As part of the module Interagency Working I was asked, as part of a tutor directed task, to write a brief essay (250 words) describing GIRFEC and outline advantages and disadvantages of interagency working.
For those people that know me personally and professionally ‘brief’ is not a word that is generally in my vocabulary , particularly when it comes to areas of interest for me. Consider this statement as my apology for the following post !
Having worked within education and particularly during my role in under three provision and being involved with a charity for the last six years, I have the added advantage over some of my fellow students of having been involved first hand in interagency working. This however,I am not ashamed to admit, has somewhat influenced my current views on GIRFEC and indeed of interagency working as a whole. In my aim to remain professional and give an unbiased reflection I have refrained from using my own experiences and opinions in the main body of the post. I do however give my views at the end of the post! (as if I could resist!)
GIRFEC is a national government programme that aims to improve outcomes for the children and young people of Scotland. At the heart of GIRFEC is the wellbeing of the children as can be seen by the wellbeing wheel and the indicators pertaining to that (Scottish Government, 2015) The framework sets out a cohesive and standard approach to be followed by all agencies and services working with children, thus providing a coordinated approach with emphasis on early intervention. The importance of working collaboratively with families and the children and young people is also core.
The framework was developed in response to a review of the Children’s Hearing System (Scottish Executive, 2004). The consultation package entitled ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’ was distributed amongst various agencies that were involved in children’s services. Some of these agencies included: community groups; voluntary organisations; business organisations and local authorities. The pack was also sent to all serving members of the children’s panel and an online version was available for any other interested parties.
As a result of the report the need for a more coordinated approach from all services/agencies involved which focused on the importance of keeping the child at the centre was identified and subsequently the framework was developed.
In 2006 the Scottish Government issued the implementation plan for GIRFEC and proposed a three prong approach of:
• Practice Change
• Removing barriers ( Scottish Government, 2006, p4)
As part of ‘practice change’ the pathfinder projects were launched. One such project was the Highland pathways, much debate arose during this time with opposition to the named person. This has since escalated and a movement, No to named person, has been started (NOTNP,2014)
With regards to legislation, section four of The Children and young Peoples Scotland Act (2014) (Scottish Government, 2014) is wholly concerned with the role of the named person. The Government was slammed in an article by the Telegraph stating that this is seen as “…state snooping…” and as being “… a big brother world…” (The Telegraph, 2015)
There are pros and cons working within the framework and through consultation with friends and colleagues it has become apparent that the major obstacle in implementing this framework, and implementing it effectively, comes down to time. A health visitor from Fife suggested that whilst the framework in theory is good the problems which arise are:
• getting everyone involved with a particular child to a scheduled meeting
• that each agency or service has their own agenda.
This view was reiterated by a colleague who works as an Educational Home Visitor and also by a head teacher of a school in Fife in her capacity as named person.
The benefits of this framework should serve to better benefit the child and families, with a team around the child, all working to the same goal of making sure the child or young person has everything in place in order to improve their outcomes in a positive way.
Not quite 250 words but how can we cover such a contentious issue in so little words? This framework can not be squeezed into so little words because it encompasses so much. The named person , the lead professional, the potential of many agencies and servicies that could be involved with one child and their family? Not to mention the reluctance of some parents to accept the framework.
I personally think that the framework has the potential to be just what is needed to ensure that vulnerable children do not slip through the net but it is also important to understand the reluctance by parents to accept this. Some parents feel threatened and this is reflected in the growing number of support for the ‘Say No to the Named Person ” campaign.
We also , as professionals, have to be aware of the other professionals involved in the life of a child and be sympathetic towards the constraints of working times and the limitations that this can have on working collaboratively.
Perhaps the wording of the documentation is misleading and perhaps this was not explained very well to parents. I however have the advantage of being able to see the benefits from an educational standpoint but as a parent I can empathise with the views of other parents.
The problem in my opinion, like so many other policies or frameworks, is that in theory they appear to be great but the reality is that sometimes in practice it does not work. This has been reflected in the conversations that I have have had with several agencies and service providers and of course from my own experiences. So I guess the next question would have to be …How can we address this?
There is no easy solution and like everything else, not only within education, the answer is that it will take time.
As a nation we are not blessed with patience and there is a culture of blame. We are too quick to pass judgment and as such the buck is passed. Girfec serves to, not apportion blame but to ensure that everyone is working together in order for there to be no blame to place … all children should be safe.
After all “Its everyones job to make sure I am alright” (Scottish Executive, No Date)
The Telegraph (2015) SNP ministers ridiculed over attempts to explain ‘named person’ policy
Available at : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/SNP/11684732/SNP-ministers-ridiculed-over-attempts-to-explain-named-person-policy.html
NOTNP (2014) Available at: http://no2np.org/blog/page/17/?hp
Scottish Executive (No Date) Its everyone’s job to make sure I’m alright : report on the child protection audit and review Available at : http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/47007/0023992.pdf (Accessed: 10/2/2016)
Scottish Executive (2004) GETTING IT RIGHT FOR EVERY CHILD: A REPORT ON THE RESPONSES TO THE CONSULTATION ON THE REVIEW OF THE CHILDREN’S HEARINGS SYSTEM
Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2004/10/20021/44105
Scottish Government (2006) Getting it Right for Every Child, Implementation Plan.
Scottish Government (2014) Children and Young People (Scotland) act
Scottish Government (2015) Wellbeing
Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/Young-People/gettingitright/well-being