Early literacy 'key' to closing education gap

30 June 2015

Improving the language skills of young children from deprived backgrounds could be the key to closing Scotland's attainment gap, according to a report. The research by the Read On, Get On campaign suggested one in five children growing up in poverty is unable to read well by the time they finish primary. It said this helped explain Scotland's "persistent education divide". It called for all nurseries to have a member of staff with an early language or literacy qualification.  

The campaign group is a coalition of charities including Save the Children and literacy agencies. By the age of five most children should be able to speak in full sentences and use most of the everyday words that adults use, according the group. At this stage, youngsters should also be asking lots of "why?" questions as they try to understand the world around them, and should be able to talk confidently about the past and the future.

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Child protection must not be used for dealing with the symptoms of increased poverty

Community Care | 30 June 2015

According to a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 39% of people in households with children now live below the Minimum Income Standard. The figure has risen by over a third since 2008/09. Families with children are now at greater risk than any other group of having an inadequate income and the number of homeless families living in bed and breakfast accommodation has risen by 300% over the last five years as a direct result of austerity.

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NWG Network and Missing People Launch the “Say Something” campaign to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation

29 June 2015

The NWG Network charity will today launch its `Say Something’ campaign with Nicola Blackwood MP at Westminster. The Say Something campaign has been developed with young people and aims to safeguard vulnerable children and young people by empowering them to identify early indicators of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Say Something will also offer a free, 24-hour, anonymous phone and SMS helpline, 116 000, to disclose information and seek support.

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Changing the script

The Herald | 29 June 2015

In some cases it can be traumatic, says Kay Hampton, who sits on the new accountability forum for 'survivors' of institutional care. "People get emotional. Some people cry, some get angry. They have every right to be upset, and we need to be strong enough to respond."

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Bid to raise age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12

The Herald | 29 June 2015

An MSP has launched a bid to increase the age at which children can be held responsible for crimes they have committed. Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes wants to see the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland rise from eight years - which she says is "woefully outdated" - to the age of 12. In a bid to bring about the change she has put forward amendments to the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill. Ms McInnes has also written to Justice Secretary Michael Matheson on the issue, arguing that the law as it stands means it is possible for children as young as eight to get a criminal record.

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The threshold for sexual exploitation feels 10 times higher than for other abuse

Community Care | 29 June 2015

Abbie* is retelling the story of her first child sexual exploitation case: a 14-year-old girl, with an extensive history of involvement with children’s services, had stopped engaging with her family and social workers and started a relationship with a man in his 20s. The man was emotionally and physically abusive, pursuing a sexual relationship with the girl and refusing to use contraception. As a result, the teenager would become pregnant and he would insist she had the baby terminated. This happened three times.

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Vacancy - Independent Chair, Angus CPC

26 June 2015

Angus is seeking to appoint an Independent Chair for the Child Protection Committee. Closing date 17th July 2015.

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Scottish childcare needs 'radical action'

25 June 2015

Every youngster up to the age of 12 should be entitled to up to 50 hours a week of free or subsidised childcare in Scotland, a report has suggested. The proposal formed part of a call for "radical action" by the Commission for Childcare Reform. It called for "genuine collaboration" between Holyrood and Westminster to improve the availability and affordability of childcare. Its series of recommendations followed a 15-month consultation.

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Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Practice Skills

25 June 2015

NSPCC Scotland has worked with the Stirling University to devise a new and unique course for experienced child protection practitioners. Beginning in October 2015, this is a post-qualifying course, focusing on practice skills.  Delivered by representatives of the University of Stirling , the NSPCC and a range of experts from across Scotland, this fully accredited programme has been introduced to enable students to develop advanced skills in child welfare and protection practice with children and families.  

Unlike most other postgraduate courses in the field, this course has an emphasis on gaining practical skills and experience. In particular the course is designed to bridge an existing gap in practice skills development, and students will gain knowledge, skills and experience for working within the most challenging settings.

