The PACE banner

Here, you’ll find a range of information and resources offering an insight into CELCIS’s national Quality Improvement programme: Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE).

The recorded webinars, reports, blog posts, and other resources on this page detail how we used Quality Improvement to support 27 of the 32 Scottish local authority partnerships that embarked on the programme, to reduce timescales in providing a permanent home for babies, children and young people.

What is PACE?

It is every child’s right to have a safe, secure and stable home in which to grow up. For some children, their family life at home can become challenging, for whatever reason, and there is a need for outside support. Local authorities and key agencies involved in permanence decision-making need to work alongside the child and their family to decide what best meets the child’s immediate and long term needs and where their permanent home should be – this is known as permanence planning. This decision making process can often take far too long.

Delays in reaching a decision can lead to children experiencing a period of uncertainty until a final decision is made about their future care (known as permanence, the four possible routes to which are shown in the diagram below). Often, such uncertainty can be prolonged. Many children experience multiple different homes – in kinship, foster or residential care – thus preventing the emotional, physical and legal permanence they have a right to whilst waiting for decisions about their care to be made. Research clearly shows that delays in decision-making about a child’s permanent home can mean poorer life chances for children with the potential to seriously impact on the rest of their lives.

Poster - the four routes to permanence

The PACE programme was born out of a need to address these concerns. In 2014, the Scottish Government commissioned CELCIS to develop a whole system change programme to be delivered in partnership with Scottish local authority areas. The aim was to reduce what was identified as drift and delay in permanence planning and prevent the long periods of waiting and uncertainty that so many children experience. At the heart of this objective was that, after a thorough assessment of a child’s unmet needs, permanence decision-making would progress with minimum disruption to enable every looked after child in Scotland to have a safe and secure home to grow up in.

The PACE programme launched in 2014. In total, it was offered to 32 local authorities, embarked on by 27, and by 2020 was completed in 25. The PACE Collaborative, a more condensed, year-long version of the original PACE programme, launched in 2019 and was undertaken by the final five of the 25 areas to complete the programme. The programme concluded in the summer of 2020.

National PACE Aims

National PACE Aims were developed in order to ensure that the improvement efforts in local authority areas were focused on all children who are ‘looked after’ under Scotland’s child protection legislation, regardless of where they were living. These aims also addressed delays in decision making throughout the entirety of the permanence planning process.

PACE aims diagram

Quality Improvement in practice: Learning from the PACE programme

To mark the end of the PACE programme, CELCIS has developed a suite of resources for anyone working in the public sector looking to lead and sustain improvement in local services by using Quality Improvement tools and methodology.

Through a PACE reflections report, a series of recorded webinars, blog posts from those working at the heart of the programme, and other useful resources, we provide a detailed insight into how CELCIS worked alongside the people who deliver the services and know them best, to enable real change for infants, children and young people.

“I hope that in the next five years…the sense of collaboration that has become part of PACE becomes a real sustainable feature of the Scottish childcare landscape.”

Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter at the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) speaking at Gathering PACE 2018

PACE: the full story

The PACE reflections report, ‘Quality Improvement in practice: leading real change for children’s services’, provides a detailed insight and analysis into each stage of the PACE programme.

It sets out the fundamental ways in which PACE focused on leading and sustaining improvement, including how and why it was set up, engaging with key people and agencies, strengthening the workforce, and the importance of data in Quality Improvement. It provides information on key changes that were tested and implemented, the milestones achieved at each stage, challenges that were overcome, and the overall impact on the lives of the infants, children, young people and their families.

Each section also details the lessons learned at each stage of the programme, which could be applied to Quality Improvement programmes within a variety of settings.

Testing Change Ideas to Improve Permanence Timescales for Looked After Children: Experiences of the Two Week Planning Meeting

The PACE Two Week Planning Meeting report presents qualitative research undertaken in one of the Scottish local authorities involved in the PACE programme.

The research focused on the decisions, activities, and reporting that one local authority partnership undertook when testing a change idea within the PACE programme: Introducing a formal Looked After Child Review meeting at two weeks (‘Two Week Planning Meeting’).

Alongside this, the report examines the impact of that test on professionals and processes within the local authority area.

PACE recorded webinars

To mark the PACE programme drawing to a close, we brought together PACE consultants, frontline practitioners and senior managers in local authority areas to record a series of discussions on key parts of the programme. Through 20 recorded webinars and a wide range of accompanying resources including blog posts, reports and 'how to' guides, we cover a wide range of themes for anyone involved or interested in driving and sustaining improvement in a variety of settings.

The webinars are split into sections, outlined below, which represent the entire Quality Improvement journey from start to finish.

PACE: the first steps

PACE: the first steps

The PACE: the first steps recorded webinars introduce some of the key details of the programme. We provide insight into what is required to secure leadership buy in and engage with key people working in relevant organisations, and discuss each of the four national PACE Aims in detail, including the key change ideas that led to improvements in permanence planning for babies, children and young people.

Watch the recorded webinars
Using Quality Improvement

Using Quality Improvement

The Using Quality Improvement recorded webinars provide an insight into how this methodology was used in the PACE programme. Through key themes including data and timelines, in addition to a range of case studies, we look at how Quality Improvement brought about real change for babies, children and young people, and empowered the people who work in services.

Watch the recorded webinars
Permanence in practice

Permanence in practice

The Permanence in practice recorded webinars look at some of the fundamental themes that surround all four legal routes to permanence (remaining or returning to live with parents; a permanence order; a kinship care order; or an adoption order), including the importance of participation with children and young people, kinship care, assessment and report writing, and concurrency planning.

Watch the recorded webinars

Reflections from the PACE Delivery Team

Reflections from the PACE delivery team


In this final recorded webinar, the PACE delivery team discusses some of the key findings from the PACE programme and how we can use what we’ve learned to help implement The Promise of the Independent Care Review.  

Watch the video here

View the transcript and extra material

Additional resources and further reading

PACE: the first steps

Below are some additional resources to sit alongside the PACE: the first steps page.

Using Quality Improvement

Below are some additional resources to sit alongside the Using Quality Improvement page.

Timeline resources 

Permanence in practice

Below are some additional resources to sit alongside the Permanence in practice page.

Voices from PACE

The videos and resources below share the voices of some of the people and organisations involved in the PACE programme. 

Gathering PACE events

Aberdeen City Council


City of Edinburgh Council

East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership

Dumfries and Galloway Council

  • Understanding children's journeys (2018): Alison Penman, Locality Social Work Manager from Dumfries and Galloway Council, explains how her team has been able to use data to help visualise a child's journey through care.

Orkney Children's Panel

Renfrewshire Council

Shetland Islands Council

  • Visualising the difference (2018): David McQueen, Team Leader, Family Placement Services at Shetland Island Council, explains how data is being used to help support decision making for children and young people in Shetland to achieve better outcomes.


Blog posts

The blog posts below share the voices of some of the people and organisations involved in the PACE programme. 

Looking for more information or support?

Get in touch with our Permanence Team, we’d be delighted to hear from you.