What do we mean when we say?




Additional support needs

When we say child or young person with additional support needs, we mean that a child or young person needs additional help to benefit from school education and reach their full potential.

Defined in Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act 2004.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

When we say Adverse Childhood Experiences, we are referring to key adversities occurring in childhood including:

  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • verbal abuse
  • emotional neglect
  • physical neglect
  • parental separation
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults with mental health difficulties
  • growing up in a household with domestic violence
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults who have spent time in prison.
Scottish Government Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): ministerial event, March 2018


When we say advocacy, we mean support provided to a person so that they can express their views and are assisted to make informed decisions.

When we say independent advocacy, we mean that the person providing advocacy is not involved in providing the services to the individual, or in any decision-making processes regarding their care.

Our definition


When we say aftercare, we are referring to the legal term. Aftercare means the advice, guidance and assistance that local authorities provide to care leavers (who are not in continuing care) up until their 26th birthday.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Care experienced

When we say care experienced, we mean a child, young person or adult who is, or who has been, looked after at some point in their childhood. We recognise that this term is not defined in law but is increasingly used in Scotland.

Our definition

Care Inspectorate

The Care Inspectorate is the national independent regulatory body for social work and social care services in Scotland. It is also known by its legal entity, Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland.

CI website

Care leaver

When we say care leaver, we are referring to the legal term. Care leaver means any young person who was looked after at the time of their 16th birthday and is no longer looked after.

All looked after children may become care leavers including children looked after at home.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Champions Board

Champions Boards allow young people to have direct influence within their local area and hold their corporate parents to account. They also ensure that services are tailored and responsive to the needs of care experienced young people and are sensitive to the kinds of vulnerabilities they may have as a result of their experiences before, during and after care.

Young peoples’ views, opinions and aspirations are at the forefront in this forum and are paramount to its success. Champions Boards build the capacity of young people to influence change, empower them by showing confidence in their abilities and potential, and give them the platform to flourish and grow.

Life Changes Trust

Chief officers

When we say chief officers, we mean the chief constable and chief executives of health boards and local authorities who are responsible for ensuring their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014 and refreshed in ‘Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities 2019’.

Chief Officers Groups (COG)

Chief Officers Groups (COG) provide strategic oversight of key partnership functions in the protection of children and young people across partnership areas.

Our definition

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

NHS Scotland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are multi-disciplinary teams that provide (i) assessment and treatment/interventions in the context of emotional, developmental, environmental and social factors for children and young people experiencing mental health problems, and (ii) training, consultation, advice and support to professionals working with children, young people and their families.

Scottish Government Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services: national service specification

Child, or children and young people

When we say child or children, we mean a person or persons up to the age of 18. We recognise that throughout Scottish legislation this term can differ, but our definition is based on Article 1 of the UNCRC

We use the term children and young people to refer to children up to the age of 18 and care leavers up to the age of 26.

Our definition

Child’s plan

When we say child’s plan, we mean the plan for an individual child that sets out desired outcomes identified in any assessments and the actions needed to achieve these outcomes.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Child protection

When we say child protection, we mean protecting a child from abuse or neglect. Child protection work (e.g. investigations, assessments, meetings and plans) involve staff from different organisations considering the likelihood of future significant harm to the child and working together with the family to address the identified risks.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014

Child Protection Committees

Child Protection Committees are the key local bodies for developing, implementing and improving child protection strategy across and between agencies, bodies and the local community. CPCs are expected to perform a number of crucial functions in order to jointly identify and manage risk to children and young people, monitor and improve performance and promote the ethos that "It's everyone's job to make sure I'm alright".

Scottish Government Protecting children and young people: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities

Child protection register

A child protection register is a central register of all children, including unborn babies, who are the subject of an inter-agency child protection plan. Each local authority may have its own register or may share a joint register with other local authorities.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014

Children and young people in need of care and protection

When we say children and young people in need of care and protection, we mean:

  • Children and young people who are, or have been, subject to child protection processes and/ or
  • Children, young people and young adults for whom community planning partnerships have corporate parenting responsibilities.

Our definition

Children’s services plan, or Children and young people's services plan (CSP)

A Children’s Service Plan is a strategic plan prepared by local authorities and relevant health boards. It sets out the provision of children’s services and related services in a local authority area.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014


A chronology sets out key events in sequential date order, giving a summary timeline of child and family circumstances, patterns of behaviour and trends in lifestyle that may greatly assist any assessment and analysis. They are a logical, methodical and systematic means of organising, merging and helping make sense of information. They also help to highlight gaps and omitted details that require further exploration, investigation and assessment.

Care Inspectorate Practice Guide to Chronologies 2017

Community Planning Partnership (CPP)

A community planning partnership is the local community planning forum for a local authority area. It is formed from representatives from key agencies and organisations from the public, community, voluntary and private sector. The partnership works together to plan and deliver services across the local authority area.

