Realigning Children's Services

The Realigning Children’s Services (RCS) programme will work with Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to support communities to make better decisions – using high-quality data on local need – to improve the lives of children in their area. This is a Scottish Government-funded programme which started in 2015.

The public service reform agenda in Scotland provides a strong and consistent message regarding the importance of partnership working and service integration. It also emphasises the importance of shifting investment upstream in order to grow preventative and early intervention approaches and to reduce dependence upon costly acute or crisis intervention resources.

These are services delivered by the local authority, health board or other service provider that are wholly or mainly for the benefit of children generally or those with particular needs.

Community Planning Partnerships

Community Planning is a process whereby public services within a local authority are planned and provided, after consultation and (ongoing) co-operation between all public bodies and with community bodies. Community Planning is delivered by local Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). There are 32 in Scotland, one for each local authority area. The partnerships involve councils working with partners including the NHS, Police Scotland and a wide range of other organisations, such as Jobcentre Plus, Further and Higher Education institutions, Scottish Natural Heritage, third and private sectors.

As of September 2015, there are three CPPs participating in the programme – Clackmannanshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. Other CPPs are speaking with the Scottish Government about participating in 2016.

The CPPs:

  • Will have access to evidence on patterns of local children’s needs based on a census of children aged 8-16
  • Will have access to tools to help them comprehensively map their current children’s services it
  • Will have externally-facilitated discussions about their findings with consultants, to support decision-making on where we invest and reduce spending safely for better outcomes for children and their families
  • Can use the findings to report on Children and Young Peoples outcomes as part requirements of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 regarding children’s services plans and reporting of outcomes
  • Will, through a Joint Strategic Commissioning approach, improve collaboration and co-production in shaping children’s services.

Joint Strategic Commissioning is a methodology that helps to make sense of the complexity of strategic planning and budgeting, service design, procurement, internal service planning and performance management, and applying these disciplines in a multi-agency, cross-sector environment.

Data collection

Before we can begin improving children’s services we need to understand the wellbeing levels of our children and young people. The best way to do this is to let them tell us themselves.

Data will be collected on a number of topics related to wellbeing, including physical activity, diet and nutrition and substance use. The local authority will separately collect administrative data that provides an indication of the level of service it currently provides to children and their families in their area. This will safely be linked to the survey results.

Three surveys will be conducted to measure children and young people’s wellbeing:

  • Parent survey of children aged 0-8 years
  • Pupil survey of those in P5-P7
  • Pupil survey of those in S1-S4 – using the local authority boost option of the national SALSUS survey

The first wave of the data collection with the SALSUS plus Child Wellbeing Supplement will take place in secondary schools (S1-S4) between September and December 2015. The next wave will be primary schools (P5-P7), which will take place between January and March 2016. The parent survey will take place during April and May 2016.

Ipsos MORI and ScotCen Social Research will be undertaking the survey work on behalf of the RCS programme team at the Scottish Government and the CPPs involved.

The survey data will provide the basis of the wellbeing profile reports. The CPPs will use this data in their Joint Strategic Commissioning discussions to make informed decisions on children’s services within the local area.

ScotCen will produce local authority-wide reports on the wellbeing data and how identified needs appear to be met by the CPP. Where appropriate (taking school sizes into account), reports on the wellbeing data can be generated at school or school cluster level. ScotCen will adhere to statistical disclosure control measures on not making available variables/sub groups of less than 10 and other data protection standards and principals to avoid the potential for identification of data subjects. The CPPs will look to publish their Joint Strategic Commissioning plans by the end of 2016. The SALSUS-only data from S2 and S4 pupils will also be published by SALSUS as part of their standard data collection and dissemination.

It is the process of adding together different types of information about individuals from different sources. This information will be kept safe and confidential. Data linkage allows us to look at and compare anonymous information about children in the local area who are accessing support from social work and schools in relation to the survey answers. The graphic below shows how and why we are doing this.

Data Linkage

The data-linkage component of the RCS programme will allow CPPs to understand how far their children’s services are identifying and supporting those children and young people who are in need. CPPs will be able to examine information on children accessing social work services and educational additional support for learning services in relation to responses from the survey data.

Data linkage helps us to know how well children’s services are reaching the children who may need help. We are looking for patterns in wellbeing in the community so we can improve the quality and availability of children’ services in local areas.