Download the flyer

Consultation on time bar

Scottish Government | 25 June 2015

The Scottish Government proposal to remove the three-year time limitation period (also known as time-bar) for bringing civil action in cases of historical child abuse is to be explored in a consultation launched by Justice Ministers today (25 June). It follows a statement by Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Angela Constance, when she announced the details of the Inquiry into historical child abuse, committing to the removal of the current limitation period.

The consultation paper seeks views on:

• the definition of a child
• the settings to which the change in law should apply
• the types of abuse which should be covered

Further information

View consultation paper

Child protection a ‘big focus’ for government over the next five years, Cameron says

24 June 2015

Child protection will be a “big focus” of the government’s next five years in charge, David Cameron announced this week. In a speech on welfare, the prime minister said the government needs to help social workers who do a “very challenging job”. Cameron spoke about recruiting the best graduate talent through Frontline and training social workers more rigorously. “We will help good social workers to stay at the frontline, using their professional judgement – not be promoted away from where they are most needed,” he said. 

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Commencement of New Ministerial Children’s Rights Duties

24 June 2015

Duties on Scottish Ministers around the rights of children and young people came into force on Monday 15 June 2015. The Part 1 Duties under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (as outlined below) take account of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Scotland.  

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European Watchdog Rules on Corporal Punishment

24 June 2015

A European human rights watchdog has ruled that Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium and the Czech Republic are failing to protect children from violence because their laws do not fully ban all corporal punishment of children.

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Together we can fix it: A consultation with children about their right to complain

24 June 2015

In the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has been given new powers to investigate complaints from individual children and young people. These new powers are likely to come into force in April 2016. 

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Royal Mail Email Scam

22 June 2015

A scam email is currently being sent to victims fraudulently claiming to be from the Royal Mail. Attached to the email is the CryptoLocker virus. The victim receives an email purporting to be from the Royal Mail stating that they are holding a parcel/letter for the victim. The victim is then required to contact the Royal Mail to arrange for the item to be resent/collected.

By following the instructions within the email the CryptoLocker virus is subsequently downloaded to the victim’s computer. This virus encrypts files on the victim’s system and requests a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted.  

Additional incentive is added for early repayment as the ransomware states that the cost of decrypting the files will increase the longer the fine is outstanding. Protect yourself: • Look at who the email is addressed to. Is it generic or specifically addressed? • Look at the quality of the images included on the email. Are they of sufficient high quality that they could come from Royal Mail? • Do not open attachments from unsolicited emails regardless of who they are from. • Do not click on the link supplied. Instead, go to the relevant website and log in from there. • Check the address of any email received to see if it appears legitimate.

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Zero Tolerance seeks trustees

22 June 2015

Zero Tolerance is seeking to recruit skilled, enthusiastic and committed trustees to our board.  

Zero Tolerance’s vision is of a world without men’s violence against women, in which women enjoy full gender equality and our human rights are upheld. We work to tackle the root causes of male violence against women (women’s inequality), and promote a primary prevention approach to challenging the attitudes, values and structures that sustain inequality and abuse.

This voluntary position is an exciting opportunity to work with a small but very determined and vibrant charity and make a real difference. Zero Tolerance is a SCIO, and is registered as a charity in Scotland. 

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Report: 10 youngsters from Aberdeen children's homes went missing 290 times last year

22 June 2015

Ten youngsters from children's homes in Aberdeen went missing 290 times last year, amounting to a quarter of all missing persons cases in the area. These included one youngster who was reported missing from a children's home on 45 occasions. The figures were revealed in a new report looking at how police in the Aberdeen city area deal with missing person cases. The study, by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), said that while officers across the county deal with 32,000 missing persons cases a year, the lack of a national IT system means Police Scotland "currently has no means of accurately determining how many people are reported missing in Scotland each year".

