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Scottish government announces fund to prevent children going into care

A £500 million fund has been announced by the Scottish government designed to keep families together and prevent children being taken into care.

The Whole Family Wellbeing Fund aims to significantly reduce the number of children and young people in care by 2030 by helping families to overcome challenges before they reach crisis point. 

Care figures

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We want to create a Scotland where more children will only know care, compassion and love, and not a ‘care system’.

“The Whole Family Wellbeing Fund, backed by at least £500 million over this Parliamentary term, will help us to make this a reality and prevent families reaching crisis point.

“Our ambition is that, from 2030, we will be investing at least 5% of all community-based health and social care spend in preventative whole family support measures that will enable us to continue to Keep The Promise.

“This fund, focused on prevention, will enable the building of universal, holistic support services, available in communities across Scotland, giving families access to the help they need, where and when they need it,” he added.

The programme will provide support on a range of issues, including:

  • child and adolescent mental health
  • child poverty
  • alcohol and drugs misuse
  • educational attainment

The Scottish Government made a commitment to thousands of care experienced children and adults to Keep The Promise in 2020. This included ‘where children are safe in their families and feel loved they must stay – and families must be given support together to nurture that love and overcome the difficulties which get in the way’.

Chair of The Promise Scotland Fiona Duncan said: “The Whole Family Wellbeing Fund is welcome and The Promise Scotland looks forward to working with the Scottish Government and others to ensure it leads to more children and young people staying together with their families, wherever it is safe for them to do so, to feel loved, and to receive the help and support they need, when they need it.

“The Promise Scotland continues to work to ensure Scotland Keeps the Promise and work is on track to deliver the first part of the transformative route map by 2024. This funding is a step in the right direction towards ensuring we all Keep the Promise,” she added.

It was also announced in Programme for Government that as part of the work to Keep The Promise, young care leavers will be able to access a new Care Experience Grant. The £200 a year grant for 16 to 26 year olds, backed by annual investment of up to £10 million, recognises the financial disadvantages often experienced by those in care.

The Family Wellbeing Fund will be informed by the work of the Family Support Delivery Group, which CELCIS is a member of. The Programme pledges ongoing commitments to:

  • Work with local authorities to introduce a minimum national allowance for foster and kinship care, to improve consistency and transparency for children, their families and their carers.
  • Continue work with the Kinship Care Collaborative to deliver national and local improvements to better support children living in kinship care.
  • Introduce the new Care Experience Grant, a £200 annual payment over 10 years to young people with care experience.
  • Work with The Promise Scotland to undertake a redesign of the Children’s Hearings System.
  • Publish a Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26, backed by a further £50 million Tackling Child Poverty Fund.
  • Provide a £520 payment for every child in receipt of free school meals, ahead of roll out of the Scottish Child Payment to under 16s.
  • Roll out two significant new devolved benefits for disabled people – Child Disability Payment and Adult Disability Payment.
  • Provide free school lunches for all primary school children, including provision in the school holidays for those who need it most.
  • Provide £1 billion for the Scottish Attainment Challenge, including: a refresh to further empower headteachers, support education recovery plans, and improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty; and £11.6 million Care Experienced Children and Young People Funding to be invested to support all care experienced children and young people aged up to 26.
  • Provide recurring funding of £145.5 million to additional teachers and support assistants.
  • Provide a digital device for every school-aged child
  • Take steps towards the introduction of a Bairns’ Hoose by 2025 to support child victims and witnesses with a child-friendly, trauma-informed centre in the justice system.

New legislation is also proposed including a National Care Service Bill to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in 2022 and a Children’s Care and Justice Bill within the lifetime of this parliamentary session to support the transformation in criminal justice services for those under the age of 18.

Claire Burns, Director (Acting) of CELCIS, said: “The new Programme for Government rightly prioritises the needs of Scotland's children, young people and their families and carers. The new Family Wellbeing Fund commits investment in the support we know families need, what works for them, and how we realise The Promise. This investment is essential but not sufficient to ensure transformational change. It is only by working together in collaboration with people who have lived experience of care, and those working across public and voluntary services, that the investment can be truly impactful. Improving the lives of children and families depends on creating and securing the additional capacity, change expertise, leadership readiness and infrastructure that this type of change requires.”

Martin Crewe, Barnardo’s Scotland director, said: “Over the past few years there has been an increasing recognition that family support is an effective response to many of the current key priorities for children and young people - including mental health, early intervention to reduce the number of children coming into care and reducing the poverty-related education attainment gap.

“A key catalyst has been the work of The Promise team which is taking forward the recommendations from the care review and has highlighted that current activity on family support is simply not sufficient.

“Now is the time for bold action and this announcement should be seen as an investment for the future.  

“When governments announce their spending plans, the numbers can sound large but the reality is that the money becomes thin when spread right across the country.

“This is a step in the right direction, but if we are to keep The Promise, we need a long-term commitment from government to take forward the work of the Family Support Delivery Group and deliver large scale investment to ensure family support is universally available,” he concluded.

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