The Care Inspectorate has given a general thumbs up for children and young people’s services in Shetland.
A recent inspection found that most services were peforming well, but some important areas requiring improvement were also identified.
Inconsistency in the recognition, sharing of information and early response to concerns about well-being was highlighted as being one such issue.
A joint team from the Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland carried out the inspection.
They looked at a wide range of services provided by the Shetland Community Planning Partnership between January and March this year.
Across nine quality indicators, six were found to be “good”, two were rated “adequate”, and one, “assessing and responding to risks and needs” was rated “weak”.
SIC political leader Gary Robinson, who chairs the partnership board, said work had already begun to address some of the issues highlighted in the report for improvement.
The report, published yesterday, stated: “The inspection team was confident that the lives of many children and young people growing up in Shetland were improving as a result of the services delivered to them by the Shetland partnership.
“However, for more vulnerable children and young people, practice was too variable in the recognition, information sharing and early response to concerns about well-being.
“Despite recent improvements in professional practice, we also had some concerns about the protection and wellbeing of a small, but significant number of at-risk children and young people.
“The challenge for the Shetland partnership going forward will be to demonstrate more clearly trends that indicate closing outcome gaps, achieved through prevention and early intervention.”
Care Inspectorate chief executive Karen Reid said: “This inspection found that on the whole, young people in Shetland were well cared for, healthy, well-educated and participated actively in their communities through a range of leisure and cultural activities.
“A real strength was how staff worked creatively and collaboratively to achieve positive outcomes for children and families living in very remote areas.
“However, partners need to ensure that weekly multi-agency child protection screening meetings are effective in agreeing and co-ordinating actions in response to children who may be at risk.
“An area for priority action is addressing the shortage of appropriate local placements for looked after children and young people, and prioritising the recruitment of foster carers, including fee paid carers, and the development of residential services to meet the range of needs.
“Partners also need to establish more rigorous quality assurance processes and use self-evaluation and performance management data more effectively to decide on priorities and strengthen children’s services planning.
“We will monitor the partnership’s progress and report on progress made within 18 months.”
Mr Robinson said the board fully endorsed the inspectors’ findings.
He said: “I’m very pleased to see the many positive comments which are included, with inspectors confident that the lives of many children and young people growing up in Shetland are improving as a result of the services delivered to them by the Shetland partnership.
“The inspection team is confident that, based on evidence of good leadership, improvement in key areas and a willingness to collaborate with external partners, Shetland will continue to improve.”