Child Protection Improvement Programme

Child Protection Improvement Programme – Update #1

October 12, 2016 by No Comments | Category Our Work


Hello and welcome to the Scottish Government’s update on the Child Protection Improvement Programme (CPIP). We aim to issue new updates every 6 weeks to keep you informed of developments in the programme of this important work as it progresses towards its December reporting date and beyond.

Included in this first post;

The Child Protection Improvement Plan – Our Vision

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning announced a Child Protection Improvement Programme in February 2016, recognising the strengths of our existing Child Protection system, particularly the commitment of all those working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Scotland’s children and young people, but also identifying that there was scope for improvement to address weaknesses identified in the Care Inspectorate Triennial review, the Brock report and the Daniel Review.

Our vision is for a Child Protection System in Scotland that keeps children safer from abuse and neglect by placing the wellbeing of Scotland’s children at the heart of everything it does. It is a system that:

  • is embedded within Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) and underpinned by prevention, early intervention and partnership working, recognising that child wellbeing and protection is a collective responsibility
  • engages with families early and listens to children, young people and families in order to provide the right support at the right time
  • enables practitioners to make the right decisions at the right time to protect children where support is not working
  • is transparent and learning, using evidence to effect practice improvements
  • values and supports its workforce
  • is underpinned by children’s rights
  • recognises the importance of relationships both within families and between families and professionals

The Child Protection Improvement Programme

Below is a very brief summary of each of the areas of work which will combine to make up the programme and achieve the vision described above. See beneath for how to access further information on the programme. Each of these headings link to the relevant page on the Scottish Government website.

  1. Systems Review Group

The group is conducting a review of the formal child protection system in Scotland.  Catherine Dyer is  the  independent chair of the group and key external stakeholders are  examining the effectiveness of the current system. The first meeting of the group took place on the 19th of August and a summary of this is now available on the Scottish Government website here.

  1. Children’s Hearings

Led by the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership (CHIP), this area of work is  examining consistency of practice in children’s hearings, whether staff are equipped to deal effectively with legal representation, and whether the system is effective for our youngest and oldest children.

  1. Leadership and Workforce Development

Output from a Practitioner Event held on 18th May 2016 and the Leadership Summit on 3 June have helped us to create a clearer national understanding of the leadership and workforce challenges for child protection. We are working with different leadership organisations across Scotland to map the leadership and workforce events which are already planned, or underway, to identify opportunities for the promotion of these and identify gaps so that the Scottish Government can support and empower senior leaders across the sector to drive their organisations forward and effectively disseminate their vision.

  1. Inspections

Working in conjunction with Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate, this area of work will review and evaluate the efficacy of the current inspections’ process. It will further examine whether a more targeted process could provide more comprehensive management data on the experiences and outcomes of Scotland’s vulnerable children, with a view to getting early feedback and learning into the system more efficiently and effectively.

  1. Neglect

This area of work has been tasked with testing examples of ‘promising practice’ in localised settings and updating . Work is underway with delivery partners to design and structure some intensive work with local authorities that identifies and tests this promising practice and research activities designed to support the promotion of sustainable practice improvement, are also underway,  In addition a review of  s. 12 Children and Young Persons Act 1937 (cruelty to persons under 16 is also underway. More in on Neglect in the feature below.

  1. Data and Evidence

This is a cross-cutting area of work, the current landscape of data and evidence will be mapped to examine where there might be gaps in existing data capture. The predominant focus of this area of work is to explore how a holistic data and evidence base could be developed to inform day-to-day management and facilitate on-going improvement.

  1. Child Sexual Exploitation

Work will continue with stakeholders to implement the National Action Plan to prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation.

  1. Internet Safety

The focus of this area of work will be to refresh the internet safety action plan alongside key stakeholder groups.

  1. Trafficking

This area of work focuses specifically on the children’s provision of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015. A priority is to ensure that child protection concerns are fed directly into Scotland’s first Human Trafficking and Exploitation strategy, to be published in November.


As mentioned above, neglect is an area of the Child Protection Improvement Programme currently being developed and in this blog post we take a more detailed look at the background to this important work.

We are actively working with expert delivery partners to undertake a test programme of neglect improvement work in three local authority areas. Tackling both the prevalence and persistence of child neglect, and working to alleviate its damaging long-term effects, by improving the responses of professionals across the spectrum of universal and children’s services, is a cornerstone of the Child Protection Improvement Programme.

