Coming soon…the Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland

CYCJ has been working with the Scottish Government, STARR, partners and children and young people to develop the Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland, which will launch this October after a delay due to COVID-19 restrictions. Debbie Nolan explains why this is a significant moment for everyone involved in secure care – and why the Standards are well worth the wait.

The development of the Pathway and Standards was one of the key recommendations and calls for action from the Secure Care National Project. As previously highlighted by CYCJ, the development of the Pathway and Standards involved an extensive programme of co-production work, led by the multi-agency Pathway and Standards work group of the Secure Care Strategic Board.

Children, young people and young adults with current and previous experience of secure care have been at the heart of this work throughout, with the role of the STARR group and ‘Standards Champions’ in each of the secure care centres pivotal to making this happen and to whom we are extremely grateful.

The draft Standards were agreed at the conclusion of the Strategic Board, before being finalised through a process of stakeholder engagement and validation and agreed by Maree Todd (MSP – Minister for Children and Young People); COSLA leaders and the STARR group in 2020. Just as we were finalising our preparations for the launch of the Pathway and Standards in April 2020, COVID-19 struck. As a result, the Scottish Government made the understandable decision to postpone the launch given the ongoing situation and to enable the Standards to have the maximum impact for children and young people. The delay to the launch has slowed but not deterred our activity on the Pathway and Standards. As we now work towards the launch of the Standards next month, we thought this would be a good time to give an update in what we hope will be the first of a series of blogs.

The Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland for the first time set out what all children in or on the edges of secure care should expect across the continuum of intensive supports and services. This collective agreement of a set of standards for the evolution of Scotland’s approaches for these children is a significant achievement, and their launch an important, critical moment. These Standards are what everyone involved in secure care should expect: for children and young people, their families, staff involved in providing secure care, and those professionals involved in supporting children before and after any potential stay in secure care.

The Pathway and Standards provide a framework for ensuring rights are respected, and improving experiences and outcomes for these children. They follow a child’s potential journey before, during and after a stay in secure care. Written from the perspective of the child, there are specific standards on the areas children detailed were most important to them and had the greatest impact on their care experience.

While it is recognised that some of the Pathway and Standards may be more challenging and take time to fully implement than others, they detail the expectations we should be aiming to achieve for every child. We know that the extent of the change needed to do so, and therefore pace, will differ across Scotland and agencies but it is key that we are all signed up to this and committed to working together to make things better for everyone. The launch of the Standards is the start of the journey and it will be the drive and determination of all those linked to secure care and children experiencing extreme needs, risks and vulnerabilities in their lives who will be responsible for making these standards a success.

Although COVID-19 has delayed the launch of the Pathway and Standards, we have been undertaking a lot of activity behind the scenes to prepare for the Standards being launched. This has included:

  • Making plans for a series of launch events. This will include a strategic leads event, stakeholder event, and celebration events in each of the secure care centres – invites and further information to follow;
  • Planning and revisiting the communication and engagement surrounding the Standards to ensure they are shared with all key stakeholders and partners in their implementation;
  • Working with children and young people and the ‘Standards Champions’ within each of the secure care centres, the STARR group and IRISS to finalise the Pathway and Standards website. The website has been co-designed with children and young people and will include written and audio information; quotes on why these standards matter to children and young people in their own words; images developed by children currently in secure care to represent each standard; associated legislation, policy and guidance; and illustrative links to the Health and Social Care Standards and How good is our school? Quality Indicators. The website will be launched with the Standards and continue to evolve to highlight key learning and good practice examples in respect of the Standards;
  • The ‘Standards Champions’ from each of the five secure care centres have regrouped and we have been hosting regular virtual Standards Champs Cafés. The focus of these meetings have been on the website finalisation; supporting the Centres on their journeys of implementing the Standards; in considering the interface between the Health and Social Care Standards and the Pathway and Standards; and how this group can develop to support implementation of the Standards. We are keen to expand membership of this group as we move into implementation. If you would like to be a Standards Champ in your organisation and are interested in finding out more about the group please get in touch;
  • Exploring approaches to support the implementation and evaluation and monitoring of the standards and their impact;
  • Exploring how to virtually deliver the half-day workshop session (developed and delivered in one local authority area and planned to be delivered in many more pre-COVID-19). The session aims to raise awareness of the Pathways and Standards and to enable participants to contribute their local areas or agency’s baseline self-evaluation and plans for improvement, which CYCJ can facilitate or share resources to support delivery. We are keen to offer this support so please get in touch if we could help to make this happen in your area.

CYCJ is preparing to undertake a lot of activity around the launch of the Standards which we’ll be sharing with you, so watch out for our social media updates. We’ll continue to share examples of practice from the secure care centres and to provide our practitioner support service.

We are keen to support individuals and organisations to prepare for the Pathway and Standards being launched, their implementation and to capture the learning and good practice, so if we can help or support, please get in touch at

Image courtesy of Kibble, from a young person depicting their feelings on being in secure care 

About our blogger

Debbie Nolan is Secure Care Practice Development Advisor for CYCJ. Read more.

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
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