Pathfinder FAQ’s …

Eligibility / Criteria

Will the application process accept jointly supported bids?

Applications to become Pathfinder partnerships must comprise of a collaboration across all three statutory partners (Health, Social Work, Police) with demonstrable links with third sector and education partners. Scottish Government will work with the Fund Administrator, once procured, to develop eligibility criteria for the other funding streams.

What if an area would like to be a Pathfinder but they don’t have a building identified?

There is no requirement to have a building identified at the beginning. The Pathfinder phase is about gathering information and learning on what it is required to become a fully operational Bairns’ Hoose. This allows for a Pathfinder partnership to work towards identifying a building or developing a purpose-built “Hoose” during the phase.

Can you explain how children/young people will be assessing the applications, and therefore, should I be gearing my writing/ approach towards an adult audience (civil servants, etc.) or a child audience?

CYCJ link workers will work with young people to inform the application assessment. The link workers will present the information you provide in your application in a way that is appropriate – noting that the children will have different levels of understanding of Bairns’ Hoose and preferred ways of communicating. Your application does not therefore need to be addressed directly to a child audience. 

Would there be any specific criteria on children under ACR?

Within the Scottish Government’s agreed scope of Bairns’ Hoose, and as set out in our Vision statement, children under the age of criminal responsibility, irrespective of whether their behaviour may have caused harm or whether they may have been the victim of such harm, should have access to Bairns’ Hoose services.

There is an expectation that in designing and developing a local Bairns’ Hoose in the Pathfinder phase, there would be scope for a child under ACR to access its services.

Would there be any specific criteria on the Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM)?

Standard 6 of the National Bairns’ Hoose Standards, published on 31 May, set out the required standards for Joint Investigative Interviews and investigative interviews under the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019.  This included the expectation that all interviews will be undertaken using trauma-informed practice.  Where possible, the Joint Investigative Interview should be carried out using the Scottish Child Interview Model.  However, until the Scottish Child Interview Model is fully implemented across Scotland, it is recognised that other approaches to conducting investigative interviews with children, (for example the Step-Wise interview) continue to be utilised.  

We know therefore, that during the Pathfinder Phase there will be Joint Investigative Interviews conducted using different models. As Pathfinders test the Bairns’ Hoose Standards, they should align this work with their local implementation of the Scottish Child Interview Model. The Scottish Child Interview Model has a Quality Assurance and Data Framework that sets out the quality standards for this approach.  

Partnerships implementing the Scottish Child Interview Model must utilise this Framework to support their implementation, alongside Standard 6 of the Bairns’ Hoose Standards.

Would there be any specific criteria on age ranges of children and young people?

Our Vision statement sets out the scope for Bairns’ Hoose in Scotland as: 

  • all children under the age of 18 in Scotland who may have been victims or witnesses of abuse or violence, which has caused, or is likely to cause, significant harm
  • all children under the Age of Criminal Responsibility (ACR) whose behaviour may have caused, or risked causing, significant harm or abuse
How advanced do you need to be to apply to be a Pathfinder rather than access the development fund?

That would be for the partnership area to consider through collaborative agreement across all three statutory partners (Health, Social Work, Police), and with demonstrable links with third sector and education partners. It may be that those discussions are formative and a partnership area needs more time to look at how they might come together to make the transformational change required. For example, Pathfinders will be expected to demonstrate that they are using a methodological approach to change and learning. 

Pathfinder applicants who may not be successful will be encouraged to apply for funding via the Development Fund to continue their plans towards developing a Bairns’ Hoose.


How many Pathfinders will there be?

We expect there to be around 5 pathfinder partnerships, but this will depend on the number and strength of the applications we receive and the coverage. 

What contingency plans have been put in place, if there are not enough applications either made, or selected, to enable testing of all Standards throughout the Pathfinder phase?

We will consider overall Standards coverage as part of the selection process. Should this look to be insufficient we will continue to have conversations with key stakeholders and through our internal and external governance structures to work towards adequate coverage.

What will happen if there are no applications from the islands?

We will consider islands representation as part of the selection process. Should this look to be lacking, we will continue to have conversations with key stakeholders and through our internal and external governance structures to ensure that learning from island communities will feed into the Pathfinder phase.

An Islands Communities Impact Assessment (ICIA) is underway and will be considered throughout the development of Bairns’ Hoose. This will build on the findings of the ICIA published alongside the Standards and will ensure that the necessary learning is captured from islands communities. 

As part of the selection process we will also consider coverage of rural communities.


Will an indicative budget for each of the three funds be made available?

The Bairns’ Hoose Fund was announced on 1 June to be £6m for 2023-24. This overall fund covers the three funding streams. The allocation of that fund across the three funding streams is currently flexible and we envisage approximately half of the fund to be allocated to the Pathfinder partnerships in an equitable process. Scottish Government officials will work with an independent Fund Administrator, (expected to be appointed by September 2023) to develop criteria for each funding stream and confirm the total for each one. 

