms of physical punishment of children are against the law in Scotland, and children now have the same legal protection from assault as adults.
The Scottish Government published Children (Equal Protection from Assault (Scotland) Bill: framework for statutory bodies which explains the effect of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 and establishes a framework for implementation of the Act for statutory bodies in Scotland.
Significant Case Reviews
A significant case review (SCR) is a multi-agency process for establishing the facts of, and learning lessons from, a situation where a child has died or been significantly harmed. Significant case reviews should focus on learning and reflect on day-to-day practices and the systems within which those practices operate.
The overarching objectives of significant reviews are outlined in National Guidance for Child Protection Committees Conducting a Significant Case Review, published by the Scottish Government in 2015. They are fundamentally to establish whether there are lessons to be learned about how better to protect children and young people and ensure they get the help they need when they need it in the future.
In September 2020, the Scottish Government announced plans to consult on and publish revised National Guidance for Child Protection and develop a new approach to reviewing significant protection cases by April 2021.
Listed below are SCRs carried out in Scotland which have been published in the last 18 months:
If you have any questions about the SCRs, please contact the relevant local authority area following the links above.
Listed below are national reports and research findings
UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill
The UNCRC (Incorporation) Bill, introduced on 2 September, to further embed the rights of children and young people as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Bill will incorporate the UNCRC into domestic law so that children and their representatives can vindicate their rights set out in international law in domestic courts. It will aim to ensure there is a “proactive culture of everyday accountability” for children’s rights across public services in Scotland. The Bill will aim to ensure that public authorities take proactive steps to ensure compliance with children’s rights in their decision making and service delivery.
A library of publications by the Scottish Government and other national bodies setting out relevant policy developments or direction
Legislation which may be relevant to you and your service
The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland
Latest Children and Young People Bulletin
A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people