Pathfinder Phase

As part of the development of Bairns’ Hoose, we will be taking a three-phased approach.

Phase 1 is the Pathfinder phase 

Phase 2 is the Pilot phase  

Phase 3 is the national rollout 

What is a Pathfinder and how is it different from a Pilot?

A Pathfinder is a test site, that will act as a proof of concept by testing the application of the Standards in practice. Using a series of tests of change, it forms part of a quality improvement and service design process.

The difference between the Pathfinder and Pilot phases is the stage of development. A Pilot will be more progressed than a Pathfinder, with the expectation of the implementation of all Bairns’ Hoose services and Standards as fully as possible. The Pilot phase will include full evaluation, including evaluation of outcomes for children, young people and their families. 

Pathfinders will: 

  • Implement Bairns’ Hoose services against the Standards, with an understanding that Partnerships may not meet all of the Standards initially 
  • Test the Bairns’ Hoose Standards in the context of different geographical and operational models so that we can understand what works and doesn’t work – for example in island and remote communities there may be specific challenges on whether having all services under one roof is in the best interests of the child or not, so this is something we are looking to explore
  • Allow us to learn about the systems and culture changes required to achieve our Bairns’ Hoose vision; as well as the methods, practices and resources required to facilitate the transformational change 
  • Gather data that will act as the baseline for the evaluation of the Pilot

With the Pathfinders work, we will have started to improve the experience of some children, young people and their families in the justice, care, and recovery services.  We will have developed knowledge about how the Standards work in practice in different contexts to enable the design of a national Bairns’ Hoose model (the what) and required support (the how) which will underpin the Pilot phase.

As part of the selection process, to ensure we get as much rich learning as possible during the Pathfinder Phase, we will be looking to include Partnerships that:

  • Cover island, remote and rural communities
  • Are at different development stages in their Partnership working and
  • Cover a range of operating models and facilities such as:
    • out of office hours; 
    • live court links; 
    • forensic medical examination suites; 
    • and cross boundary agreements.

What are the benefits of becoming a Pathfinder?

  • Opportunity to design and implement new ways of working to deliver meaningful trauma-informed outcomes, with benefits to both community and workforce.
  • Opportunity to engage with Scottish Government and influence policy development.
  • Opportunity to identify and share both enablers and barriers.
  • Opportunity to shape Bairns’ Hoose nationally through the development of the Bairns’ Hoose national toolkit.
  • Peer support to share learning and to bring pathfinders together as a community of practice.
  • Access to Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinders Fund.

The Bairns’ Hoose funding model

The Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinder Phase Fund has three streams – Pathfinder Fund, Development Fund and Thematic Fund. 

Pathfinder Fund – aims to identify and provide grant funding to a small number of Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinder partnerships.

Development Fund – aims to provide a range of smaller Developmental Grants to organisations/ partnerships that are at an earlier stage of their Bairns’ Hoose journey.

Thematic Fund – aims to support thematic tests of change such as: therapeutic support and recovery services, as well as workforce support.

The Pathfinder phase will commence with 4 stages:

  1. Pathfinder applications and selection of partnerships
  2. Pathfinder application for funding
  3. Information on Thematic and Development funds
  4. Applications open for Thematic and Development funds

Pathfinder partnerships will not be precluded from also bidding for funding from the Thematic Fund.

The Pathfinder criteria

All applicants must meet the minimum criteria for Pathfinder Partnerships with the commitment to provide the required resource and partnership leadership to achieve the overall aim of the Pathfinder Phase. 

They must commit to:

  1. Be a Pathfinder Partnership from 2023 – 2025.
  2. Work towards becoming a Bairns’ Hoose and to apply the Standards.
  3. Test Standards in current context and conduct GAP analysis on application of the Standards and report on findings.
  4. Comprise of a collaboration across all three statutory partners (Health, Social Work, Police) with demonstrable links with 3rd sector and education partners.
  5. Meaningfully involve children and young people with lived experience of child protection and justice processes in the design and delivery of the Pathfinder work.
  6. Develop trauma responsive approaches across the Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinder partner organisations, systems and workforces in line with “Creating Trauma-Informed Change: What, Why and How A Quality Improvement Framework for Trauma-Informed Organisations, Systems and Workforces in Scotland”.
  7. Gather, analyse and share relevant data for learning and monitoring at regular intervals.
  8. Share information and learning openly and honestly.

The assessment process 

The assessment of Pathfinders will be undertaken in two stages. 

There will be a Level 1 Assessment Panel of Scottish Government assessors; this panel will summarise the applications and make recommendations to a Level 2 panel. The Scottish Government has funded Healthcare Improvement Scotland to engage with children and young people through their link worker model to receive their assessment of the applications. This input will be considered alongside individual scores.

The Level 2 panel comprises Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinders Programme Board members and the independent Chair of the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group. This panel will agree the Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinders selection, based on the summary recommendations of the assessment panel.

Successful Pathfinders will then be asked to submit formal funding proposals, to formally contract their participation. All decisions are subject to Ministerial approval.


The key dates in the process are:

12 June – 21 August 2023:
Pathfinders Applications open

June/July 2023:
Pathfinder Engagement events

August/September 2023:
Assessment of Pathfinders

October 2023:
Pathfinders announced

October/November 2023:
Development of grant bidding process begins

We are aware that these are ambitious timelines so we are aiming to  have flexibility within our phased approach. This is new territory for all of us, so we’re keen to listen and learn from partnerships and stakeholders throughout the Pathfinder phase.

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