Where did the idea of the Named Person come from?
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.
The Named Person role was developed as part of Getting it Right for Every Child, to make sure children, young people and parents have confidence that they can access help or support, no matter where they live or what age the child is. The Named Person acts as a central point of contact for children, young people and parents, with responsibility for providing families with information , and helping them get the support they need, if and when they need it.
Current Legal Position on Named Persons (October 2017)
The Scottish Government has been working to amend some of the information-sharing provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, in response to the July 2016 Supreme Court judgment on Part 4 (Named Person) and Part 5 (Child’s Plan) of the Act. The Supreme Court determined that the principle of making available a Named Person for every child, does not breach human rights and is compatible with European Union law. However, it also ruled that the Act needed more consistency, clarity and coherence in those provisions which related to sharing information about children’s and young people’s wellbeing, in order to be lawful.
The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill was presented to Scottish Parliament in June 2017 and intends to address implications of the Supreme Court judgment. This has not become law yet, and The Scottish Government is aiming for the Bill to become law sometime in 2018.
The Named Person Service is therefore currently delivered on a national policy basis as part of the Getting it right for Every Child approach. This means every child up to the age of 18 (and beyond if still in school) will have access to a Named Person. This is available as an entitlement with no obligation for children and young people or parents to accept any offer of advice or support.
Any information-sharing must be necessary to improve a child or young person’s wellbeing and must be relevant and proportionate to the wellbeing need. 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.
Further updates will be provided as they become available to local authorities and health boards from the Scottish Government.
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 on support from other services where appropriate, and making sure the child and parents or carers are at the centre of any discussions. They are thinking about what information it might be helpful to share, and are discussing this with the child or parents (unless there are more immediate child protection issues).
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 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 this system of support. We are committed to making sure all staff in Aberdeenshire understand what they can do to promote, support and safeguard your child’s wellbeing.
Who will be my child’s Named Person and how do I contact them?
There are a very small number of exceptions, however in most cases the Named Person will be made available to families through Universal Services of Health and Education.
Named Person Service
Named Person Service Providers, are in most circumstances the Health Board or Local Authority. The Named Person Service describes the organisational arrangements in place to support and make Named Persons available.
What if I do not want anything to do with the Named Person?
The Named Person will be somebody already supporting your child or young person through their role in Health or Education Services, as a teacher or health visitor (or Family Nurse). 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 who you can go to. There is no obligation for children, young people or parents to accept any offer of advice or support from the Named Person.
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 or neglect, that person would be expected to make decisions using their professional judgment based on available information. This includes a responsibility to follow Aberdeenshire’s Child Protection Procedures, and contact social work, police, or other professionals if required. This is what already happens in Aberdeenshire, and does not change with the introduction of the Named Person Service.