Delegates at a child protection conference in Perth gave a resounding endorsement to the child protection resource based at the University of Stirling when 94% of delegates surveyed said that it has a valuable role to play in making connections between agencies working across Scotland.
The Multi Agency Resource Service (MARS) and the Scottish Child Care and Protection Network (SCCPN), based at the University, carried out the survey at their conference, Making Connections, Child Protection in the 21st Century, on 27 October.
Survey results showed that 50% of attendees ‘strongly agreed’ that there is a need for more inter-disciplinary and multi-agency sharing of knowledge and learning. 60% of attendees said they would approach the services to help locate research and resources specific to their service needs following the conference.
Beth Smith, MARS Director, says: “Uniquely, we maximise access to professional expertise which helps in specific child care and protection cases. The survey results prove that there is demand for a coordinating multi-agency resource service in Scotland that aims to improve child protection practice. This is an extremely complex area and practitioners, managers and services require regular opportunities to reflect on their practice and to learn from each other.”
Colin McKerracher, Chief Constable of Grampian Police and Chair of the Scottish Child Committees Chairs Forum, commented: "I am passionate about the work of MARS and SCCPN. Together, they have the potential to become the most impressive and effective shared service providing excellent support for child protection professionals across Scotland.
“The concept is simple: have a small group of professionals deliver, or facilitate the delivery of, single pieces of work, which can be used in all 32 Scottish local authority multi-agency child protection partnerships. This will raise the level of service offered to all children and families who need support from Scottish child protection services.”
Beth Smith adds: “The Scottish Government Analytical Services recently published an independent review of MARS and SCCPN which backs future plans to merge the two projects into one ‘hub’ and recognised that there are significant economies of scale in amalgamating.
“However, the initial three year commitment to funding by the Scottish Government ends in March 2012. MARS and SCCPN are currently working on sourcing additional funding to allow these important projects to continue for Scotland’s practitioners – and the children who need their support.”