Is there a maximum amount a partnership can apply for and what is this figure?

This is to be determined. The Scottish Government will work with the independent Fund Administrator, (expected to be appointed by September 2023)  to develop criteria for each funding stream and confirm the total for each one, and any cap that may be applied.

Are you able to apply for more than one fund?

Areas would not be able to apply for both the Pathfinder Fund and the Development Fund. It is anticipated that the Thematic Fund would be open for Pathfinders and non-Pathfinders to apply, for discrete projects separate, but connected, to any work funded through the Pathfinder and Development Funds. 

If areas do not apply to become a Pathfinder, what is the process for them to access a Development Grant?

Through a grant bidding process to be agreed with the independent Fund Administrator. This will occur after Pathfinder partnerships have been appointed.

Will non Pathfinders be financially disadvantaged compared to those who are successful?

Non Pathfinder areas will be able to apply for funding under the Development Fund and the Thematic Fund but the focus of the Pathfinder Phase funding will be on the Pathfinder Partnerships, in order to maximise learning from those areas.

How can a partnership provide detail about their plans without knowing how much funding they might access from the Scottish Government?

The process is designed to be led by Pathfinder needs. We will take a flexible approach to the allocation of funding led by discussion with partnerships on their needs and with relevant stakeholders to consider the most effective spend and investment of the available overall fund. We envisage approximately half of the £6m overall fund to be allocated to the Pathfinder partnerships.

If areas are successful in securing some of the Bairns’ Hoose Fund for 23/24, is there an expectation this must be spent by March 2024 or can allocation be carried forward?

Processes and methodology around the allocation and utilisation of Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinder funding, including any conditions attached to the receipt of funding, will be decided by the independent Fund Administrator once appointed.

The Pathfinder phase is from 23-25 - what is the funding for the second half of this period?

Funding for 2024-25 has not been confirmed and is contingent on parliamentary budgetary processes. The Bairns’ Hoose Fund of up to £6m will support the Pathfinder phase in 2023-24, with a similar amount anticipated for 2024/25. Pathfinder partnerships will be kept up to date with details on this.

Why has the Scottish Government decided to appoint an independent Fund Administrator?

To provide a level of independence and transparency and to ensure robust grant management processes and monitoring in line with the complexity across three funding streams.

Can external stakeholders be involved in the development process for the bid fund?

We will work with the Fund Administrator to develop and refine the fund criteria guidance documents and associated systems and confirm how stakeholders may input to this process.

Can pathfinder funding (either the core or development funds) be used for capital spend, i.e. investment in buildings, refurbishment etc?

The Bairns’ Hoose Fund will include some capital funding but the detail of which funding streams it will be available through will be worked out with the independent Fund Administrator once appointed.

Any thoughts around what it will look like post 2024-25?

We appreciate the difficulty of long term planning for services and it is our intention to continue to support Bairns’ Hoose into the Pilot phase. However, all spending in future financial years is subject to Ministerial and parliamentary approval. 

Cross-sector collaboration 

What buy in has there been from the health sector?

Representatives from the health sector have been engaged in the development of the Bairns’ Hoose Standards, with Eddie Doyle, Senior Medical Advisor, Paediatrics, co-chairing the Standards Development Group with Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Advisor. Prior to that , Linda de Caestecker, then Director of Public Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, co-chaired this Group with Iona Colvin.

It is a key criteria that all three statutory partners, including health, have to be signed up to any partnership applying to become a Pathfinder.

To further support the role of health, a Ministerial led health engagement event has been scheduled for 19 September, to bring together NHS executive and strategic leads along with Chief Officers, who have responsibility for child protection and children’s services, to explore the implementation of the Bairns’ Hoose standards through the Pathfinder phase.

What work has been done with the criminal justice sector (e.g. COPFS, SCTS) to reduce the likelihood of a child having to give evidence live in court?

The criminal justice system consists of a number of organisations including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), Police Scotland, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and the Judiciary. 

The Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 (“the 2019 Act”) represents a significant milestone in the expansion of special measures to allow children to give evidence out with courtrooms and in advance of criminal trials. 

Scottish Government is working closely with COPFS, SCTS and others to continue to implement the 2019 Act. 

COPFS officials were involved in the development of the Bairns’ Hoose Standards, including Standards 6 and 7 which outline the trauma-informed approach for Interviews in the Bairns’ Hoose, and Support through the Court and Legal Process.  COPFS officials and senior representatives from Police Scotland also sit on the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group. 

How will we engage with children, young people and their families throughout the Pathfinder phase?

Engagement with children and young people in a meaningful and supported way, is part of the essential criteria to be a Pathfinder. Children, young people and their families should be involved in the design and development of the Pathfinder from an early point.

Each Pathfinder will be supported to share their learning from children and young people  with other Pathfinders through the community of practice. Healthcare Improvement Scotland will work with the Pathfinders to share learning from children, young people and families with non-Pathfinder areas and, where appropriate, the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group in a way that is right for the children and young people who shared their ideas and experiences.

