Reflections on the new Scottish innovative child protection system
Keywords:child protection, Scotland
This paper reflects on my work in Scotland in child protection during 2009 and 2010. It reflects on the Scotland I discovered and The Highlands I worked in. It describes recent innovative political decisions that have informed social work practice across all professions and government departments. It describes the implementation of an essentially simple system, which provides support for every child in need, specific to that need.
It is a system that could positively inform the further development of child protection in New Zealand. Given the current plan to seek ways to ‘modernise’ Child Youth and Family (CYF), this paper seeks to encourage a debate on the merits of this path-finding Scottish solution to their political, social, ethnic and professional barriers, which could also produce positive outcomes for children in New Zealand (Tolley, 2015).
It describes the overlaying of this approach on top of a professional workforce, despite the silo bureaucracy of service delivery and regardless of professional jealousies protecting individual professions. It describes the responsibilities of all who interact with children and sets certain overlying responsibilities for ‘named’ persons. In this way the responsibilities for the protection of children is moved from the realm of the social work profession, which is overloaded, as it is currently in New Zealand, and applied directly to all professions that interact with children.
The Scots have produced a reliable system which strengthens protective mechanisms at the point of service delivery to the child. This in turn develops a reliable and accountable protective society, in which children in need are identified early and supported throughout their contact with different services. The goal is an on-going intervention that can achieve change for the child and allow the child to reach their potential. It is an aspirational system of care, aiming for development of innate potential.
I reflect on the system and the safety it provided to myself as a social worker, the relief of ‘sharing’ child protection responsibilities with all other professions and the clarity of roles which defines this system.
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