Joining the Dots: A better start for Scotland's children

Susan Deacon, former Health Minister and then-Honorary Professor at the University of Edinburgh, was commissioned by the Scottish Government to look at how the early years of a child's life can be improved.

It set out:

  • how a child's early years have a "profound impact...on their physical, mental and emotional development";
  • the need for "a serious note of urgency" in the debate;
  • the importance of "fundamental needs" like nurture, play and relationships;
  • the importance of prevention and early intervention;
  • the need to unlock the potential of people, families and communities;
  • the need for "simplification and consolidation" of policy and bureaucracy;
  • the key to change is "supporting, encouraging and resourcing professionals and communities to work together";
  • the need to "measure what matters"; and how
  • the role of government should be "as a facilitator and enabler of change".

It called for a consensus on the importance of a child's early years, with a decluttered policy, funding and measurement landscape.

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Christie Commission on the future delivery of public services

A Commission established by the Scottish Government on the future delivery of public services, chaired by Dr Campbell Christie CBE, former General Secretary of the STUC and President of the SCDI.

The Commission called for: a shift to prevention; greater integration; and improving services through transparency, innovation and use of digital technology.

The Commission recommended a programme of public services reform, where public services are:

  • built around people and communities;
  • working together to achieve outcomes;
  • prioritising prevention, reducing inequalities and promoting equality; and
  • committed to constant improvement, reducing costs, openness, transparency and accountability.

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Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011

An Act to reform and modernise the Children's Hearings system. The Act made structural changes to increase consistency across the system and strengthen human rights principles.

To strengthen children's rights, the Act:

  • provided for the development of an advocacy service specifically for children in the hearings system;
  • ensured offence grounds accepted or established are no longer classed as a conviction (except for certain serious offences);
  • gives children's hearings the power to withhold information that could put a child at risk;
  • ensured the children's view is considered;
  • introduced a legal representation scheme run by the Scottish Legal Aid Board;
  • introduced greater transparency in the decision-making process around secure accommodation;
  • introducing a feedback loop to permit information sharing about compulsory supervision orders; and
  • modernising the grounds for a child's referral to a hearing.

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