Today I had a very positive meeting with Joanna Macdonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser within the Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser of the Scottish Government. One of Joanna’s roles has been to act as the Chair of the National Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group. This group are now coming towards the end of their time of meeting regularly to discuss and assess the improvement journey across Scotland, in relation to the changes brought about in connection with the Child Protection Guidance.
This national Guidance published in 2021 described responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children in Scotland. The Guidance outlined how statutory and non-government agencies should work together with parents, families and communities to prevent harm and to protect children from abuse and neglect. The Guidance formed part of the Scottish Government’s Child Protection Improvement Programme and the current version incorporated seven years of changes in legislation, as well as standards and policy, developments in practice, findings from research, Significant Case Reviews and Inspection. The Guidance recognises that review and improvement is a continual process within a complex practice landscape. Therefore, although the Implementation Group will cease to meet regularly, the improvement work for which the Group acted as a catalyst, will continue.
I had been fortunate to be invited to join the Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group on coming into post in October 2022 and have gleaned a lot of very helpful information. You may be aware, that Adult Support and Protection has recently commenced it’s own national journey of Improvement, galvanised as a result of the changes brought about within the revised Adult Support and Protection Legislation – Code of Practice, published in summer 2022. The opportunity to learn from colleagues a little further down the national improvement process has been really invaluable.
In my experience (having been around Adult Support and Protection for around 12 years now) – Child Protection and Adult Support and Protection have not always worked together as proactively (at all levels from national to local) sharing information and learning to assist each other. This has had times led to a lack of cohesion, even in relation to legislation. You may be aware that the ASP legislation states an individual is an adult at age 16 years and the Child Protection legislation states that a child is a child up until age 18 years – as you might imagine, this can lead to confusion not least for colleagues working within Child Protection and Adult Support and Protection processes, especially concerning young people aged 16 and 17 years. Iriss (Institute of Research and Innovation in Social Services) are currently engaged in a piece of research specifically relating to this issue.
Delighted to say, that nowadays, I feel I have a close affinity and working relationship with Child Protection colleagues at all levels. I am also a member of the Child Protection Committees Scotland Group and keep abreast of all things Child Protection via that route. During our meeting this morning, I was provided with some really helpful information that should assist me in my ASP role and I hope I was also able to provide some pertinent ASP information which will be helpful for my colleagues in Government, in relation to Child Protection. It feels so much more joined up and that can only be a good thing.