New research has been published today focusing on home Compulsory Supervision Orders (CSOs) in the Hearings System.

The research, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, asks: Do Compulsory Supervision Orders where a child is looked after at home (home CSOs) work?

Home CSOs are the most common type of CSO made by Children’s Hearings, and in 2018 there were 4,270 children and young people on a home CSO. In recent years, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of home CSOs, but there has been little research on this or if home CSOs can improve outcomes for children and young people.

This research looked at this from the perspectives of those involved and most affected – young people, parents, social workers, Children’s Panel Members and Children’s Reporters; by following the cases of 343 children and young people from when their CSOs were made to up to two years later; and by a developing tool to measure levels and changes in wellbeing concerns for children and young people on home CSOs.

The research found home CSOs are being used:

  • As a flexible legal measure to help keep children and young people safe.
  • As part of a tiered approach to child protection.
  • To provide children, young people and their families with the support they need.
  • To provide a legal means to protect children and young people with the least level of interference in their family life.
  • To secure a child’s residence with one of their parents and control their contact with those who are a risk to them.
  • To address a wide variety of circumstances and risks.

The study found that home CSOs work best:

  • As short to medium term measures.
  • As tailored interventions to address specific needs.
  • When they come at the right time for a child – but they can be made too late to make change needed, this is especially true for young people not going to school or involved in offending.
  • When young people and their parents engage with the supports provided, but not all do so.

This research shows that home CSOs have an integral place as part of a tiered and flexible approach to child protection, providing legal safeguards to regulate contact and secure residence, and helping young people and families get the support they need. Home CSOs can be seen to support the ‘minimal intervention’ principle of the Children’s Hearings System, and the ‘proportionality’ principle and right to family life of the European Convention of Human Rights. The report suggests it may be time to re-consider how home CSOs are viewed within policy and guidance.

The full research findings are available in these reports on SCRA’s website:

Report 1.        Residence and contact conditions

Report 2.        Wellbeing outcomes for children and young people

Report 3.        Care planning and interventions

Report 4.        Professional trust and relationships in Children’s Hearings

Report 5.        Decision making in Children’s Hearings

Report 6.        The views and experiences of young people and parents

Report 7.        Summary Report

 

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