03 December 2020

Joint action plan to support children and young people across Aberdeenshire

Further to extensive feedback from communities gathered earlier this year, a joint Children’s Services Plan for 2020-2023 in Aberdeenshire has now been agreed and published.

The plan sets out the strategic direction and objectives of Aberdeenshire Council, NHS Grampian, Police Scotland, the Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership, Grampian Fire Service, Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and third sector organisations represented by Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action (AVA) in meeting the needs of children and young people across the local area.

This joint work has been highlighted through a short video clip: https://bit.ly/CSP2020video

In terms of setting out the joint #AbshireCSP ambition:

“Our commitment to Aberdeenshire’s children and young people, is to provide them with the right support, in the right place, at the right time. in helping them reach individual potential and goals, we will work together to make Aberdeenshire the best place in Scotland to grow up.”

The plan also sets out priorities for all partner agencies to focus on and agreed actions to support all of these. The priorities are to work together to:

These priorities are underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach adopted by the Scottish Government. Both of these require that children, young people and families must have their views taken into account when decisions are being made about them.

With around 40,000 children learning in Aberdeenshire Council’s pre-school, primary and secondary education settings, Aberdeenshire’s child population is above the Scottish average and rising. Aberdeenshire Council Chief Executive Jim Savege reflected on his part in joint service planning as Chair of the Executive Group for Public Protection.

He said: It’s not just about the Council, the NHS, the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service, or the Third Sector. It’s about each and every one of us looking out for children, young people and families, and ensuring that support reaches where it is needed most.

“As senior officers we discuss challenges our organisations face and consider the strategies we are using to support people - what’s working well, and where opportunities lie. We make sure we provide leadership that motivates colleagues at all levels to continually aspire to improve the way we do things.”

More than 2,000 children and young people are supported through children’s services social work in Aberdeenshire. Of them, around 400 are care experienced, meaning that they are or have been in the care of the local authority. Corporate parenting means going the extra mile to offer a support network to these young people.

Chief Superintendent for Police Scotland George Mcdonald explained: “The Children’s Services Plan reflects our unwavering multi-agency commitment at all levels. It’s about how police officers work with teachers, health professionals, social workers, volunteers and support staff to get it right for every child and young person.

“It’s also about communities working together and listening to children and young people to ensure they have a say in matters which affect them. We have great opportunities to get involved and influence decision-making through Aberdeenshire’s Youth Participation Network.”

More than 13,000 children are supported by the Universal Health Visiting Pathway each year and many more benefit from a variety of services delivered by NHS Grampian and the Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

Caroline Hiscox, Chief Executive NHS Grampian commented: “Our collective, high quality, inclusive services promote resilience and wellbeing, and help mitigate against the impacts of inequality, poverty and disadvantage.

“Our approach is based on understanding a child in their current situation and making sure any wellbeing needs are identified as early as possible. Importantly, this means that we work together across services and with families in as coordinated a way as possible.”

Aberdeenshire Council Director of Education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay chairs Aberdeenshire’s GIRFEC Strategic Group which oversees the work of the joint children’s services planning partnership. He explained what matters most as well as how the work is delivered.

He said: “Together we make sure services work closely together to achieve our shared aims for children and young people, and that we deliver services rooted in caring and kindness.

“We review the progress of five thematic groups undertaking work linked to our priorities as well as 17 local area-based GIRFEC groups. The ongoing efforts of practitioners, professionals and volunteers across the board is second-to-none and I think it’s important we acknowledge and celebrate their dedication and commitment.”

Honing in on child protection specifically, Susan Maclaren chairs Aberdeenshire’s Child Protection Committee. She added: “In coordinating our approach locally to child protection, we know that the most common risk factors are domestic abuse, neglect, emotional and physical abuse; as well as risks relating to exploitation, use of the internet, social networking sites and mobile phones.

“What can we all do? I’m really keen to encourage all members of our communities to be aware, be vigilant and report any concerns you may have.”

Dan Shaw, Chief Executive of Aberdeenshire Voluntary Action also reflected on the crucial role of the third sector in addressing child poverty and supporting young carers in particular. He said: “Whether it’s helping young people achieve through accredited volunteering schemes or provision of family support through organisations like Homestart, or Quarriers delivering support for Young Carers, there is a range of Third Sector and funded providers helping us to Get it Right for Every Child in Aberdeenshire. We’re proud to play an important role alongside so many other professionals and it is very evident to me that collectively we are all always putting the best interests of children and young people first.”

The children’s services planning partnership also provides training, advice and professional learning opportunities to a wide range of practitioners across Aberdeenshire.

View the plan, see the actions as they are set out across the partnership and find out more on the GIRFEC Aberdeenshire website: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/ View a video clip about the new plan: https://bit.ly/CSP2020video You can also find a host of contact details to guide you if you have any child protection concerns at: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/report-a-concern/ Please call 999 in an emergency.