Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Working to improve GIRFEC guidance

The Courier has reported on the consultation inviting views on the draft Statutory Guidance for the Named Person scheme.

"A Perth roadshow has revealed criticisms from professionals who will implement the Scottish Government’s controversial named person scheme."

"The way the flagship state guardians policy will operate in practice was attacked by experts during surveys held at the roadshow. More than half those quizzed consider the official guidance failed to give sufficient insight into how to provide the named person service to every child."

"The initiative, part of the Children and Young People’s (Scotland) Act, means children in Scotland will have a named teacher, health visitor or other professional looking out for their welfare. Supporters say the service will act as a safety net to help families and children if they need it, to speed things up and avoid families having to speak to numerous different services."

"However, the survey results, following meetings in Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh, revealed concerns from professionals who will be responsible for making the scheme work. Around 500 attended, including representatives from the NHS, social care, education, the third sector, police and local government."

"They also aired their concerns over the controversial issue of sharing confidential personal data on children and families."

"Less than 20% felt the guidance provided sufficient information to help establish systems to effectively manage information sharing with and by the Named Person..."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We have consulted widely to clarify the guidance to accompany the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) legislation and are delighted with the range and number of responses. [Really what is there to be delighted about ?]

"While the vast majority of public bodies have responded positively, we’re considering all responses to see what more we can do to make sure those working with children and families have clear and helpful guidance to implement GIRFEC effectively."

When it comes to their plans for Scottish children, being clear about it does not seem to be a strong point of the Scottish Government.

From their draft guidance:
The concern will arise from observation or assessment which indicates that one or more aspects of wellbeing is, or is at risk of being, adversely affected or subject to an effect by factors related to the child, or young person. Professional judgement based on experience and training (supported by local management structures and governance arrangements) and information about the child, or young person, and their circumstances, will be key to identifying wellbeing concerns. In some cases a single observation or incident may be judged to represent a risk to wellbeing and be considered a concern. In other cases the context of the observation or assessment, and wider knowledge of the child’s general wellbeing and circumstances may either heighten or reduce the concern.

Clear as mud and no wonder professionals are beginning to get a bit squeamish about it.

I would also like to know what a successful GIRFEC outcome is supposed to look like, given that GIRFEC assessments begin at conception and go on for eighteen years at least. Only professionals will have access to the confidential material they will use to make their decisions. The public is going to have to take it on trust that everything is being done appropriately because like child protection this will work in secret. But if the guidance is all over the place how can there be that trust ....?  

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