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It's everyone's job to make sure I'm alright, 25/11/02 [S]

It's everyone's job to make sure I'm alright presents the findings of the Child Protection Audit and Review. The review was set up to improve child protection arrangements in Scotland and reduce the number of children and young people abused and neglected in Scotland while improving the services offered to affected children.



Context
The review of child protection was set up in March 2001 after the death of toddler Kennedy McFarlane, a three year old who died after horrific abuse from her step father in Dumfries. The report of the inquiry, Dumfries and Galloway Child Protection Committee Report, recommended there should be a multi-disciplinary review of child protection in Scotland.

Remit of the Review
A multi-disciplinary team was established to carry out the audit and review of child protection. The team included professionals from education, the police, medicine, nursing, the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration and social work.

The remit of the Review was:

  • To review, throughout Scotland, the practice of medical, nursing, social work, police, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, education and other public, voluntary and private sector staff to examine how well these:

    identify those children who may be being abused or neglected;
    reduce such abuse and neglect;
    meet these children's needs; and
    make plans for the future wellbeing of these children


  • To review how well agencies work together and public and professional confidence in these services

  • To review how well professionals work together and public and professional confidence in the way they work

  • To identify best practice

  • To learn lessons from international developments in this field

  • To report and make recommendations to improve professional working and the regulatory framework within which professionals operate


Main Findings
  • In over half of the local authority child protection cases investigated the children and young people involved were not getting the protection they needed or were only partially protected


  • In many cases more could have been done by agencies to help those children and young people


  • Many adults and children have little confidence in the child protection system and are considerably reluctant to report concerns about abuse or neglect


  • The child protection system does not always work well for those children and adults who become involved in it


  • Outcomes for children were found to be highly dependent on social work doing well. Where social work performed well outcomes were generally good and when they performed less well outcomes were generally poor


  • Where children were not protected or their needs were not met this was often the result of poor assessments and enquiries which were not sufficiently extensive


  • Practice was generally better for new babies where parents had a learning disability, mental health problem, or drug problem


  • Where, to secure their safety, children were placed successfully in foster care their circumstances, particularly material and health circumstances, often improved


  • Good workers made a difference to the outcomes for children


  • Where the child protection system relied on criminal prosecution to protect children outcomes were not always good because the abuser was not always prosecuted or convicted and often remained a threat


  • Parents do not always feel that the child protection system is working effectively. They are not always happy with the response they receive from child protection agencies


Recommendations
The review team made 17 recommendations to the Scottish Executive following the audit and review. The recommendations identify action that can be taken immediately to protect children and improve services as well as action that needs to take place over a longer time scale.

Some of the recommendations are:
  • Recommendation 1: All agencies should review their procedures and processes and put in place measures - to ensure that practitioners have access to the right information at the right time

  • Recommendation 3: The Scottish Executive should, in consultation with service providers, draw up standards of practice that reflect children's rights to be protected and to receive appropriate help

  • Recommendation 4: The Scottish Executive should revise the remit of the Child Protection Committees

  • Recommendation 14: The Scottish Executive should review the grounds for referral to the children's Hearing's system

  • Recommendation 16: The Scottish Executive in partnership with the regulatory bodies should consult on the minimum standards of professional knowledge and competence required of practitioners who undertake investigations, assessments and clinical diagnosis when working with children and their families

  • Recommendation 17: The Scottish Executive should; Establish a national implementation team to take forward the recommendations in the review, in particular the development of standards and local auditing processes; Establish a review process for annual reporting on progress and improvements; Implement a further national review of child protection in three years' time to be undertaken by a multi-disciplinary inspection team using this report as a baseline against which progress can be assessed


The Scottish Executive have outlined a programme of action in response to the review's findings including:

  • a three-year reform programme for child protection services

  • an expert team to oversee reform and tackle poor performance locally

  • a tough new inspection system to ensure reform is delivered

  • a Children's Charter setting out the support that every child has the right to expect

  • increased investment in helplines, including cash to allow Childline Scotland to increase by up to 60% the number of children it helps


Further Information
The review report can be viewed or downloaded from the Scottish Executive website. Hard copies of the report are available from:

The Stationery Office Bookshop
71 Lothian Road
Edinburgh
EH3 9AZ
Tel 0870 606 5566

To find out more about the Executive's action plan and other related documents including the findings from the consultation on the best way to improve protection of children and young people as part of the review please look at the related links o

Further Information

  1. Report of the Child Protection Audit and Review