The Guide provides information for community planning partnerships (CPP) about the process for the joint inspection of services for children and young people at risk of harm.  This includes services for children under the age of 18 years at the point of involvement with services. It should be read in conjunction with the quality framework for children and young people in need of care and protection (QIF).

This section provides definitions of some of the key terms that may be used during the course of an inspection, or that may be included in inspection reports. If partnerships being inspected have any queries about any part of The Guide they should consult with their inspection lead, or with their link inspector if not being currently inspected.

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)


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful events occuring in childhood including: 

  • domestic violence
  • parental abandonment through separation or divorce
  • a parent with a mental health condition
  • being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • a member of the household being in prison
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.

Public Health Scotland and the Scottish ACEs Hub




Advocacy is about supporting a child to express their own needs and views and to make informed decisions on matters which influence their lives. Advocates do not make choices for children – instead, they support children and young people to make their own choices. Advocacy will most often be required where a child is engaging with a service, such as health, education, police, ir social work.

Scottish Government publication Children's advocacy guidance.




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 and risk management (CARM)


Care and Risk Management (CARM) are processes which are applied when a child between the ages of 12 and 17 has been involved in behaviours which could cause serious harm to others. This includes sexual or violent behaviour which may cause serious harm. CARM processes are also applicable when an escalation of behaviours suggests that an incident of a seriously harmful nature may be imminent.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021


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 ceased to be looked after on, or at any time after, 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 that their agencies, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible.

Defined in ‘Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities 2019’.

Chief Officers Groups (COG)


The collective expression for the Local Police Commander and Chief Executives of the local authority and NHS Board in each local area. Chief Officers are individually and collectively responsible for the leadership, direction and scrutiny of their respective child protection services and their Child Protection Committees.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

NHS Scotland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are multi-disciplinary teams that provide:

  1. assessment and treatment/interventions in the context of emotional, developmental, environmental and social factors for children and young people experiencing mental health problems, and
  2. training, consultation, advice and support to professionals working with children, young people and their families.

Scottish Government publication 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 (including unborn babies). 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 young person to mean children aged 13-17 to distinguish between this age group and younger children. 

Our definition

Childs network of support

A child’s network of support is the group of practitioners, family members and carers who are collectively responsible for giving effect to a child’s plan.

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 the processes involved in consideration, assessment and planning of required action, together with the actions themselves, where there are concerns that a child may be at risk of harm from abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

Child Protection Committees (CPC)

Child protection committees (CPC) are the locally-based, inter-agency strategic partnership responsible for child protection policy and practice across the public, private and Third Sectors. Working on behalf of Chief Officers, its role is to provide individual and collective leadership and direction for the management of child protection services in its area.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

Child protection register

All local authorities are responsible for maintaining a central register, known as the child protection register, for all children who are the subject of an inter-agency child protection plan. This includes unborn babies. The register has no legal status. This is an administrative system for alerting practitioners that there is sufficient professional concern about a child to warrant an inter-agency child protection plan. Local authority social work services are responsible for maintaining a register of all children in their area who are subject to a child protection plan. Some authorities may choose to maintain a joint register with other authorities.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

Children at risk of harm

When we say children at risk of harm we mean the extent to which children and young people are safer because they have received the right help at the right time to reduce risks. We will consider how the partnership has prioritised nurturing relationships to ensure children and young people experience a loving and stable home environment.

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

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.

Scottish Government Policy GIRFEC policy


Harm is the impairment of the health or development of the child, including, for example, impairment suffered as a result of seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. Risk in this context refers to the probability of harm given the presence of adverse factors in a child’s life. There is no statutory definition or uniform defining criterion for significant harm, which refers to serious interruption, change or damage to a child’s physical, emotional, intellectual or behavioural health and development.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

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

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

His 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 advocacy

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

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 is the start of the formal process of information sharing, assessment, analysis and decision-making following reported concern about abuse or neglect of a child or young person under the age of 18 years, in relation to familial and non-familial concerns. This may include discussion of concern relating to siblings or other children within the same context, and can refer to an unborn baby that may be exposed to current or future risk.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

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.

Scottish Government publication Integration Joint Board: roles, responsibilities and membership

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 Investigative Interviews (JII)

Joint Investigative Interviews (JII) are formal interviews of children conducted by trained police officers and social workers where there is a concern that a child is a victim of, or witness to, criminal conduct, and where there is information to suggest that the child has been or is being abused or neglected, or may be at risk of significant harm.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

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.

Scottish Government Policy 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

Learning Review

A Learning Review brings together agencies, individuals and families in a collective endeavour to learn from what has happened in order to improve and develop systems and practice in the future and thus better protect children and young people. The process is underpinned by the rights of children and young people as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  

NB. Until the updated national guidance for child protection was published in 2021 the term ‘significant case review’ (see below) was more commonly used.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection Committees undertaking Learning Reviews 2021

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

Named person

Named persons are a  core component of the GIRFEC approach, and are a professional point of contact within universal services, if a child, young person or their parents need information, advice or help. Local arrangements and the term used to describe this role or function may vary from area to area.

Defined in National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021

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

The Promise

The Promise is the main report of Scotland’s independent care review published in 2020. It reflects the views of over 5,500 care experienced children and adults, families and the paid and unpaid workforce. It described what Scotland must do to make sure that its most vulnerable children feel loved and have the childhood they deserve.


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 His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland.

Our definition


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


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

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 publication 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 involving those practitioners who support the child and family, and are likely to be participants at a child’s plan meeting.

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

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

Trauma-informed workforce

The Scottish Government ambition is for a trauma informed and trauma responsive workforce across Scotland, ensuring that services and care are delivered in ways that prevent further harm or re-traumatisation for children, young people or adults affected by psychological trauma, and supports their own unique journey of recovery.

Scottish Government publication Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma

Vulnerable young people's processes

When we say vulnerable young people’s processes, we mean processes that are designed primarily to support young people by working effectively to promote, support and safeguard the well-being of young people and vulnerable adults. This is relevant for those working in situations where concerns about the wellbeing of young people particularly those working with young people transitioning between child and adult services. The vulnerabilities can be because of the young person’s own behaviours or that of others towards them placing them at risk of significant harm.

Our definition


Section 96(2) of the 2014 Act describes wellbeing in terms of eight indicators. A person assessing a child or young person's wellbeing is to do so by reference to the extent to which the child or young person is or, as the case may be, would be:

  • Safe: protected from abuse, neglect or harm.
  • Healthy: having the best possible standards of physical and mental health, supported to make healthy and safe choices.
  • Achieving: accomplishing goals and boosting skills, confidence and self-esteem.
  • Nurtured: having a nurturing and stimulating place to live and grow.
  • Active: having opportunities to take part in activities.
  • Respected: being given a voice, being listened to, and being involved in the decisions which affect their wellbeing.
  • Responsible: taking an active role within their home, school and community.
  • Included: being a full member of the communities in which they live and learn, receiving help and guidance to overcome inequalities.

These eight wellbeing indicators are sometimes known collectively by the acronym ' SHANARRI'. While each indicator is separately defined, in practice they are connected and overlapping. Taken together the eight indicators offer a holistic view of each child or young person, identifying strengths as well as barriers to growth and development.

Defined in Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

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