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Glasgow City Council faces further £100m of cuts and savings

BBC News | 19 June 2015

Scotland's largest council has forecast that it may need to make a further £100m of cuts and savings in the next two years.  

Glasgow City Council officials said it may need to cut spending by 7%. The predicted savings targets are some of the toughest the council has faced. The council expects up to 3,000 staff to leave naturally by 2017 but said there would be no compulsory redundancies.

Full article

New powers of investigation for SCCYP

SCCYP | 18 June 2015

The powers of investigation for Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People will soon be changing. 

 At the moment, he has the power to investigate matters on behalf of groups of children and young people. From April 2016, he’ll also be able to do this on behalf of individuals.

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Rise in helpline calls over suspected child abuse

BBC News | 17 June 2015

The NSPCC in Scotland has revealed a 19% rise in the number of calls to its helplines from adults worried about children being abused.

The NSPCC said the reasons were not clear, although greater awareness of sexual abuse, arising from historical cases, may be a cause. It said this showed the Scottish legal system must become more sensitive. It has called for a "bold approach" to reform the way child sex abuse cases are handled. The figures were published as the NSPCC prepared to launch its third "How Safe are our Children?" report measuring the extent and nature of child abuse across the UK. 

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View report

Don't take social work training away from universities

The Guardian | 17 June 2015

Joanne Westwood, director of social work qualifying programmes at the University of Stirling writes:

In a response to the growing number of child sexual abuse allegations, David Cameron has argued that social work interventions and specifically child protection work can be delivered by using “common sense”. Higher education institutions delivering social work education and training have also been criticised for focusing on theory and avoiding practice issues, being too left wing, and concentrating on sociological and intellectual materials at the expense of training students how to be social workers. These criticisms aren’t levelled at other professions, such as nurses and lawyers, that work with vulnerable groups and individuals. And this leads me to question what these criticisms are really about.

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Views sought in Social Services Workforce Survey

IRISS | 17 June 2015

The View from Here: a survey that aims to understand the experiences, attitudes and views of the Scottish social services workforce. 

The current climate poses both challenges and opportunities. We want to better understand these challenges by finding out more from people working at all kinds of levels and in all kinds of roles about the real experience of delivering care and support. 

 IRISS will use your responses to: 

 1. support and promote public understanding of the sector in Scotland 

 2. identify and share opportunities and ideas for improvement 

 3. create a baseline for understanding views and experiences in order to measure change over time 

 There are 21 questions and we estimate that it should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. The answers you provide will be confidential. In analysis and reporting, no answers will be attributed to individuals. 

 Please complete this survey by 30th June if you provide care and support in Scotland.

Complete the survey

Sexting Becoming The Norm For Teens

17 June 2015

A new campaign which aims to give parents the tools to deal with their children sexting has been launched by the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command. The campaign tackles the issues which arise from young people sending self-generated nude or nearly nude images and videos – commonly known as sexting.

On average, the NCA’s CEOP Command receives one report a day of a child protection issue linked to sexting. This might be due to the recipient of a private message forwarding it on to others, a young person posting a revealing image on a website or social media with low privacy settings, or a young person being blackmailed by a stranger over revealing images they have been tricked into taking.  

The campaign features a series of informative short animations, which have been developed following a two-year research project with the University of Edinburgh, the University of Linkoping in Sweden and the German charity Innocence in Danger.

The films are available for parents to view at Think U Know - the NCA’s CEOP Command’s education programme designed to help protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation. Additionally, a free guidance pack is available from Thinkuknow to enable teachers and other practitioners working with families to deliver the films’ key messages to the parents that they work with.

Anybody who is worried that a child is being sexually abused can make a report to the NCA via the Safety Centre  or by using the Click CEOP button.

If you have concerns that a child is in immediate danger please dial 999.

New youth justice strategy announced

Scottish Government | 17 June 2015

Scotland’s new strategy to prevent children and young people from offending has been announced by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson as latest figures show the number of under 18s in custody has reduced by 70%.

