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Scotland launches plan to improve care system following independent care review

An ambitious programme outlining the key priorities for work in the care system over the next three years in Scotland to deliver the promise made by the Independent Care Review has been published.

Plan 21-24 focuses on what must be done during the period from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2024, providing priorities and areas of focus for organisations to work to achieve the required change over the next three years.

It follows the publication of the Independent Care Review in February 2020 which urged a radical overhaul of Scotland’s ‘care system’.

Claire Burns, Acting Director of CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, said: “The publication of The Plan for the next three years provides a further confirmation of the direction of travel so many of us embarked on as the Review was doing its work. Change is necessary, change is possible, change is happening. We have seen this over the extraordinary circumstances of the last year. There is still much to do and we're committed to continuing our work with people across Scotland to Keep The Promise for all our children, young people and their families.”

The Independent Care Review in Scotland listened to more than 5,500 experiences and over half of those were children and young people with experience of the ‘care system’, adults who have lived in care and their families. The other responses came from the workforce.

It revealed a system that is fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling for far too many children and families and which does not adequately value the voices and experiences of those in it. The review called for:

- The balance of power must be upended so that listening to children and young people is always the basis of all decisions made about their lives.

- A focus on building and maintaining life-long relationships – that includes a broader understanding of the risk of not having long term, loving relationships.

- Scotland must parent, not process, children so there is no difference between the lives of children in care and their peers.

- Families must be kept together wherever it is safe to do so. Families must get the support that is right for them at the earliest opportunity and it must be flexible, consistent, patient and free from stigma. This will mean that more children can live a safe, happy life at home with their families.

As a result of the review’s findings, Plan 21-24 is the first of three plans that will set out how Scotland will, by 2030, #KeepThePromise made by the Independent Care Review.

Fiona Duncan said: “It is ambitious. It is bold. It will deliver transformational change. And it only exists because of the care experienced babies, infants, children, young people and families who campaigned for the Independent Care Review and then selflessly shared intimate and often painful experiences of the ‘care system’ in the hope of change. Change that would mean that children, young people and families were listened to, respected, involved and heard in every decision that affects them. Change that would support families to stay together and prioritise the safe loving relationships that are important to children and young people. Change that would make love the value that drives everything and that everything operates around.”

“That change is here. And this is Scotland’s plan to deliver it. Plan 21-24 is truly ground-breaking,” she added.

The ordering of the Care Review’s conclusions have been translated into five priority areas of change:

- A good childhood

- Whole family support

- Supporting the workforce

- Planning

- Building capacity

Each priority area contains actions that will be achieved by 2024. These actions cover a wide range of important areas such as; family therapy, support for children of young children, schools and exclusion, the importance of safe, loving relationships, youth justice, advocacy, independent living, values and the workforce, investment, information-sharing, data, legislation, children’s hearing system and inspection and regulation.

The Change Programme will be published at the end of May. It will outline who and what need to work together to drive towards the changes needed in Plan 21-24.

The Promise Plan 21-24

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