The following information relates to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill - Part 4 (Provision of Named Persons)
There has been a lot of debate surrounding this provision. The views of parents, guardians, health care professionals and charities have been voiced at many levels. Misinformation and misconceptions have been at the heart of most of the criticism levelled at the new provision. In reality, it is really just an enhancement of what already existed - the only real difference is, it enshrines the right to a Named Person in law.
The updated provision relies on the "Getting it right for Every Child" (GIRFEC) approach which improves the way services are delivered to children and young people. This approach has received welcome cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament and in local authorities.
Access to a Named Person is an entitlement for children and young people from birth to 18 years, or beyond if still in school. A form of the Named Person service is already operating across much of Scotland and this is planned to be available nationally by 31 August 2016.
What is a Named Person?
Health visitors or promoted teachers will be the Named Person for most children and young people. Integrating this role into their current practice will be very similar to what they already do in providing support and help, but it formalises their role as the main contact for children and families.
Identifying these professionals as a Named Person means that their organisations will have a duty to make sure they have the skills and support to enable them to consistently provide advice, information and help when it’s needed.
Some children and young people may have short-term difficulties, as a result of illness, bereavement or moving school, and some may live with challenges such as the effects of disability, or long-term conditions. While most will get all the help and support they need from their parents, wider family and community, sometimes they and their families may seek extra support.
What will a Named Person do?
The Named Person will be available to listen, advise and help a child or young person and their family, providing direct support or helping them to access other services. They can help families address their concerns early and prevent them becoming more serious.
They can also respond to requests for assistance from other services in situations where this may support the child’s or young person’s wellbeing.
The Top 10 Named Person Facts
1. A Named Person does not replace or change the role of a parent or carer, or undermine families
The rights and responsibilities of parents to raise their children and provide for their wellbeing needs stay the same. The Named Person’s role is to respond to requests for help from a child, young person or parent, and those who work with them where they have concerns for a child’s wellbeing. They will not interfere in things like how a child’s room is decorated, the TV programmes they watch, or in their religious or political beliefs.
2. The Named Person approach is not new
A form of the Named Person service is already operating across much of Scotland and builds on the supportive role teachers and health visitors have long offered to children and parents. The new legislation simply makes good practice the standard across Scotland so that support is available to all if they need it.
3. Children and parents have no obligation to use the service or take up the advice or help offered
Access to a Named Person is an entitlement. This ensures a child, young person, parent, family member or someone who works with them, knows who they can approach for help or advice if they need it. A Named Person has a duty to respond to a worry about a child’s or young person’s wellbeing, but there is no requirement for families to take up the offer of help. The Act does not however change the existing responsibility of the police or social work to act in cases where a child may be at risk of significant harm.
4. A Named Person will not directly access personal information
The Named Person will work with families, as health visitors and teachers already do, to understand individual circumstances. They will only receive information from other services or professionals if it’s relevant to the wellbeing of the child or young person, and it will help the Named Person carry out their role in supporting the child and their family. In most cases, the child or young person and parent will know what is being shared, with whom and for what purpose, and their views will be taken into account. Only in exceptional cases, such as where there is a concern for a child’s safety, will this not happen.
5. The creation of the Named Person service does not change privacy laws or infringe on human rights
Existing laws already permit information sharing when it is necessary to prevent or address a risk to wellbeing. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 sets out that sharing information with, and by, a child’s Named Person should take place in line with current legislation as confirmed by the Scottish Court’s ruling in September 2015. Lord Justice Clerk Lord Carloway, stated: “It has no effect whatsoever on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family.”
6. The Named Person will not be a social worker
They will typically be a health visitor for pre-school children and a head teacher, deputy head teacher or guidance teacher for school age children.
7. The Named Person service does not waste resources or jeopardise child safety
In fact, the GIRFEC approach has been found to reduce the amount of time teachers, health professionals, social workers, parents, and children and young people spend in meetings, and reduce caseloads for Social Work because support was given before problems turned into crises. Delivered by health and education services, the Named Person service will support specialist services, such as social work, as they continue to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families. It does not change or overrule current child protection procedures and the police and or social work should continue to be contacted immediately if a child is believed to be at risk of significant harm.
8. The Named Person role will not overburden teachers or health staff
Health visitors, promoted teachers, and others who will be a Named Person already have responsibilities for providing advice and support to children, young people, and families. The Scottish Government, local authorities, and health boards will provide guidance, training, and resources to assist them to carry out this role. It is the organisations providing the Named Person service, not individual Named Persons, who have legal responsibilities for the duties in the Act.
9. The Named Person is not a State Guardian
Parents and carers are, with very few exceptions, the best people to raise their children. The Named Person will have no duty to monitor family life. GIRFEC provides a common approach to thinking about wellbeing but does not introduce or impose a uniform set of wellbeing standards. The service recognises that each child and family situation is unique.
10. The Act does not give the Named Person a monitoring role
The Named Person will respond to information about wellbeing needs raised by the child, young person, parents or those who work with them. The Named Person will help put children, young people and families in control of getting help and support to overcome difficulties at the right time.
A wide range of children’s charities and professionals working daily to support families across the country support the Named Person service.
The following additional information is from a document produced by Children in Scotland and expresses the views of a number of Academic and Professional bodies as well as Charities working in this area.
Children in Scotland and the organisations named below support the following points concerning the Named Person section (part 4) of the proposed Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill.
Although as organisations we have been disappointed with or even critical of some aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill during its parliamentary passage, we all strongly support the Getting it right for Every Child approach (GIRFEC) in improving the way services are delivered to children and young people originally introduced under the previous Scottish Executive and being legislated to aid further roll out through this Bill
We note that since its introduction as a key policy and practice platform, GIRFEC has enjoyed cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament and in local authorities
The Named Person is a key element of GIRFEC ensuring that there is a point of contact for every child and their parents/carers to enable wellbeing concerns to be considered in the round and appropriate early support and early intervention to be delivered if required. In fact every child in the Highland area already has a Named Person
Evidence from the Highland GIRFEC Pathfinder shows that the named person can work well, having emerged from demands from families for a clear point of contact for support services and has formalised good practice for teachers and health professionals. It has meant issues, when they arise, are dealt with more effectively with less material passed to the children’s reporter
The Named Person is not a “social worker for every child” nor does it intend to usurp the role of parents and carers but should be a staff member who already has a duty of care towards a child through universal services (i.e. midwife, health visitor or head teacher) acting as a single point of contact for information and to provide appropriate support in navigating services that some parents sometimes want or need
In effect for most children this would be a midwife for the first 10 days, a health visitor until school age and a head or deputy head teacher for school-aged children, although responsibilities rest with the relevant NHS board or local authority respectively. The system ensures a better picture of how the child and family can best be supported and any action agreed is coordinated
The principles and practice of GIRFEC have been rolled out already by many local authorities across Scotland however the pace of change has not been as rapid as originally envisaged. The legislative framework is designed to ensure local authorities are supported in ensuring the GIRFEC principles are rolled out more effectively and consistently
Whilst as organisations we will continue to argue for further changes to the Children and Young People Bill, we are anxious that legitimate debate on this and other aspects of it is not overshadowed or distorted by misunderstanding and, in some cases, misrepresentation of the intentions and effect of this particular section of the Bill
We urge all MSPs to continue to support GIRFEC and in particular, the principle of the Named Person at Stage 3 of the Children and Young People Bill.
Signed by Children in Scotland, and the following organisations:
Parenting Across Scotland
Action for Children
Scottish Youth Parliament
Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights)
One Parent Families Scotland
Scottish Childminding Association
Royal College of Nursing