Opening this year’s Annual National Youth Justice Conference, the Cabinet Secretary paid tribute to huge falls in youth crime and the work of agencies across the country, saying that the time was right to build on the success through a new strategy for Scotland.

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New Depute Chief Executive for CHS

15 June 2015

Following a public competition, Boyd McAdam, Chief Executive and National Convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) has today announced that Elliot Jackson is to be appointed to the new post of Depute Chief Executive at CHS. The interview process included the involvement of care experienced young people and Elliot will formally take up his role on 24 August.  


Child sexting cases 'reported daily' in UK

15 June 2015

Child protection officers are investigating an average of one case involving "sexting" every day, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has said. It said sending nude or explicit images of themselves on social media had become "normal" among teenagers. But it was leaving them vulnerable to exploitation or blackmail, it added. A campaign is being launched to give children and their parents advice if a child becomes involved in sexting. The NCA's centre for tackling abuse, Ceop Command, said it received an average of one report a day of a child protection issue linked to sexting.

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Social Work Research and Best Practice Showcase

12 June 2015

On Monday 8th June, WithScotland and the social work team at the University of Stirling hosted a display of the research and best practice of students completing their BA and MSc Social Work, PG Certificate Child Welfare & Protection and PhDs.

Local employers attended to find out how their findings could impact upon policy or practice developments and to help identify aspects of practice that would benefit from further exploration through student research and practice projects. 

The event also included the awarding of the inaugural Rona Woodward prize. In 2014, the social work group sadly lost a much loved colleague, Rona Woodward.  Rona coordinated the Children, Families and Society module and so her colleagues and family funded an award for the highest scoring student completing the module. Two students from the MSc Social Work Studies - Rhona Kerr and David Reid shared this top grade and were jointly awarded the prize. 

To view the work presented on  the day, please use the links below... 

Housing report warns of cost to future generations

The Herald | 11 June 2015

Scotland needs 23,000 new homes a year to protect children from lasting health problems a new report has warned.

The study, published by an independent commission on housing and wellbeing set up by housing charity Shelter Scotland, also says urgent action is needed to ensure all Scots have decent, safe secure homes, against the background of a growing housing crisis. Chaired by former auditor general for Scotland Robert Black, it says a failure to act now will risk the country's future wellbeing.

Full article

Half of UK children have witnessed cyber bullying on social networks

Primary Times | 11 June 2015

A new Intel Security study “The Realities of Cyber Parenting: What Pre-teens and Teens are up to Online”, which examines the online behaviours and social networking habits of children and parents in the UK, reveals disconnect between what parents think is happening online and what is going on in reality. 

Cyber bullying was, in particular, an issue for concern as nearly half of children (49%) surveyed ranked this as their top worry, with one in ten claiming to be a victim of cruel behaviour online. In comparison, just 12% of adults were worried about cyber bullying. With the summer holidays fast approaching, and with children likely to spend more time on the internet, best practices for online behaviour need to be addressed in every family home.

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Schools and carers must work together

10 June 2015

CHILDREN need support seven days a week, writes Alistair Gaw. In debates about child protection, people often think about social work as the profession which is most involved.

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Planning Aid Scotland launches set of new guidance material: Recognition of unique Gypsy/Traveller culture

Scottish Government | 10 June 2015

During March 2014-March 2015, PAS has been working on a Gypsy/Travellers planning awareness project funded by the Equality, Human Rights and Third Sector Division of the Scottish Government.

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Consultation - Scotland's Adoption Register Regulations 2016

10 June 2015

The Adoption Register Regulations will set out the key requirements for supplying, retaining and disclosing information to and from the Register. In order to allow the regulations to be drafted, Scottish Government would welcome comments on certain matters.

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Wellbeing for Young Scots Website

10 June 2015

The new ‘wellbeing for young Scots’ site provides an information point which children and young people can refer to access information on the key role of the Named Person, find out about wellbeing and what it means and how to get extra support.