We know that emotional abuse and neglect remain the most common reasons for a child or young person to be registered on a child protection register, equally they are the most common reasons for a child to be subject to a Child Protection Plan. As at 31 July 2015, 2,751 children were subject to a child protection register registration, with 39% of all registrations citing emotional abuse and 37% of all registrations citing neglect (Scottish Government, 2016).  Similarly, the ground ‘lack of parental care’ is the most commonly cited reason for referral to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), equating to some 6,017 children and young people across Scotland (SCRA, 2015).  Furthermore, we know that these statistical measures are only part of the picture, with some academic studies suggesting that as many as 1 in 10 children experience some form of neglect during their childhood (Radford, 2011)

The Neglect Improvement test of ‘promising practice’ is explicitly seeking to promote congruence with the GIRFEC national policy agenda and promote further investment in the development of frameworks for effective multi-disciplinary practice and the evaluation of outcomes.  The pilot will promote the synthesis of learning from different areas to promote the effective coordination of services across both universal services (education and health) and children’s services.  Work will also be undertaken to identify and develop integrated pathways of support, predicated on comprehensive neglect assessment tools and the effective management of thresholds for intervention.

The process of commissioning delivery partners to undertake the pilot was concluded over the Summer. The Centre of Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland, University of Strathclyde (CELCIS) and the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection, University of Stirling (CCWP) will both undertake a role in the delivery of the pilot, structuring its design and implementation in line with their respective areas of expertise.  An early priority will be to work with the selected local authority sites to undertake an assessment of needs and context.  Local governance arrangements will also be established to provide strategic advice and evaluate the improvement focussed activity taking place.  Recommendations emerging from the pilot will identify both existing areas of promising practice and the successful implementation of sustainable practice improvements.  Opportunities for wider learning and the sharing of that learning will also be explored.

The pilot will run to the end of the current financial year. Interim recommendations, based on the evaluation of local needs and context, will be provided to Ministers in December.  Findings from the pilot will be used to inform further neglect improvement activity.

External Advisory Group – Meeting Summary

The first meeting of the Child Protection Improvement Programme’s External Advisory Group was held at the Scottish Government offices at Victoria Quay in Leith on Tuesday 30th August. Full details of the meeting including documents and slides from the presentations can be found on our website here . A brief rundown of the presentations is included below;

Catherine Dyer, independent Chair of the Child Protection System Review, outlined the remit of the Review Group and discussed some of the work that had been completed already as part of the review. This included scoping work looking at existing research and evidence, and discussions with key experts. The Review Group is using evidence papers to inform discussions and has established an expectation that between meetings members will share the summaries of discussions with others and bring back any comments or views to the group. Catherine set out the timescale for the review which is meeting  between August and December and will provide recommendations to Ministers in December.

Sandra Aitken, from the Scottish Government Child Protection Team, led a session to discuss Joint Inspections and how they might be re-modelled in the next inspection cycle to focus more on vulnerable children and how learning from inspections can flow more quickly into the child protection system. The Slides from this presentation can be found here.

Fiona McDiarmid, Principal Research Officer presented an update on the outline of plans for the on the data and evidence programme – including the plans for data & evidence meetings.

The slides from this presentation can be found here.

Deborah Gallagher, from the Scottish Government Child Protection Team talked about how we would like to ensure that children’s views and experiences are listened to and reflected within the programme. Several members of the EAG made useful suggestions about how this might be achieved and Deborah is now following these up.

Professor Brigid Daniel (Director of the Centre for Child Wellbeing) and Fiona Mitchell (CELCIS) gave a presentation titled Tackling Child Neglect in Scotland – first step,  describing the collaborative work they are taking forward on the neglect improvement programme. The presentation firstly gave a background and context  of the landscape in which this work will be taken forward, highlighting the positive foundation of a strong recognition of the harmful impact of neglect, the need for it to be addressed and the GIRFEC framework which will enable an effective response. The challenges associated with this work, including the issues around tackling such a broad spectrum of concerns, were also acknowledged.  Details were given on the follow up to the 2012 neglect survey of CPCs (Child Protection Committees), the analysis of national policy and UK wide policy initiatives and literature review that are being progressed and the analysis and synthesis of existing toolkits.

The Slides from this presentation can be found here.


Further information

Please see the Scottish Government’s Child Protection page for further information or contact the programme’s Communications Manager with any queries, or if you would like to subscribe receive updates at

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