Our previous reports


When we say confidential, we mean that we remain vigilant about how we use sensitive or personal data in line with legislation and good practice. We will not attribute comments made during inspection to individuals in our public reporting of inspections.

However, all members of the inspection team have a duty to pass on concerns to a relevant service if a child or adult may be at risk of harm or being unsafe.

Our definition

Continuing care

When we say continuing care, we are referring to the legal term. Continuing care means a care leaver is enabled to remain in the placement that they were in when they were looked after away from home (i.e. in foster care, kinship care or residential care, but not secure care).

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Corporate parent

When we say corporate parent, we mean the organisations listed as corporate parents in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. Corporate parents have duties to uphold the rights and secure the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Education Scotland

Education Scotland is the national scrutiny body in Scotland for inspecting and supporting quality and improvement in learning and teaching.

Education Scotland website

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC)

Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) is a national policy designed to make sure that all children and young people get the help that they need when they need it.

GIRFEC policy

Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP)

Health and Social Care Partnerships, (HSCPs) are the organisations formed as part of the integration of services provided by Health Boards and Councils in Scotland under the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014. Each partnership is jointly run by the NHS and local authority. HSCPs manage community health services and create closer partnerships between health, social care and hospital-based services.

Our previous reports and NHSGGC website

Health and Social Care Standards

The Health and Social Care Standards set out what everyone should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland. They seek to provide better outcomes for everyone; to ensure that individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and that the basic human rights we are all entitled to are upheld.

Health and Social Care Standards 2018

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS)

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) is the national independent scrutiny body which aims to promote better quality health and social care for everyone in Scotland.

Healthcare Improvement Scotland website

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS)

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) is the national independent scrutiny body which holds powers to look into the state, effectiveness and efficiency of Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.

HMICS website

Independent Care Review

The Independent Care Review refers to the independent review of the care system in Scotland between 2017 and 2020 which looked at the underpinning legislation, practices, cultures and ethos. The review prioritised listening and heard over 5,500 experiences.  The Care Review published seven reports in February 2020.

Our definition

Initial referral discussions, inter-agency referral discussions or initial referral tripartite discussions (IRD)

An initial referral discussion, inter-agency referral discussion, or initial referral tripartite discussion (IRD) is the process of joint information sharing, assessment and decision-making about child protection concerns. The IRD is not a single event but takes the form of a process or series of discussions.

Our definition

Integration Joint Board (IJB)

An Integration Joint Board, or IJB, plans and commissions integrated health and social care services in their areas. IJBs are local government bodies, as defined by Section 106 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. They are responsible for overseeing the local HSCP and managing social care and health services in their area.

Audit Scotland

Integration of health and social care

Across Scotland, NHS boards and local authorities are legally required to integrate the governance, planning and resourcing of adult social care services, adult primary care and community health services and some hospital services. They also have the option to integrate children’s health and social care services as well as criminal justice services.

Defined in Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014


Joint inspection of children and young people in need of care and protection

When we say joint inspection of children and young people in need of care and protection, or joint inspection, we mean the current model of joint inspection led by the Care Inspectorate and supported by scrutiny partners. Joint inspections take a focused look at the provision of services in community planning partnerships for children and young people in need of care and protection.

Our definition

Kinship care



When we say a child is in kinship care, we mean a child who lives away from their parents with an adult who has a pre-existing relationship with the child (i.e. is a family member or friend).

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Lead professional

When we say lead professional, we mean a staff member who is identified to take on a coordinating role where concerns about wellbeing require intervention from more than one service or agency.

GIRFEC policy


When we say leaders, we mean chief officers and chief executives including chairs of the child protection committee, community planning partnership, integrated joint board and children's services planning group; child protection lead officer; chief social work officer; relevant heads of service in Education, Health, Police and Social Work and locality reporters’ manager; elected members and non-executive NHS board members; and any other relevant service senior leads.

Our definition

Looked after

When we say looked after, we are referring to the legal term. A looked after child or young person must fall into one of the following categories:

  • be living at home and subject to a compulsory supervision order (looked after at home).
  • be living in kinship care, foster care or a residential setting and subject to a compulsory supervision order (looked after away from home).
  • be accommodated by a local authority by a voluntary agreement (under S.25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995). This includes children and young people who receive a series of short-term overnight breaks only.
  • be subject to permanence orders granted by a court.
  • be subject to an order, authorisation or warrant made by the relevant authorities under chapters 2, 3 or 4 of Part II of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

Section 17 (6) Children Act (Scotland) 1995

Multi agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC)

MARACs are regular, local meetings where information about domestic abuse victims at risk of the most serious levels of harm (including murder) is shared between representatives from a range of local agencies to inform a co-ordinated action plan to increase the safety of the victim and their children.

Scottish Government Improving Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and interventions for victims of domestic abuse

Parent / carer

Whilst we recognise that the terms ‘parent’, ‘carer’ and ‘relevant person’ are all defined in legislation, when we say parent or carer, we mean this in a broader way to describe someone who takes on a parenting role.

