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Entries in GIRFEC (2)


Named Person training should stress including both parents

FNF Scotland has submitted its views to the Scottish Government consultation on the statutory guidance that will be underpin the recent Children and Young People Scotland Act 2014. The government invited views in particular on the parts of the Act that deal with “Wellbeing”, “the Named Person” and the new “Child's Plan”.

Our full submission will be published on the Scottish Government website in due course.

However our main observations attempted to draw the Scottish Government's attention to some of the looseness that remains in the draft guidance even though it runs to more than 100 pages.

Our submission points out:

* In the context of our experience supporting non-resident parents (and other family members) we are concerned that interventions often lack transparency and accountability and may take the child and family members down a route that suspends relationships for months or even years. Sometimes those relationships never recover. Our concern is that the interventions themselves sometimes become the focus and not the child.

* A large proportion of our casework raises instances in which professionals and institutions such as health providers and schools take a restrictive approach to their idea of family and will directly or indirectly exclude a non-resident parent, even one with Parental Rights and Responsibilities, from the kind of information and involvement that is necessary to underpin meaningful inclusion in family life with their child.

* It should be explicit in the Guidance that the information the Named Person “must have” should include the name and contact information for the non-resident parent and his/her formal or informal parenting time with his/her children. Our experience is that professionals too readily discount the positive contribution that the non resident parent can make to supporting their children through difficulties but are only too ready to include any adverse presumptions.

FNF Scotland National Manager, Ian Maxwell says, “Our hope is that in the future Scotland may move towards the Scandinavian model in which there is a default position of shared parenting of children whose parents do not live together. There is considerable research evidence that this model reduces the kind of conflict which takes up much court time in Scotland and drains the finances and emotions of separated parents. Shared parenting assists the emotional development of children. It improves their ability to form relationships in and out of school. It improves attainment at school and reduces discipline problems.

In the meantime we hope that if the Named Person training genuinely requires them to respect both parents equally and engage with both parents in working for the wellbeing of their children then this may be seen in time as a building block of an emotionally healthier Scotland.”


Work with fathers in order to safeguard children

Mark OsbornResearch by the Fatherhood Institute has highlighted the importance of social work and other shild protection services involving fathers and other men around children, rather than just dealing with mothers.

That’s the key conclusion of an article by their safeguarding programme manager Mark Osborn, published in Child Abuse & Neglect in June 2014, which stresses that ‘serious case review after serious case review highlights…that children are dying in our country when we do not assess and work with fathers and father figures effectively’

Mark's study reviewed the policies and procedures in six English local authorities alongside an audit of recorded practice to establish a structural view of how fathers are engaged and to make recommendations that would enable, and support, improved practices, and potentially address the culture within the organisation.  

Contrasting case studies mentioned in the paper show the need for change.  

In the first case there was an exemplary piece of social work practice to find a young mother who had not been in her child’s life for the previous two years.  The teenage mum had moved to another area of the country and the social worker followed up many leads and old addresses to try to find her.  Being unsuccessful in this, the detective work continued through contacts with a practitioner who worked with a sibling of the young mum.  Finally she was tracked down, contact was made, assessments were carried out, intervention took place, and eventually the young mum came back into the life of her child.  

The next file audited also involved a teenage pregnancy.  In this case the young father was living around the corner from his child and was not in contact with the child but he was expressing concerns for the child’s safety.  There was no record of any assessment, no intervention with him, he was not invited to meetings or conferences and was not included within the core group, but no reasons for these exclusions were recorded.

FNF Scotland hears similar stories from across Scotland from fathers who have been sidelined or ignored by child protection procedures.  We will highlight this study to the authorities responsible for Scotland's "Getting It Right For Every Child" procedures.