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Universal Youth Work: A Critical Review of the Literature

10 June 2015

A literature review (full report, summary and presentation) by the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Youth Work Consortium on the impact of universal youth work is now available. This review, funded by YouthLink Scotland, the Robertson Trust and Youth Scotland, finds that universal youth work: - Improves young people's health and wellbeing outcomes. - Improves young people's educational attainment. - Improves young people's employment opportunities. - Draws traditions and principles that can identify and nurture the potential of young people in contemporary society, It also identifies the need for: - A more systematic approach to conducting and collecting evidence of the impact that youth work makes. - The youth work sector to be more informed about the nature and purpose of their impact through ongoing longitudinal research.

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Vacancy - National Co-ordinator, Violence Against Women Network

05 June 2015

An opportunity has arisen for a National Co-ordinator to provide support to local Violence Against Women partnerships across Scotland. The project is funded by Scottish Government for a period of 12 months with the distinct possibility of extension. The successful candidate will work strategically and provide support to implement the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe Strategy, providing support to local multi agency Violence Against Women Partnerships.

Further information

Preventing neglect of vulnerable children

05 June 2015

In a recent report from Impower, titled ‘Breaking the Lock: A new preventative model to improve the lives of vulnerable children and make families stronger’, the effectiveness and direction of UK councils’ approaches to dealing with the care for vulnerable children are considered. The report makes clear that a focus on prevention over care is not only better in terms of the social outcomes for individuals but also make greater sense on the finances of a public sector that continues to be under pressure from budgetary reductions. 

While the report notes that state care for children suffering long term neglect has considerable positive potential, entry into state care also comes with considerable risks. Children that have been in care make up less than 1% of the UK population, yet one in four of the adult prison population has been in care. There is also considerable correlation between homelessness and the care system, with a third of homeless people having been in care.

View full article

View report

Social Work Research and Best Practice Showcase

05 June 2015

The social work team at the University of Stirling and WithScotland, the national resource for the protection of children, are organising an event to showcase the research and best practice of students completing their BA and MSc Social Work, PG Certificate Child Welfare & Protection and PhDs. The aim of this event is to facilitate an exchange of knowledge between the University and practice to promote best practice outcomes. 

It will provide opportunities for dialogue between students and employers with a view to exploring how their findings could impact upon policy or practice developments. It will also enable employers to highlight aspects of practice that would benefit from further exploration through student research and practice projects.

Brigid Daniel, Professor of Social Work at the University of Stirling said: “This is an excellent opportunity to promote the importance of disseminating research findings and celebrate the work of our qualifying and post qualifying students. Social work at Stirling benefits from excellent relationships with partner agencies and this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate those partnerships.”

Beth Smith, Director, WithScotland, said: "WithScotland supports child protection practice, policy and research. One of our core functions is to help support the connections between research and practice and we are delighted to support this showcase event. This is the first time such an event has been held at the University and we hope that it will become an annual showcase of the work of students".  

The event will also include the awarding of the inaugural Rona Woodward prize. In 2014, the social work group sadly lost a much loved colleague, Rona Woodward. Rona coordinated the Children, Families and Society module and so her colleagues and family have funded an award for the highest scoring student completing the module. 

New model for social work launched in Aberdeen

Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce | 04 June 2015

Aberdeen City Council has launched a £3million overhaul of social work services that will cut down on red tape and allow staff to spend more time with families.  

The local authority is the first in Scotland to fully implement the Reclaiming Social Work model, which is aimed at reducing the number of children in care and delivering more positive outcomes for children and families across the city.

Large numbers of council staff have already undergone additional training as part of the ongoing transformation of the service, with further sessions planned this year. The system was designed in recognition that social workers across the UK were increasingly required to spend time on paperwork, with a reduction in the time spent working directly with children and families.

