The Independent Care Review conclusions stipulate that all children and young people will experience transitions in their care as consistent, caring, integrated and focused on their needs. Key to supporting transitions into permanent fostering, kinship care or adoption is the removal of barriers for children and young people to maintain relationships with all those important to them. To enable these recommendations to be actualised, the Promise Scotland’s Plan 21-25 highlights the need for local authorities and heath boards to take active responsibility for care experienced young people during these transitions through a joined-up approach to meeting their needs.
Last year, funded by the CORRA Promise Partnership, AFKA Scotland worked with six Local Authorities, including Aberdeenshire, to develop the Staying Connected Toolkit. This toolkit is designed to assist social workers across Scotland feel more confident in their knowledge, skills, and responsibilities during these transitions. The aim of this free resource is to help create greater national consistency in how social work practitioners and managers support children, young people and their families during moves in their care. Within this toolkit the tools are the workers themselves, with the training notes, PowerPoint slides, informational videos, research insights, and activities provided within it resources to assist workers to understand their roles and responsibilities during and beyond these moves.
However, we know that social workers are not the only professionals that have an important role in ensuring children and young people are supported during transitions in their care. Health and Education are key universal services that can have a huge impact on the lives of the care experienced population and an important role in children and young people’s experience of transitions. We also know that taking a resource that has been developed by social workers for social worker and simply trying to apply it to services as fundamentally different as Education and Health will not be an effective way of achieving the changes for children and young people that are needed.
Therefore, funded by the CORRA ‘Supporting the Workforce’ Promise Partnership workstream, we are now collaborating with Health, Education, and Social Work colleagues in Aberdeenshire to consider what health and education practitioners need to help them better understand and support children and young people moving into forms of permanent care.
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of this work is to support the health and education workforce in Aberdeenshire to be informed and confident in supporting children and young people through transitions to permanence and beyond. To achieve this, we have identified five key objectives for this project:
- To develop relationships with and between key practitioners and managers in health, education, and social work in Aberdeenshire.
- To explore with health and education colleagues, current practices including the levels of understanding and involvement they have in relation to transitions to permanence for children, young people, and families; and the systems in place to support these.
- In collaboration with the workforce, identify any practice or system-led gaps and process ‘pain points’ in their sectors and co-produce potential solutions to these.
- To pilot and test these solutions.
- To capture learning from this project so that it can be shared within and beyond Aberdeenshire to assist practitioners and services across Scotland to consider their role in supporting good transitions into permanent forms of care for children & young people.
How Do We Plan to Achieve these Objectives?
We plan to run a series of in-person workshops across the first half of 2024 with key practitioners in education and health to explore current knowledge and practice in this area; identify gaps and barriers; and to support the development of co-produced potential solutions. The focus on education and health will be distinct and so workshops have been designed for those in education separately to those in health. However, a final workshop will also be organised to bring all those involved in the project together, including key stakeholders from social work, to share learning and discuss potential solutions that have been identified across the different sectors.