THE Scottish Government’s plans to introduce its Named Person scheme has sparked telephone calls, emails and letters from our readers raising a number of concerns about the detail of how this service will work.

In response to this, The National has compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked readers’ questions and put them directly to the Scottish Government.

We hope this helps to clarify a number of issues highlighted by many parents, teachers, and health and social workers over the past few weeks.

1. What is the number of children and young people to be involved in the scheme?

The Named Person service is available to children from birth up to 18, and beyond if still in school, except those who are serving in the armed forces. It is available up to this age because the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) considers those under 18 to be children. While families may not wish to use the service, its availability for their children is guaranteed by law.

2. Under the proposed scheme, will the named person be responsible for one or more children?

There is no set number of children or young people that a named person will support. The named person’s responsibilities are integrated into the existing role of professionals who currently support children, young people and families, normally a health visitor or promoted teacher.

3. How many named persons will be required for the service?

A named person will be an existing health visitor or promoted teacher. However, the Scottish Government announced in June 2014 that it would provide funding for additional health visitors with the goal to grow the workforce by 500 by 2018. This programme is on-going and there are already 40 additional health visitors in practice compared to June 2015, with over 230 currently in training.

4. Who will assign the named person to his or her client?

If your child is a pre-school child, their named person is most likely to be your health visitor. Once they attend school, the named person will be a promoted member of staff in the school, such as the headteacher, depute head or a guidance teacher. Some groups of children – such as children who are home educated, and those who leave school before their 18th birthday – will have different arrangements in place.

Organisations providing the Named Person service, eg your local health board or local authority, will tell you who your child’s named person is and how you can contact them.

5. What checks and training will be involved?

The role of the named person is delivered within existing roles. That means that health visitors and promoted teachers have had the required training through their education and professional development to enable them to provide the help and support that a named person will offer.

The Scottish Government has helped health boards and local authorities develop a consistent approach to training at local level and, in doing so, we have provided a range of practice materials and statutory guidance.

6. Will teachers and others be obliged to participate or will it be voluntary?

The activities that the named person will carry out are integral to the role of the staff delivering the duties. The new legislation simply makes good practice the standard and formalises this part of their role.

7. Who will be responsible for cover when the named person is not available?

Organisations delivering a Named Person service will be required to ensure continuity during holiday periods or if staff are on sick leave. They will be required to advertise how the Named Person service can be accessed, and this includes access outside term time. Arrangements during school holidays will build on current best practice and it will be for local authorities and other Named Person service providers to ensure processes are in place.

8. Will the named person be able to act independently or is their role to alert others?

A named person will be available to listen, advise and help a child or young person and their parent(s), provide direct support or help them access other services. For example, a health visitor might ask for help from a speech and language therapist, or a guidance teacher may put parents in touch with a local bereavement counselling service.

9. Will families be able to change their assigned named person?

Local authorities, health boards and other organisations responsible for providing the Named Person service have processes in place to identify who will have named person responsibilities as part of their role. They also must ensure that children, young people and parents can in exceptional circumstances request the Named Person service to consider the identification of an alternative named person. A child, young person or parent can contact the Named Person service provider (e.g. health board, local authority) to discuss any concerns they might have about their named person.

10. What legal protection do both parties have?

The named person’s responsibilities are integrated into the existing role of professionals who currently support children, young people and families, normally health visitors or promoted teachers. These professionals are bound by their professional registration requirements, professional codes of conduct, organisational policies and procedures, and by legislative requirements such as the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

11. If the scheme had gone ahead this month, were all aspects of the service already in place?

The Named Person approach is not new. The principle is already operating across much of Scotland. The new legislation simply makes good practice the standard across Scotland.

Last month’s Supreme Court judgment means there is a need for the Scottish Government to amend the information-sharing provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 Act to provide greater clarity about the basis on which information will be shared to make sure that this is undertaken in compliance with the ECHR. This needs to happen before we can commence those provisions and will require the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.

For further information see the Scottish Government website.

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Letters II