You and your child will soon have the right to support from a Named Person if you need it.

The Named Person will be a service that health boards, local authorities and others will be legally required to offer every child and young person up to the age of 18, or beyond if they are still in school.

Following a judgment of the Supreme Court in July 2016, the Scottish Government are amending certain information sharing provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. As some of these relate to Named Persons Services, the legal aspects of this scheme were not formally introduced in August 2016 as anticipated. There is a proposed introduction date of August 2017 and the Scottish Government will provide further updates on this in due course.

Services for children in Aberdeenshire remain committed to the principles of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) with current procedures to support and protect children and young people, lawful and GIRFEC compliant. All professionals will continue to share information sensitively and proportionately, within the framework of the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation.

What are they for?

It was parents and children who suggested the idea of the Named Person. They felt that a professional person like a teacher or health visitor was well-placed to act as a single point of contact for families and help them access services more easily if they needed to. Families said they did not like having to repeat their story to lots of different professionals, or feeling as if they were being passed from pillar to post – especially at times when they were perhaps feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed.

What will the Named Person do that a health visitor or teacher doesn’t already do? What are the benefits?

Many teachers and health visitors are already doing much of what a Named Person will do. They are considering a child’s whole wellbeing and asking themselves what they can do to support the child if something is getting in the way of their wellbeing. They are drawing in support from other professional services where appropriate, and making sure the child and their parents are at the centre of any discussions. They are thinking about what information it might be helpful to share and they are discussing this with the child or parents (unless there are more immediate child protection issues).

We want to make sure this is being done consistently across Aberdeenshire, with good guidance and training for staff to make sure they understand what they can do to promote, support and safeguard your child’s wellbeing.

However it can sometimes be difficult for the health visitor or guidance teacher to call on help from other services, and there can be barriers to good cooperation to support families. For this reason, when the law comes into effect (currently anticipated to be August 2017) it will require other key services to support the Named Person, and all services will be expected to work together to make sure children get the right help at the right time. The Named Person will be central to making the system work.

Who will my child’s Named Person be and how do I contact them?

Your child’s age Who is the Named Person
Birth to start of primary school Health Visitor
Primary School Head Teacher or Depute Head Teacher of Primary School  This is usual, but can vary according to local circumstances
Secondary School Guidance Teacher

Named Person Service

Michael Urqhart, Head teacher at Murrayburn Primary School gives an overview of the Named Person Service

If your child has not yet started school, their Named Person is most likely to be the health visitor. Once they are at school, it will be a professional at school – a guidance teacher, head or depute head. Some groups of children – like children who are home-schooled, and those who leave school before their 18th birthday – would have different arrangements in place

When the law comes into effect (planned for August 2016) your local health service or local authority will have a legal duty to tell you who your child’s Named Person is, and how you can contact them.

What if I do not want anything to do with the Named Person?

It is up to you whether or not you approach the Named Person. We believe it offers real benefits to children, young people and their parents and we want to encourage everyone to recognise that it is OK to sometimes ask for a bit of extra help when needed and to know where to get it.

If anyone (the Named Person, or anyone else) has concerns about a child’s safety, and think that they may be at risk of abuse and neglect, that person would be expected to follow child protection procedures and contact social work or the police. This is what already happens in Aberdeenshire and will not change with the introduction of the Named Person service.

Find out more about child protection:  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-People/protecting/child-protection