Background & Context
In 2009, SCRA created a Participation Group to make SCRA and the Children’s Hearings System more accessible and more responsive to the needs of children, young people, their parents and carers, and to create long term, structured solution to support and enable the participation of children, young people and their parents/carers.
At that time, SCRA also appointed a Participation Officer, and significant progress has been made in terms of practice, policies, recruitment, property and communications. This section of our website gives an overview of our work.
In line with our Keeping The Promise and Corporate Parenting responsibilities, SCRA is committed to multiple areas of participatory practice. These include:
Improved communication with, and support to, children, young people, parents and carers, including electronic, paper-based and personalised services.
Throughout our participation and engagement journey, and more recently in line with The Promise, we have committed to building on our existing communications and developing new ones. The Participation Officer and the Participation Group worked with children and young people to develop and launch a new Hearing About Me form (which replaced the All About Me form), and it is available electronically, as well as in paper format. We have also created a variety of new leaflets, information films, podcasts, animations and information platforms on our website, many of which are either delivered or codesigned by Hearings experienced young people.
We have worked closely with partner agencies such as Our Hearings, Our Voice and Children’s Hearings Scotland to develop shared communications. Children, young people and families now have access to email addresses for Reporters. The highly successful take away sensory and colouring in kits which were introduced during the pandemic are now established in the longer term. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library book gifting programme for children five and under has been running for four years and we recently introduced a gifting library for older children in one of our Localities as a trial, which will be rolled out on a national basis over the coming months. The large sensory garden in Stirling was launched in 2019 and was revamped in 2022 and 2023. A sensory room for children and young people was launched in the Glenrothes office in March 2022 with plans to introduce more.
Provision of child-and-young-person friendly Hearing suites to promote a safe, inclusive and participative environment as a rolling programme, all of which have been design-led by Hearings experienced young people.
Since the project was launched in 2018 we have delivered over 40 new Hearing rooms from the portfolio which was co-designed by Hearings-experienced young people, with further rooms being rolled out in 2023/2024.
Building on existing relationships and forging new ones with key partners, we have been delivering ongoing participative work with key partners to improve the support they can offer to children, young people and families. We have also delivered national training to partner agencies to improve their knowledge and understanding of the Children’s Hearings System and legislation including advocacy providers. SCRA’s Press and Communications Team built the advocacy services website for children and young people wishing to access advocacy for Hearings, as well as supporting the development of other websites such as the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership and Our Hearings, Our Voice (OHOV). We continue to work closely with OHOV to improve and develop our services by responding to their 40 Calls to Action.
In response to Keeping The Promise, SCRA created its first internal care experienced staff group. The Voice of Experience Reference Group is a national group of staff with a variety of experiences of care and/or Children’s Hearings, either as children having attended Hearings or being in care, or as carers, parents, adoptive parents or kinship carers. The group considers current areas of practice and comes up with ideas for improvements as well as making suggestions for new projects. They submit reports to the Executive Management Team and the Keeping The Promise Programme Board.
SCRA’s commitment to providing national Modern Apprenticeships to young people who are or have been involved in the Children’s Hearings System and/or having been Looked After and Accommodated is successfully into its thirteenth year. The programme commenced in 2010 and we have recruited approximately every eighteen months since that time, including during the pandemic, and throughout Scotland. Almost all of our Modern Apprentices have gone on to secure permanent positions within SCRA. In 2015, we also introduced funded temporary work experience placements in partnership with Local Authorities for care-experienced young people, and we are introducing a tailored part time work experience programme in our Highlands and Islands Locality.
In addition to improving internal practice, communications and work opportunities for vulnerable young people, SCRA is committed to improve our external partnership work on both a local and national scale. SCRA has developed strong partnerships and working relationships with a variety of key agencies and organisations in order to promote improved child protection practice, an understanding of the Children’s Hearings System, and support to children, young people and families attending Children’s Hearings. Work streams include training and information sharing, delivering new communications, advocacy and support information, and improvements in tailoring information for enhanced service delivery.
SCRA has developed a suite of communications materials for children and young people including leaflets, films, cartoon animations and podcasts. These were all designed in consultation with or co-designed by children and young people, and can be downloaded from our website. They are regularly reviewed and updated.