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The BMA calls for ban on alcohol ads at children's events

BBC News | 04 June 2015

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland has called for alcohol advertising at events aimed at children to be banned. BMA Scotland has backed the proposals included in a member's bill at the Scottish Parliament.  

The Health and Sport Committee are currently seeking written views on the bill, before it is debated by MSPs. BMA said it hoped the debate would draw attention to the "comprehensive alcohol strategy Scotland needs".

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Call for churches to be included in Scottish child abuse inquiry

Care Appointments | 04 June 2015

The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has today called on the Scottish National Inquiry into Historic Child Abuse to include within its remit abuse which involved churches.

CCPAS say there is a growing chorus of concern, being voiced by many survivors of abuse, that churches are being “let off the hook” in this process. This is despite them being places where abuse is just as likely to have occurred as institutions that are covered by the Inquiry, such as residential care homes and independent boarding schools.

Full article

£15million Scammed Out Of Angus Residents Every Year

04 June 2015

There is a warning residents in Angus are being scammed out of 15 million pounds every year. The staggering figure was revealed by agencies who have been reaffirming their commitment to tackling financial harm. Mark Hodgkins from Angus Council says authorities are coming together to target fraudsters.

Listen to interview on Tay FM

Aberdeen City Council in £3m social care shake-up

BBC News | 03 June 2015

A £3m shake-up of social services in Aberdeen is being aimed at seeing fewer children being taken into care. The city council hopes the initiative will cut down on red tape and allow staff to spend more time with families. Small teams will now deal with families instead of using a dedicated social worker. The authority is believed to be the first in Scotland to adopt the new structure.

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Christopher Eccleston: ‘Dementia dismantled my father’s personality’

The Guardian | 02 June 2015

My father was a hard-working, passionate man. He was an alpha male, and captain of his sports teams: someone who stood up to be counted, and never hid away. Like everyone, he had flaws – but he loved me very deeply, and I loved him. In 2000, he was diagnosed with vascular dementia – where blood supply to the brain becomes reduced. We are a stoical family, and that’s how we dealt with the news. As my mother would say, “You just have to get on with it.”

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ADAM (Another's Drinking Affects Me) - New Website For Teens

Alcohol Focus Scotland | 02 June 2015

A.D.A.M. has been developed in consultation with young people and professionals working with young people who have been affected by someone in their lives drinking.  

The website offers a safe way of exploring how you may be affected and has five character videos based on real life stories as well as an online directory of services .

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Alcohol Focus Scotland

Supporting women with alcohol issues: what social workers need to know

02 June 2015

Problematic alcohol use among women is often associated with domestic or sexual abuse or self-harm and requires a tailored and sensitive response from practitioners, says Dr Patsy Staddon.

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Fostered teenagers moved too often, survey finds

BBC Scotland | 01 June 2015

Teenagers in foster care in Scotland are being moved too often, according to a campaign group. Research carried out by the Fostering Network suggests almost half of fostered young people are already living with their third foster family since going into care.  

The group has warned that 750 more foster carers are "urgently" needed to meet the demands of the care system. It urged people to "open their hearts and homes" to vulnerable youngsters. Currently, more than 5,500 children are in foster care in Scotland, living with 4,400 families and carers.

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Protecting our Foster Kids’ documentary series announced by the BBC

01 June 2015

The team behind 'Protecting our Children' will look at the lives of social workers and foster children in Dorset council. Following the success of the documentary series, Protecting our Children, BBC Two will next month air another fly-on-the-wall social care series, this time about the lives of foster children and the social workers and carers who look after them. Protecting Our Foster Kids, which begins at 10pm on Sunday 7 June, will follow Dorset council’s fostering service.

More information 

Independent Chair of Falkirk Adult Support and Protection and Child Protection Committees

01 June 2015

Falkirk Council and partners are currently seeking to recruit an Independent Chair of Falkirk Adult Support and Protection and Child Protection Committees.  

More information is available - and applications should be made via the myjobscotland website