Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Child protection expertise centre may be forced to close

"The controversial 'state guardian' scheme is facing a crisis before it has even begun after an advice centre designed to guide those monitoring Scottish children was threatened with closure. "

"From 31 August of this year, a `named person` will be appointed to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland."

"But experts claim moves to slash funding for a centre of child protection expertise would `cut the feet` from under the contentious named persons scheme. "

"Fears have been raised that WithScotland, which would be [able to] help advise named persons such as teachers, midwives or health visitors, will be forced to close if the Scottish Government withdraw £150,000 of annual funding..."

"Donald Urquhart, former chair of Glasgow's Child Protection Committee, said in a letter to the Scottish Government's director for children's rights and wellbeing that the planned funding cut `flies in the face of logic`. "

"He said: `The loss of WithScotland would be a seriously retrograde step and leave Named Persons, who now have been given frontline child protection responsibilities, without a valuable and unique source of support information or advice...`"

"A government spokeswoman denied there had been any reduction in funding to child protection.  She added: `The Scottish Government regularly reviews how its grant support can have the greatest impact and ensure we provide the best level of support.`"

"In February, it announced a 'comprehensive' programme aimed at improving the child protection system."

From the Scottish Government website about the child protection review:

"In a statement to Parliament, Education Secretary Angela Constance said the review will strengthen the steps taken when children have experienced, or are at risk from, harm.

It will make recommendations by the end of 2016 and focus on:

Child Protection Committees
Initial Case Reviews
Significant Case Reviews
The Child Protection Register

The Education Secretary also announced funding for the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland for child protection work. " [CELCIS] So funding for some, and not others.

What they are doing is trying to improve the identification of vulnerability, risk and harm in order to intervene early which is a big part of the Named Person scheme. 

But as Professor Susan McVie at the School of Law in the University of Edinburgh has said "Early identification of at-risk children is not a water-tight process and may be iatrogenic." [It may do more harm than good] She is talking about children who go on to live criminal lifestyles but the same argument can be used for other vulnerabilities too. It`s not a water-tight process. So why remove a valuable and unique source of support information or advice for Named Persons?

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