The Care Inspectorate in Scotland has raised concerns about community planning partnerships in relation to their responsibilities as corporate parents.
Between 2018 and 2020, the Care Inspectorate led a series of joint inspections of services for children and young people in need of care and protection in community planning partnerships across eight areas in Scotland – in partnership with Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.
The joint inspections revealed a number of clear strengths, however, the Care Inspectorate said it was not confident about the approach of all partnerships in relation to their responsibilities as corporate parents.
“The collaborative leadership and governance arrangements for corporate parenting were less well evidenced across these joint inspections and not all children and young people for whom partnerships held corporate parenting responsibilities were supported to achieve their potential. In particular, young people leaving care were particularly disadvantaged and their health and wellbeing outcomes remained poorest among their care experienced peers,” said the report.
Inspections considered the differences services were making to the lives of children and young people in need of protection and for whom they have corporate parenting responsibilities. Inspectors spoke directly with 305 parents and carers and 647 children and young people across Scotland and discussed their experience of services. They also reviewed more than 754 case records relating to children and young people and analysed more than 7,000 staff survey responses.
The report said that most partnerships have invested in, and made commitments to, supporting children and young people in need of care and protection, particularly in a climate of reducing resources.
There were clear strengths made in areas such as:
- Increasing the proportion of community based and kinship care placements
- Reducing out of area placements
- Committed and caring staff investing in relationships which many children and young people were benefiting from
- Positive health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people as a result of the relationships with staff.
Furthermore, improvements have been made, across most of these partnerships, in relation to child protection. In general, governance processes were well embedded and the operational delivery of child protection services was strategically and collaboratively led. Most children and young people were being kept safe as a result of co-ordinated responses to risk of significant harm.
There remains room for improvement, however, in addressing the impact of cumulative harm, including domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation or neglect, and the identification of risk to older young people.
Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “Our strategic joint inspections, carried out with our partners, help us establish the impact services have on the lives of children and young people in Scotland, and to the lives of their families.
“We want to evaluate how well services are planned and delivered so that we can continue to see improvement and ensure that all children and young people are supported to reach their full potential.
“We recognise that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been significant on partnerships, services and, importantly, on children, young people and their families.
“This overview of the past two years of inspection work, although dating from before the pandemic, remains relevant as partnerships implement their recovery plans going forward and identifies areas of achievement and areas where more can, and must, be done,” he added.