Our approach to the participation of children and young people is set out in our Children and Young People Participation and Engagement Plan.

Trauma Informed Quality Improvement Framework 

What is the Quality Improvement Framework to develop trauma-informed organisations, systems and workforces?

The Framework is a self-assessment tool designed to help organisations identify and reflect on progress, strengths and opportunities for embedding a trauma-informed approach across policy and practice. It has been developed by the Scottish Government, COSLA, NHS Education for Scotland and the Improvement Service, in close collaboration with people with lived experience of trauma, experts by profession and people currently leading this work in their organisations. An Advisory Group, co-chaired by the Scottish Government and COSLA, provided expert guidance and quality assurance throughout the development process. 

What is the Quality Improvement Framework based on?

To create the Framework, we have drawn on: 

    • The evidence base from the literature about the impact of trauma-informed practice and existing international tools/ resources designed to support organisations with trauma-informed change; 
    • What people with lived experience of trauma have said would help improve access to support and recovery, and reduce re-traumatisation; 
    • What experts by profession and stakeholders across sectors and policy areas have told us would support them to implement a trauma-informed approach in their organisation; and 
    • Existing good practice from the Scottish context
    • Existing relevant Scottish frameworks and guidance that support key aspects of embedding a trauma-informed approach. This includes building on the principles of the Scottish Approach to Service Design and the Quality Improvement Journey Framework. 
Why are we being asked to use the Quality Improvement Framework to develop trauma-informed organisations, systems and workforces?

There is growing evidence that trauma-informed organisations, systems and practice, where the impact of trauma is understood by staff, and systems and ways of working are adapted accordingly, can reduce barriers for people to access support, through relationships, communities and services. This can ultimately help those of us affected by trauma to build our resilience, recover and experience improved outcomes.

Recognising that Pathfinder partnerships may be at different stages of  implementing  trauma-informed approaches, our aim is to support Pathfinder sites to take a systematic approach to trauma responsive practices across their partnerships in Bairns’ Hoose, and support implementation of the Bairns’ Hoose Standards.

Has a Pathfinder-specific self-assessment tool or template been developed to help consider readiness?

This will be developed over the coming months to look at tools from the Trauma Informed Quality Improvement Framework and the Standards, and will be supported throughout the Pathfinder phase.

The Bairns’ Hoose Standards

Is the intention for each Pathfinder to test all of the Standards, or only specific ones?

The expectation is that each Pathfinder will address all of the Standards but that we do not expect that all of the criteria within each Standard will be met. There will be some criteria that each Pathfinder will already be meeting and the idea is to look at where the gaps are and how they might be met.

Will there be an opportunity to review and amend the Standards following the Pathfinder phase?

We don’t anticipate the Standards will change but the criteria, interpretation and application may be revised based on learning to better support implementation.

What if having all services under one roof is too challenging?

This is something that can be explored during the Pathfinder phase. As per Standard 4.1: ‘Children access health, police, social work, recovery and justice services under one roof, where possible, unless it is demonstrably not in their best interests.’ The phase is all about learning about what works in different local contexts and settings to help us develop a blueprint for Bairns’ Hoose in Scotland which will inform development of the Pilot phase.  

Data, evidence and learning

How will the Pathfinder phase build on existing research and evaluation work?

We recognise that it is not realistic to expect to see impacts on children and young people’s long term outcomes within this phase, and research will be primarily focussed on the process of implementation and any related inputs and outputs. The analytical approach in this phase should therefore be understood more as exploratory research rather than formal evaluation.

We are funding the Children and Young People Centre for Justice (CYCJ) to provide analytical support, aimed at capturing learning from the Pathfinder phase, and lead on SCIM evaluation work. 

We will continue to liaise regularly with the national Joint Investigative Interview (JII) team to build on the learning from the Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM). As part of our approach we will also consider previous research and evaluation which will include the University of Edinburgh evaluation carried out for Children 1st.

How will learning from the Pathfinder Phase be gathered and shared?

As part of the Pathfinder phase, we will establish a Community of Practice group, comprising representatives from the Pathfinder partnerships, whose remit will include looking at data and evidence requirements.  

We will draw on the expertise within Scottish Government and the Pathfinder Project team to facilitate sharing of information within the Community of Practice and we intend to create an online space to further enable this.  

We will share knowledge and learning from this group through various means. We are in the process of establishing the most effective distribution mechanisms but this could include our website, webinars, and events.  

Will unsuccessful applicants/ those who did not apply, still be able to engage with learning and networking opportunities going forward?

Yes, we plan to establish a learning forum/ knowledge exchange, primarily for Pathfinders but with access for non- Pathfinders. 

This may be through our website, and also through events throughout the Pathfinder phase that will be for Pathfinder partnerships to share their learning with other areas.

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