Agencies within Argyll and Bute have welcomed an inspection report on its services to protect children and young people.
However, the document identifies a weakness in initial response to child protection issues, and partners are actively working to address this.
The inspection, carried out by Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS), looked at the services provided by social work, education, health, the police, the Children’s Reporter and voluntary and independent organisations.
The report highlights particular strengths which inspectors felt made a difference to children and families, which include:
- High quality support in schools to help children learn and develop well
- Staff persistence in building relationships with families and helping them understand what they need to do to reduce risks for their children
- Helping vulnerable children learn how to keep themselves safe
As an example of good practice, it also highlights the support for Oban High School pupils and their families through staff from different services working closely together.
In the evaluations section, the inspectors scored three areas as ‘good’ – ‘children are listened to and respected’, ‘children are helped to keep safe’ and ‘meeting needs and reducing long term harm’.
The report states that “overall, staff identify vulnerable children and families at an early stage and provide a range of effective supports to prevent difficulties or stop problems getting worse.”
It did, however, identify that more work needs to be done on improving the initial response of staff to children who may be in need of protection, highlighting some weaknesses in communication.
Argyll and Bute’s spokesperson for social affairs, Councillor Andrew Nisbet, said there was much to be pleased with, as well as further work to be undertaken.
“This is obviously vital work which the council and its partners carry out in order to help and support some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” he added.
“The inspectors have had many positive things to say about the service and the effect it is having on those who use it. I am particularly pleased that the commitment of our staff to improving services and achieving better outcomes for children has been highlighted.
“We will continue to work with our partners and others on improvements to ensure that vulnerable children in Argyll and Bute receive the appropriate protection, support and encouragement to improve their lives, both in the short and longer term.”
Councillor Nisbet said that work had already begun to address the issues raised in the report.
“While most of what the report had to say was very positive, parts of it highlight areas in which work remains to be done, and we are addressing those as a matter of urgency,” he added.
“The report highlights a number of process weaknesses where opportunities to improve information sharing exist, and we have already implemented steps to address and overcome these.
“We are acutely aware that there is no room for complacency in the child protection arena, and we will continue to strive towards improving every aspect of the services which we and our partners provide to protect children and young people in Argyll and Bute.”