l-r David Cumming, Independent Chair, Chief Inspector Gillian MacDonald, Eileen Howat, Chief Executive, South Ayrshire Council and John Burns, Chief Executive NHS Ayrshire & Arran.
We must work together to protect children across Ayrshire and keep them safe from harm and abuse. This is a key message in South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee's Annual Report 2013 and Improvement Plan 2013-16.
The report also highlights the work being done locally to help protect children and the achievements as well as reinforcing the aims and vision for the future.
South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee (CPC) is the local strategic planning partnership responsible for delivering continuous improvement in protection of children in South Ayrshire.
The aims of the CPC are to: improve the safety of children in South Ayrshire; provide an integrated approach to identifying, intervening and providing ongoing support to protect children at risk of harm; improve the range and availability of services aimed at protecting children in South Ayrshire; provide public information about child protection; make sure staff are confident and competent and ensure continuous improvements by evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of our services.
The achievements of the CPC have been recognised by the Care Inspectorate following their joint inspection of services to protect children and young people in the South Ayrshire area. The work carried out makes a real difference to the safety of young people for example by:
- Refreshing the child protection website, making access for users easier and clearer and working closely with children and education staff in schools. As a result, 92% of secondary school age children advised that they knew what to do if they were worried about their own safety or protection and 91% knew what to do if they were worried about the safety of someone else.
- Ensuring children who are affected by domestic abuse are given immediate support and protection when required, with the social work response team dealing with every case which needs immediate action.
- Supporting unborn babies and their parents who are identified through our High Risk pregnancy protocol. A dedicated Vulnerable Families Maternity Team works closely with the family and other professionals to assess the risk and where needed develop a child's plan to improve the wellbeing of the unborn baby and give it the best possible start in life. The Family Nurse Partnership programme has been introduced that supports vulnerable first time parents who are under the age of 20, so that they adopt healthier lifestyles for themselves and their babies; provide good care for their babies and plan their future. It offers intensive, structured home visiting, delivered by specially trained nurses, from early pregnancy until the child reaches 2 years of age.
The CPC's work is overseen by the chief officers responsible for services in South Ayrshire to protect children and meet their needs. The chief officers are Eileen Howat, Chief Executive, South Ayrshire Council, John Burns, Chief Executive, NHS Ayrshire & Arran and Chief Superintendent Gillian McDonald, Police Scotland.
David Cumming, Independent Chair of the South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee works closely with the Chief Officers' Group (COG).
Speaking at the launch of the annual report on behalf of the COG Eileen Howat said: "Protecting children and other vulnerable people in communities across South Ayrshire is at the heart of work carried out by South Ayrshire Council, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Police Scotland and other agencies. The protection of children is a clear priority when delivering services for children, and we will continue the excellent work outlined in the annual report."
Mr Cumming added: "Whatever risk of harm or danger children are exposed to including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect and exploitation we will all work in partnership with other agencies and the voluntary sector to do everything we can to protect them."
While carrying out their valuable work the CPC and those they work with strive to ensure that: children get the help they need when they need it; children are protected by timely and effective action; children are listened to and respected; information is shared about children where this is necessary to protect them and agencies individually and collectively, demonstrate leadership and accountability for their work and its effectiveness.
The joint working approach is intended to: improve the safety of children in South Ayrshire; provide an integrated approach to identifying, intervening and providing ongoing support to protect children at risk of harm; improve the range and availability of services aimed at protecting children in South Ayrshire; provide public information about child protection; ensure our staff are confident and competent; ensure continuous improvement by evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of our services.
Mr Cumming concluded: "We are working hard to ensure that we bring about better outcomes for children and the public are vital in helping us to do this. Members of the public who work or visit South Ayrshire are key in identifying and raising concerns about children that enables professionals to determine if any action is needed to protect them.
"We all have a responsibility to protect children and vulnerable people in our communities so if you think a child in your community may be at harm and unsafe speak out and help them."
The CPC annual report can be viewed at: http://www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk/childprotection/committee/