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Getting it Right for Every Child ('GIRFEC' or 'Getting it Right') is Scotland's approach to supporting children and young people. The GIRFEC approach arose out of the review of the Children's Hearings System in 2004. It recognised that in order to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, agencies need to intervene earlier, in a better and more integrated way in response to identified needs and risks, and not when a threshold is reached to trigger action. The origins of the approach lie in the Kilbrandon Report (1964), reinforced by publications such as 'For Scotland's Children'.
It requires that services aimed at children and young people – social work, health, education, police, housing and voluntary organisations – adapt and streamline their systems and practices and work together. The approach encourages earlier intervention by professionals to avoid crisis situations at a later date.
Getting it right for every child is a change management programme designed to deliver a national approach to meeting the needs of – and improving outcomes for – all children and young people in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has finished consulting on a Children and Young People Bill which proposes to enshrine in law key elements of the Getting it Right approach.
There is much opposition to sections of the bill, not only from parents but also from the legal community. Many of the concerns being raised by the Scottish parents is that they are not being consulted on this bill and that they are being intentionally kept in the dark about what this means for their parental rights and responsibilities. Many parents are concerned that their opinions, rights and wishes are not being listened to by the SNP administration.
The SNP also appears to be ignoring important legal submissions as detailed below. More information can be downloaded and read below.
The faculty of Advocates is noted as saying in their submission.
This part of the Bill dilutes the legal role of parents,whether or not there is any difficulty in the way that parents are fulfilling their statutory responsibilities. It undermines family autonomy. It provides a potential platform for interference with private and family life in a way that could violate article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There may be cases where a ‘named person’ will be of assistance but the provision is not focused on the children for whom the measure would be helpful and it does not cohere with other similar measures for such children.
It is not necessary to violate the right to privacy and abrogate the data protection rights of all children and families in Scotland. The open transfer of data in the manner contemplated in the Bill represents a serious intrusion on individual rights. The data protection principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998 were developed to secure an appropriate balance between the need to process information and the need to protect the rights of the subject or source of the information. It is not clear how that balance is achieved in these proposals, which may in any event relate to matters reserved to Westminster.
As the Law Society of Scotland noted in its submission,
In relation to the information-sharing provisions, the policy memorandum explains that these provisions potentially engage Article 8. Leaving aside the EU implications, we would point out that data protection is reserved to the UK parliament and that legislation affecting data protection rights is outwith the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
The committee is also concerned that article 8 could be engaged in respect of the parent’s right to respect for private and family life, as there is scope for interference between the role of the named person and the exercise of a parent’s rights and responsibilities.
In the committee’s view, the SHANARRI indicators as set out in section 74(2) (namely Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, and Included) which together define “wellbeing” – while clearly desirable attributes for Scotland’s children and young people to have – do not offer a tool with which to make a clear assessment and in the committee’s view are not appropriate for enshrinement in primary legislation.
Some more links and information that are relevant to the context of this article .
Sharon Vincent, Brigid Daniel, Sharon Jackson. "Where now for ‘child protection’ in Scotland?". Child Abuse Review. 20 September 2010.