Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 181 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 4.294 Inequalities. Children in the most deprived 10% of small neighbourhoods in Scotland are nearly 20 times more likely to be ‘looked after’ in care, or on the child protection register, than children in the least deprived neighbourhoods (Bywaters et al 2017). This is relevant at child, family, community and strategic levels to an understanding of the intersection of risks that must be addressed in child care and protection. Resources and References – Children looked after away from home Reunification or ‘return home’ 4.295 Child protection and reunification planning are connected in principle and process. To prevent repeated and compounded harm, reunification for children who have experienced chronic abuse and neglect should be preceded by a comprehensive assessment of whether or not the child should return home. Increased support is required when considering reunification. Continued assessment and regular review is required. Prompts below are recommended by Wilkins and Farmer (2015): • view the plan from each child’s perspective, gradually and, stage by stage. Consider the child’s timescales and need for emotional security. Ensure the child has persons they can trust and with whom they can share how they are coping with changes. Begin to think about what would be needed for reunification from the beginning of the placement • strength-based approaches (such as family group decision-making) may be helpful to enlist the co‑operation and understanding of key family members, to build a package of supports, and to consider options and contingency plans • a methodical and structured approach to assessment and reunification is recommended. This is crucial when there are long-term and interacting concerns, such as use of alcohol or drugs leading to chronic neglect • previous failed reunification plans should be taken into account. Analysis of the child, family history and strengths and concerns within and beyond the family is needed. Professional judgement about the likelihood of reunification should integrate multi- agency perspectives and assessment of capacity to change, and supervisory review of evidence and analysis • relationships that will have lasting value to the child should be supported. Assess and plan for provision of any additional support needs a child may have, for instance in relation to mental health. Give families a reasonable opportunity and level of support to make the changes while keeping child’s safety and best interests central to decision-making • seek to understand and adapt to cultural differences. Seek to work as a team with family, carers and key professionals in preparing for change and reunification, as appropriate. Ensure there is evidence of parental abilities to sustain change • help children and parents to work with practitioners to agree goals and understand what is happening at each stage. Agree lines of communication. Agree how to keep progress under close review. Consider how required support can be sustained, stepped up and stepped down as needed. Ensure that following reunification, the child is seen and heard regularly, so that significant changes are noticed and can trigger a supportive response Resources And References – Reunification or ‘return home’