Submission from Social Work Scotland to Scottish Public Services Ombudsman Child Friendly Complaints Handling Process Consultation

Children and Families

1st March 2024 


Social Work Scotland is the professional body for social work leaders, working closely with our partners to shape policy and practice, and improve the quality and experience of social services. Having previously provided evidence in relation to UNCRC incorporation into Scots Law and contributed to subsequent discussions on the practicalities relating to incorporation, we welcome this opportunity to respond to the SPSO proposals for child friendly complaints as an example of application of the UNCRC principles in practice. 

The reflections within this response are draw from consultation and discussion with our membership which covers senior leaders, including Chief Social Work Officers, and service and team manager involved in delivery of services to children and adults from across the country in both local authorities and third sector. This has taken place over the extended period of time within which moves to incorporate UNCRC into Scots law were underway, culminating in the bill becoming law in January 2024.  Alongside this SWS have engaged with SPSO around their child friendly complaints process at various stages of development.  

Our work in Social Work Scotland to support policy and legislative developments is underpinned by an active commitment to improving the rights of children and hearing their voice as a central aspect of this. As the leadership organisation for social work in Scotland, improving understanding of the needs and rights of children and how best those needs and rights are met is fundamental to the development of our profession as we seek to support children in their growth and development often in times of particular trauma and difficulty. 

Social Work Scotland as an organisation is wholly supportive of the incorporation of UNCRC rights within Scots law. This human rights position aligns with the foundation of social work and the principles, standards, and codes to which our profession adheres. These principles are also at the core of the Promise, and social work is therefore able to offer a particular perspective and context to how those rights are made real to children and young people and embedded in practice, structure and policy. 

With this context, we offer our response to the SPSO consultation on the principles for child friendly complaints. As an organisation Social Work Scotland is supportive of the efforts of SPSO to develop and implement a child friendly complaints process, to which public bodies must adhere. We are also cognisant of the importance to children and young people and those who seek to support them, of such a process being manageable and able to be meet its aim. A resource intensive process at a time where workforce pressures are extensive, and the expectations are not able to be met will lead to greater dissatisfaction and a less child friendly process