Revised model for joint inspections for children and young people 2018

Revised model for joint inspection of services for children and young people from 2018 – update briefing August 2018

In 2017, the Scottish Government’s child protection improvement programme set out a vision for a child protection system in Scotland that places the wellbeing of children at the heart of everything it does. As part of this review, Scottish Ministers asked the Care Inspectorate to work with scrutiny partners to develop a revised model of inspection that takes a more focused look at vulnerable children and young people. Ministers want inspections to take account of the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in need of protection and those who are subject to corporate parenting responsibilities.

What did we do?

During 2017 we:

  • listened to and spoke with care experienced children and young people, many of whom also have been involved in the child protection system
  • established an advisory group representing a broad range of key stakeholders with responsibility for protecting children and improving the lives of looked after children and care leavers
  • reviewed the findings from our inspections and those of our scrutiny partners to date, identifying what supports successful practice and leadership and where the barriers are
  • took into account the ‘root and branch’ review and recommendations of the child protection systems review.

How has this early work influenced decisions about the scope and focus of our methodology?

When we engaged with children and young people about the focus of inspections, their most important message was that children and young people should be enabled to experience sincere human contact and enduring relationships. They want to be able to build trust through consistent relationships with adults and they want to be supported to maintain contact with those people who are most important in their lives. Our new revised approach to joint inspections will therefore look carefully at how well the system is organised to ensure children and young people can experience continuity in their care and develop and sustain lasting relationships.

We believe that staff who are well trained and supported, and who feel valued and empowered, are more likely to be able to provide high quality services for children and young people. We will therefore explore how well staff are valued supported and equipped to carry out their task. We know from our inspection findings that partners recognise the critical importance of achieving high standards in assessment and planning to ensure the safety of, and improve outcomes for, children and young people. However, we also know that performance in assessment and planning is not as consistently strong across the country as it needs to be. There is a consensus that improvements in performance here are supported by robust quality assurance and high quality reflective supervision. Therefore, we will look at the extent to which these are in place.

The child protection systems review identified the need for a clearer collective understanding of when child protection concerns should give rise to consideration of compulsory measures of care. Our inspections will consider the appropriate use of legal measures to achieve security and stability in the lives of vulnerable children. Strong collaborative leadership is essential within the challenging context of providing high quality public services in an integrated landscape. Inspections will include a focus on the role played by staff who work in adult services in protecting children and young people and supporting sustained positive change for them and their families. We will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative leadership, including leadership of the child protection committee and its relationship with chief officers, and we will identify any barriers that impact on continued improved performance. We will look at how well leaders can demonstrate what difference they are, together, making to the lives of children in need of protection and those for whom they are corporate parents.

What are we doing?

We agreed with Scottish Minsters to carry out a minimum of five joint inspections across the country each year, reporting publicly on the findings for each community planning partnership area. Our approach continues to be based on self-evaluation and we remain committed to using the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) model. We have worked with our partners in HMICS, HIS and Education Scotland to develop the methodology and they work with us to deliver inspections. Our young inspection volunteers continue to play an important role in helping us engage with children and young people throughout our inspections. We have strengthened their role in providing support and challenge to leaders about the extent to which children, young people and their families get the right help, at the right time to ensure their safety, support good health and wellbeing and improve their life chances. 

What will the inspections report on?

Each inspection will result in a published report which will seek to answer the following questions.
1. How good is the partnership at recognising and responding when children and young people need protection?
2. How good is the partnership at helping children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect stay safe, healthy and well and recover from their experiences?
3. How good is the partnership at maximising the wellbeing of children and young people who are looked after?
4. How good is the partnership at enabling care experienced young people to succeed in their transition to adulthood?
5. How good is collaborative leadership?

We have revised our quality improvement framework (QIF) in light of strong support for a framework to support partners to evaluate their own performance, the new framework has been consulted on widely and updated and refreshed to orientate it towards outcomes for the most vulnerable children and to ensure it was relevant for the current context in which services for children and young people are delivered.

We started the joint inspections of services for children in need of care and protection in August 2018 and will continue to review and revise the approach.