Children’s Services Plan Joint Annual Report Up For Discussion

Monday, 19 June 2023 13:25

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Full Council will convene on Tuesday 27 June and will receive a update on the Children’s Services Joint Annual Report as part of its business.

Elected Members will be asked to endorse the report as well as note the progress made in the Dumfries and Galloway Children’s Services Plan 2020-2023.

The Children and Young People Scotland Act (2014) Part 3 (Children’s services planning) places a statutory duty on each local authority and its relevant health board to jointly prepare a Children’s Services Plan for the area of the local authority, every three years. Our plan was also agreed by NHS Dumfries & Galloway this time around, as they are a co-statutory partner in the delivery of the plan.

The report going before the meeting highlights a number of areas of progress including;

  • Children, young people and families have benefited from a range of additional supports which have aimed to tackle child poverty
  • We have taken an early intervention and preventative approach to mental health.We have developed, delivered and funded mental health supports and services in communities, schools, and in perinatal and infant health. Engagement with young people and women using perinatal health services has shaped our service development
  • A Neurodevelopmental Diagnostic and Assessment Service has been established on a permanent basis following the successful pilot and work is ongoing to clear existing diagnostic waiting lists
  • The Family Support Service has expanded and upscaled to meet increasing demand for support to families at all times of need

Following the development of the Joint Annual Report, the latest Child Poverty Statistics which are compiled annually by the End Child Poverty Campaign were published earlier this month. These relate to 2021-22 and show that the percentage of children living in poverty in Dumfries and Galloway is 26%, an increase of 3.1% on the previous year. The percentage of children who are registered for Free School Meals is a major factor in the calculation of these statistics and because locally we have been very proactive in increasing the number of families in receipt of this benefit this has potentially contributed to the recorded increase.

Speaking ahead of the meeting on 27 June, Convener of Dumfries and Galloway Council. Malcolm Johnstone said:

“The report not only highlights the sterling work right across the Council and indeed NHS in relation to Children’s Services, but it also offers up some reasoning why we have seen the number of children in poverty in D&G rise to 26%. On reading this statistic alone, you’d be forgiven for thinking that our Council was not doing enough to keep children out of poverty, but this could not be further from the truth.

Our efforts in relation to ensuring everyone who is entitled to free school meals has had a major say in seeing the percentage increase. I’m confident that as a local authority, we’re carrying out good work in this area of business, but let’s not rest on our laurels and continue to drive forward to offer support in many different ways to those who need it most in our region.”