Our definition

Participation and engagement

When we say participation and/or engagement we mean the act of ensuring the right of a child or young person to take part, and be involved actively and meaningfully throughout the processes of assessment, decision-making, actions and interventions which relate to them and which lead to tangible outcomes and improvements in their lives.

Our definition


When we say partnerships, we mean groups of services and organisations who have joint responsibilities for improving services for children and young people in need of care and protection.

See also our definition of community planning partnerships above.

Our definition


When we say pathways, we mean the paperwork and processes available to assist local authorities to carry out assessment, planning and co-ordination for (prospective) care leavers.

Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland - Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities (2004)


When we say permanence, we mean the process by which looked after children are provided with a settled, secure and permanent place to live.

We recognise that there are four routes to permanence: returning permanently to the care of a parent; being adopted; being in a long-term care placement secured by a permanence order; or being in a kinship placement secured by a kinship care order (residence order).


Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE)

The Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE) programme aims to enable more looked after children to experience permanence by providing them with stability, including secure and nurturing relationships, in a setting that continues to adulthood. It supports local authorities and their partners to identify blockages or difficulties in securing permanence and to reduce delay where it is appropriate to do so.

Scottish Government Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE)

Scottish Care Leavers Covenant

The Scottish Care Leavers Covenant supports corporate parents to deliver changes in action and practice to bring improvement and consistency to the care of these young people. It offers clear guidance on how to meet the needs of young people who are often disadvantaged as a result of their care experiences.

Scottish Care Leavers Covenant

Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA)

The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration is a national body which focuses on children most at risk. Its role is to decide when a child needs to go to a Children’s Hearing, help children and families to take part in hearings and provide accommodation for hearings.

SCRA website

Scrutiny partners

When we say scrutiny partners, we mean the scrutiny bodies that take part in joint inspections. This includes the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland.

Our definition

Self-directed support

When we say self-directed support, we mean a way of providing social care support that empowers individuals and carers to have informed choice about how support is provided. The aim of self-directed support is to promote independence, informed choice and flexibility.

Self-directed Support (Scotland) Act 2013


When we say self-evaluation, we mean services taking a close look at what they have done and evaluating themselves and their progress against a prescribed set of standards. It is important because it helps services to see clearly what they are doing well and where they need to make improvements.

Our definition

Seven minute briefing

When we say seven minute briefing we are referring to an approach based on research which suggests that seven minutes is an ideal time span to concentrate and learn. Most local safeguarding boards in England and Wales have embedded this approach to deliver short briefings to staff on key topics and are used to support reflective discussion.

Our definition

Significant Case Review (SCR)

A significant case review (SCR) is carried out where a child has died, or has been significantly harmed, or where they have been at risk of harm. SCRs aim to find out if anything could have been done to prevent harm, and what could be done to stop a similar event happening in the future.

Care Inspectorate Learning from Significant Case Reviews in Scotland 2012 to 2015 Report


When we say staff, we mean people who are employed or volunteer to work directly or indirectly with children, young people and their families.

Our definition

Staying Put

When we say Staying Put we are referring to the Staying Put Scotland approach. The central elements of this philosophy of care being the importance of relationship-based practice,  extended and graduated transitions, as well as post-care accommodation options. Care planning decisions should be based on the assessed needs of individual care leavers.

Our definition


When we say stakeholder, we mean any individual, group or organisation with an interest in the work of services for children, young people and families.

Our definition

Strategic commissioning

Strategic commissioning is the term used for all the activities involved in assessing and forecasting needs, linking investment to agreed outcomes, considering options, planning the nature, range and quality of future services and working in partnership to put these in place.

Health and Social Care Integration Strategic Commissioning Plans Guidance 2014

Strategic Needs Assessment

A joint strategic needs assessment is a shared approach to assessing the needs of children and young people, with systems and processes in place to gather and analyse relevant quantitative and qualitative information, providing indicators of current and future need across different localities, ages and groups (e.g. looked after children).

Scottish Government Statutory Guidance on children services planning

Team around the child

A Team around the child is a single multi-agency planning process around the child’s plan with all relevant professionals involved.

Our definition

Third sector

Third sector includes voluntary and community organisations including both registered charities and other organisations such as associations, self-help groups and community groups, social enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives.

Our definition


When we say throughcare we mean the advice and assistance provided to looked after young people with a view to planning for continuing care or aftercare services. This is closely linked with pathways assessment and planning.

Previous reports

Trauma informed practice

When we say trauma informed practice we mean a strengths-based framework in children’s services grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasises physical, psychological, and emotional safety for everyone, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

Our definition

Young inspection volunteers

When we say young inspection volunteers, we mean young people (aged 18 - 26) with experience of care services who are specifically trained to support the Care Inspectorate with our inspections. They are part of the inspection team.

Our definition