At Staf we work to connect our members to increase good practice and improve the lives of care leavers. As part of this work, we are producing a series of blogs that summarise the key strengths identified by The Care Inspectorate in inspections of Staf members.

In the second blog of our ‘Spotlight on best practice’ series, we look at the joint inspection of services for children and young people in the City of Edinburgh Council completed in June 2019. Here’s what’s working well in Edinburgh in delivering services for young people leaving care and the practices that are driving improvements in performance.

A committed and caring throughcare and aftercare team

The multi-disciplinary throughcare and aftercare services were observed as successfully providing support to young people and making a key contribution to helping them gain independence. Young people were positive about the throughcare and aftercare team, with team members perceived as extremely caring and prepared to make every effort to help.

Bi-monthly meetings took place between the throughcare and aftercare team and social work practice teams, which were facilitating the transition process for young people. Leaders had invested in a multi-agency young person’s hub – a one-stop shop where a range of services were co-located in the city centre - which was valued by those who used it. The availability and accessibility of the hub for the majority of young people and the commitment of staff was a significant strength. Looked after children and young people also had access to free leisure activities, including a dedicated online Edinburgh Fringe Festival booking system which provided them with free tickets for events.

We heard positive feedback from young people about the throughcare and aftercare service. Young people said they experienced caring, strong and trusting relationships and they were given help to stay motivated in times of crisis. Help with budgeting, access to funding for further education, planning for further education and access to leisure facilities were all helping to improve their transition to young adulthood. The number of young people who had left care and maintained contact with their social worker was above the national average.

A supported and supportive workforce

The report notes that vulnerable children, young people and families were benefiting from the support of a competent and confident workforce, where practitioners across services were working alongside families to optimise their wellbeing. Staff were helped and guided by managers and peers to reflect on their practice and develop their skills and experience. A broad range of multi-agency training was available and many staff stated this had contributed to their professional development.

The Care Inspectorate highlighted that staff were well motivated and felt valued; a learning culture was preparing practitioners to confidently fulfil their roles. This culture was noted as being present throughout all the levels of the workforce: senior leaders shared a common purpose, and the values of strengths-based and restorative approaches were shared across all levels of leadership.

Staff are competent, confident and clear in their understanding about the expectations of their roles with children in need of care and protection. Supported by collaborative leaders and a positive approach to learning and development, they can further build on the good practice we have seen. […] Leaders fostered a learning culture and used reviews and case discussion to help staff and influence practice. A restorative, strength-based approach was impacting positively on families and staff.

Development and delivery of relationship-based practice

The Care Inspectorate noted that staff were encouraged and supported to deliver relationship-based practice and as such all understood the importance of building and sustaining positive relationships with children, young people and families.

Looked after children and young people benefited from key, positive relationships with staff and carers and felt that they were treated with respect. It was further observed in particular that foster and kinship carers were helping many children and young people to recover from adverse experiences by providing stability, security and by building trusting and supportive relationships.

The partnership’s work to embed relationship- and strengths-based practice had impacted positively on looked after children’s wellbeing. There was a purposeful commitment to evidence-based interventions to help children and young people make the changes they needed.

Improving post-school destinations 

Initial destinations for looked after school leavers are improving, and the report notes a range of initiatives that have been introduced in the City of Edinburgh Council to support young people in moving into positive destinations:  

  • Staff are trained to understand the specific needs of care-experienced young people
  • Schools had introduced a key adult system, which was providing a consistent contact person to support young people’s additional needs
  • Young people with anxiety or mental health issues were being supported to use ‘time out’ passes in college
  • Skills Development Scotland careers advisers were supporting looked after young people who were at risk of not having a positive destination once school had finished
  • A ‘Job-Club’ was helping young people access education, training and employment and meet the requirements of the Job Centre
  • The Hub for SUCCESS (Support for University and College for Care Experienced in South East Scotland) was launched to help improve educational outcomes for looked after young people

It was further highlighted that young people with experience of foster care spoke positively about the help they received and felt that they were being equipped with the skills to live independently. The partnership had also made a meaningful commitment to the ongoing development of the champions board, with two young people having been recently recruited as participation officers within the local authority to support the board. 

The partnership was working hard to help care experienced young people succeed in their transition to adulthood. Young people were being given the support they needed with health, education and employment to help plan towards their futures. […] Partners had recognised a need to improve educational outcomes and positive destinations for looked after young people and the picture for care experienced school leavers was improving.

Strengthening community care

More children are now being looked after in community settings as a result of planned initiatives to strengthen kinship care and keep children at home, with the partnership effectively improving the balance of care towards family settings in the community.  

Universally delivered parenting programmes and other supports, such as Family group decision making, were helping keep children and young people at home or in kinship care alternatives. Parents and carers reported very positively on the support they received and said it was helping them support and improve their children’s wellbeing. Additionally, staff commitment and increasing confidence in managing risk were helping to reduce the need for secure care.

Progress was being made towards maximising the wellbeing of children and young people who were looked after, through good care planning and review. Practice was impacting positively on children and young people’s lives and keeping more children at home or in kinship care. Partners were also working hard to help those children and young people living in foster care or residential homes benefit from stable care arrangements. 


The Care Inspectorate joint inspection of services for children and young people in the City of Edinburgh highlights a range of positive practice: a multi-disciplinary throughcare and aftercare service that supports young people in the transition to in(ter)dependence; strong, trusting relationships between staff and young people; a working environment where a ‘learning culture’ has been strongly developed; the introduction of tangible initiatives to improve positive destinations; and centring stability at the heart of care planning.

On the areas for improvement, the report is optimistic that the partnership can continue to build on the good practice highlighted above. It is noted that the self-evaluation submitted by the partnership as part of this inspection demonstrated its knowledge of areas of improvement and reflected a collaborative response that included staff at all levels. Services were described as responsive to the needs of children and young people and The Care Inspectorate observed there is a willingness to try new approaches and look for solutions.

The City of Edinburgh Council was awarded a ‘Very Good’ rating – the second highest awarded by The Care Inspectorate – within the category of ‘How well does the partnership meets the needs of stakeholders?’ regarding the impact on children and young people. This is testament to the hard work of the partnership in enabling positive and caring relationships to flourish.

You can read the Care Inspectorate report in full here.

If you’re a Staf member and want to talk to us about best practice in your area, be featured in this blog series, or learn more about the great work happening elsewhere, contact us at [email protected]