A joint inspection of services for children and young people at risk of harm in the Highland area has identified a range of improvements that are needed, along with some strengths.  

Key strengths were:

  • Staff responded promptly and effectively when concerns were raised about children and young people in the majority of cases. This response continued during the period of the pandemic and associated restrictions.
  • Information sharing and collaborative decision making were effective at keeping children and young people safe when concerns were first raised.  

Key areas for improvement were:

  • Immediate responses to concerns, and key processes, were more effective for younger children than they were for older young people.
  • Despite clear governance and reporting frameworks being in place, senior leaders were not effectively communicating their vision, values and aims to frontline staff who, in turn, felt their concerns about service delivery were not being heard.
  • The lack of early intervention and mental health and wellbeing resources was having a significant impact on children and young people at risk of harm, as well as on the capacity of frontline staff to meet their needs.
  • The partnership’s ability to demonstrate the difference services were collectively making to the lives of children and young people was restricted because it was not systematically analysing and evaluating its data and not maximising opportunities to collate qualitative data.

Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “Chief officers in Highland recognise their critical leadership role and have given their commitment to taking forward improvements in the areas identified in this report. Their work needs to be supported by a shared approach to decision-making, commissioning and budgeting arrangements. To achieve success, staff from across the range of organisations, including third sector partners, need to be fully engaged in the improvement journey and confident that their voice is heard and their contribution understood.  

“There should also be effective mechanisms in place to hear the voices of children and young people, particularly the voices of those at risk of harm, and use them to shape practice and inform strategic planning. Governance and reporting frameworks should be strengthened by embedding the recently developed quality assurance strategy and audit cycles and by more effective collection and use of outcomes-based data.”

The full report can be read here.

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