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Laying the foundations for Scotland’s Barnahus

18 Oct 2022

Children in Scotland is pleased to be part of a partnership, led by Children 1st, calling for the development of a Barnahus model in Scotland to support children and young people who have been victims or witnesses of violence. Here, Henry Mathias of the Care Inspectorate explains how work with Healthcare Improvement Scotland is developing a set of standards to make the ‘Bairns’ Hoose’ a reality for Scotland’s children.

Barnahus or ‘Bairns’ Hoose’, which originated in Scandinavia and has become commonplace across Europe, means that children can tell the statutory authorities what happened to them in a child-friendly and supportive place.

A new phase of national reform

Introducing Barnahus provides an exciting opportunity to build on Scotland’s strengths in responding to children who have experienced abuse and violence. Currently we have strong interagency working under the GIRFEC model, which includes Joint Investigative Interviews by police and social work.

How statutory agencies respond when allegations of harm are made is constantly improving, with recent changes including new standards for forensic medical services and greater support for vulnerable witnesses. Introducing Barnahus is therefore the next phase of this national reform programme.

Reducing trauma

Were we to have the model here, it should mean that children no longer have to repeat their story to different professionals in different locations, but instead all professionals work together as part of a specialist team in a building designed for children.

From the outset, therapeutic support should be available for children who have experienced or witnessed abuse and to non-abusing family members. Bairns’ Hoose should mean that less children have to give evidence in a court case, which can result in them experiencing further trauma.

The Care Inspectorate is pleased to continue joint work with Healthcare Improvement Scotland developing integrated standards for health, social care and social work. Agreeing national standards is the first step in the journey for Scotland to establish Bairns’ Hoose.

Take part in the consultation

In drafting Bairns’ Hoose standards, we have worked alongside groups of children with lived experience, as well as professional organisations. Children with lived experience have directly contributed to the wording of the draft standards and a child-friendly version has also been produced.

We are now inviting everyone with an interest in how we respond to children who have experienced or witnessed abuse to take part in the consultation on the draft standards.

The public consultation on the Bairns’ Hoose standards concludes on Friday 4 November. Please follow the links below for more information and details of how to take part and join the discussion.

Henry Mathias is Head of Professional Standards and Practice at The Care Inspectorate.

Children in Scotland’s Manifesto for 2021-26 calls on political parties to commit to “Learning from the findings of approaches such as the Scottish Barnahus pilot led by Children 1st, to support children and young people who have been victims or have witnessed violence, and committing to implementing and funding a national approach to this.”

Click here for more information from Children Ist on the guiding principles of a Scottish Bairns Hoose

Click here to access the draft standards developed by the Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (this includes a link to the consultation survey)

Children in Scotland and the Supporting the Third Sector Project (STTS) is inviting its members and any interested third sector organisations to join us on Zoom on Wednesday 26 October 2022 at 2pm to discuss the standards and how they promote: 

  • Children’s rights and how they are reflected throughout the standards
  • Reducing trauma and promoting recovery
  • The design and environment of any Bairns’ Hoose buildings
  • Confidentiality and information sharing
  • Planning and evaluation of services.

We will be joined at this meeting by Henry Mathias and Dr Louise Hill, Head of Policy, Evidence and Impact with Children 1st.

If you would like to join us, please email to register your attendance.


About the author

Henry Mathias is Head of Professional Standards and Practice at The Care Inspectorate

Click here for more

Why is a Bairns’ Hoose needed?

Find out more from Children 1st about what a Bairns’ Hoose is and why it’s needed in Scotland

Click here for more

Bairns’ Hoose Standards

The draft set of standards for a Barnahus (Bairns’ Hoose) model in Scotland

Click here to read

The Consultation survey

Open until 4 November 2022, your feedback will help develop the Bairns’ Hoose final standards.

Click here to access

Supporting the Third Sector Project

Building on the success of the National Third Sector GIRFEC (NTSG) Project.

Click to find out more

Our Manifesto for 2021-26

Learning from the Barnahus model is included within the calls of our Manifesto

Click here to read