Realigning Children's Services

The Realigning Children’s Services (RCS) programme works with a number of Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to support them 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 the need for costly acute or crisis intervention resources.

RCS is a way for CPPs to consider how local children’s services are ‘Getting it right for every child’ – Scotland’s national ambition. This way of working empowers services and families to work better together to offer the right help at the right time, from the right people.

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.

There have been 8 CPPs involved in the RCS programme since 2015. Clackmannanshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian (2015/2016) Falkirk and North Lanarkshire (2016/2017) and South Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway and Moray during 2018-19.

The CPPs:

  • Will have an evidence-based picture of what local children, aged 8-16, need of services that support them
  • Will have access to tools to help them comprehensively map their current children’s services
  • 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 of the requirements of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 regarding children’s services plans and reporting of outcomes.

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.

Pupils in both the primary and secondary school surveys are asked questions that related to six domains of interest: physical health and health behaviours, mental wellbeing, family relationships, peer relationships and friendships, learning environment, and their local area.

The Realigning Children’s Services programme uses the survey’s findings alongside some selected local authority’s administrative data on the levels of service provided to children and their families in their area. This provides a picture of how needs and service provision match.

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

  • Pupil survey of those in P5-P7
  • Pupil survey of those in S1-S4 – which some local authorities may include with the national SALSUS survey.

There is currently no data being collected as this part of the programme has been completed.

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.

ScotCen will produce local authority-wide reports based on the wellbeing data and how identified needs appear to be met by the CPP. Where schools have sufficient numbers of survey responses, reports on the wellbeing data will also be generated at school or school cluster level.

ScotCen will adhere to statistical disclosure control measures, this means not making available variables/sub groups of less than 20 and other data protection standards and principals to avoid the potential identification of children.

The SALSUS-only data from S2 and S4 pupils will also be published by SALSUS as part of their standard data collection and dissemination.


Data linkage is the secure process of adding together different types of information about individuals from different sources. It keeps all personal information safe and confidential. Further information about data linkage is available within the Professionals section of this website.

CPPs will link some administrative data on children from social work and educational records. This will allow CPPs to understand how far their children’s services are anticipating need and supporting local children and young people.

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.