Monday, June 3, 2013
State-overseer to be appointed to every child in Scotland
Iona Institute for Religion and Society
Every child in Scotland is set to have their own state-appointed overseer under new legislation designed to promote their welfare.
Critics have described the move as “dystopian” and an invasion of family privacy.
Under the Children and Young People Bill, the Government is required to provide each child with a “named person” from birth, such as a health worker, to ‘promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person’.
Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell has said that the responsibility for providing a named person will belong to health boards until the age of five when it would be transferred to councils.
Sociology lecturer Stuart Waiton described the legislation as “dystopian” and he warned that “the potential for professional intervention into family life is growing”.
He warned: “The recognition of the importance of privacy, of the authority of parents and the protection of this privacy and authority by society is declining fast. In fact, researching the issue of the 'autonomous family', a hugely important building block for British society, it is noticeable that at the level of policy this idea has completely disappeared.
“Today it is assumed parenting is simply too hard, children are simply too vulnerable and risks are simply too great to allow for this luxury called 'privacy'. This is why nobody is attacking this new bill in defence of privacy and the autonomous family.”
However, most of the concerns about the proposal raised by politicians concerned only its practicality.
Nationalist John Wilson MSP asked how children would be made aware that they have a named person and how that named person would be identified to the child.
“How do we make sure that this named person is actually identified to the young person, and the young person has the confidence and the ability to actually directly speak to that named individual?” he said.
Labour’s Anne McTaggart, herself a former social worker, raised concerns over the looming workload facing the profession.
“Have you got quotas as to how many (children and young people) that named person will have?
“In my last job within social work, there were cases there of up to 70, so that named person may well have up to 70 young people under their jurisdiction.”
Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw suggested the measure is “a very huge enterprise”.
“How many named persons do you anticipate there will be? What will the turnover be in named persons? And how in practice does that really establish a bond of confidence on which people feel they can rely?” he asked.
But Ms Campbell insisted that part of the implementation of the Bill involves the drafting of regulations and guidance on the expectations and responsibilities of named persons.
“It is important to realise that while there will be a named person for every child, not every child will need interaction with that named person.”
The role of the of the named person will be pick up all the “clues and signs” from the various agencies like school, social work or health that a child may be at risk, according to Phil Raines, Head of Child Protection and Children’s Legislation Policy at the Scottish Government. He told MSPs this has “not happened before in the UK.”
at 12:36 PM