The campaign to help keep South Ayrshire's children and young people safe and protect them from abuse and neglect enters a new phase in 2018. The South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee has identified a three strand approach to help prevent children being placed on the Child Protection Register.
The South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee is the local strategic planning partnership responsible for delivering continuous improvement in protecting children. Partners are South Ayrshire Council, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Police Scotland, the Scottish Children's Reporter's Administration (SCRA), and South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership.
During 2016/17 100 children from South Ayrshire were placed on the Child Protection Register, with 50% of registrations for unborn babies or children under four. Domestic abuse, parental/carer alcohol and/or drug misuse, and mental health issues were the most common areas of concern.
The vast majority (93%) of children are on the register for less than 12 months and come off registration when it's considered they are no longer at risk. Over the year 110 children were taken off registration. At any given time on average there are approximately 3 children in every 1,000 of the local 0-15 year old population on the child protection register. These levels are in line with national averages.
The South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee has published its Annual Report for 2016/17 and Priorities for 2017/18. Work in 2016/17 has seen services reviewed, joint agency working promoted to share best practice, a greater focus placed on staff training, and public awareness campaigns to highlight the expected response to child protection issues.
Priorities for 2017-18 include strategic planning to ensure services support key transitions between children's and adult care and protection services; a commitment to continuous improvement, with a specific focus on inter-agency work; and increased public engagement to make sure people know what to do if an issue is raised and to make sure that families and carers are involved throughout the process.
Councillor Julie Dettbarn, Portfolio Holder for Health and Social Care said that everyone had a shared responsibility to protect children and young people from abuse and neglect, "We're committed to work in partnership with the community to give children the best possible start in life and child protection measures go right to the heart of that approach.
"We're currently facing a period of significant change and increasing demand for public services, with neglect, child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, and online-safety concerns, all needing our equal attention.
"Partners are committed to minimising child protection interventions through close working with families to help problems from developing in the first place. However we'll also take short-term steps when necessary to help children through difficult times by providing the support they need at the right time."
The full report 'South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee Annual Report and Priorities' is available here.