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by Rachel Hewitt and Henry Mathias
15 September 2022
Associate Feature: A child-centred approach to  justice and recovery

Partner content

Associate Feature: A child-centred approach to justice and recovery

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland fundamentally believe that all infants, children and young people who are victims or are witnesses to abuse must be protected and supported to recover from their experience. Their right to child-friendly justice, recovery, participation and healthcare must be upheld by all professionals who work with them and their families. It is also essential that these professionals work collaboratively throughout the process to support the child and their family. 

This is why we and our partners are working on Bairns’ Hoose, a multi-agency project that is aiming to bring transformational change to services on a scale more ambitious than anywhere else in the UK, to ensure that children and young people are placed at the heart of our protection and justice system and have access to consistent and holistic support throughout. 

Bairns’ Hoose is the application of the European Barnahus or ‘Child’s House’ model to the Scottish system. Bringing it to Scotland has been a long-standing goal for the Scottish Government. At present children who are witnesses to, or victims of violence, have to speak to and be seen by as many as 14 different professionals at different locations, whilst also having to travel and give their statement in court, often months or years after the event. Bairns’ Hoose is a revolutionary approach that will aim to solve these issues by significantly reducing the number of times that children need to repeat what happened to them to different professionals, allowing them to focus on recovery. The Barnahus model is based on a ‘four rooms’ concept, bringing together health, justice, child protection and recovery services, to ensure that children and their families can get the help and support that they need in an environment that is comfortable and welcoming. 

As part of the work for establishing a Bairns’ Hoose in Scotland, we have created 11 draft standards, which are based on the solid foundation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and were written in consultation with, and in part by, children who have lived experience of the system. The draft standards demonstrate the importance that children and young people place on feeling heard, respected and supported by professionals ‘under one roof’. The standards are now open to public consultation. We strongly encourage everyone with an interest in child protection, and access to justice and recovery, to respond to the consultation to make sure that Bairns’ Hoose is the best it can be and that the final standards, due to be published next year, are truly reflective of the needs of children. 

Our overarching goal is for the standards to provide children and young people, their families and the professionals working with them with a clear view of what they can expect from a Scottish Bairns’ Hoose and of the support that they are entitled to. 

Any young person or child could be a victim or witness of abuse and we must ensure that those who experience the resulting distress or trauma are supported to recover and receive timely protection and justice. 

To find out more about how you can contribute to the consultation process on the draft standards, please visit the Healthcare Improvement Scotland website. The consultation closes on 4 November 2022. 

This article was sponsored by Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland. 

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