The Scottish government has pledged that a £4 million per year fund to help improve the lives of care-experienced young people will continue up to 2024-25.
The Promise Partnership Fund, which enables organisations to better support children and young people in or on the edges of care, is open to public, private and third sector organisations and the final decision will be assisted by care-experienced young people.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has also welcomed publication of The Change Programme, which sets out what needs to happen over the next year to ensure Scotland keeps its Promise to improve the lives of children and young people in care.
Mr Swinney said: “The Promise Partnership Fund is an important because it provides additional resources to help organisations make the changes needed to enrich the lives of children and young people in or on the edges care.
“We will continue to work with The Promise Scotland, with service partners and importantly children and families to ensure we drive forward the transformational change that is required to make Scotland the best place to grow up where all children are loved, safe, respected and realise their full potential.”
Plan 21-24 mapped and sequenced more than 80 calls to action in the Independent Care Review’s conclusions and identified five priority areas for the coming three years. The Care Review, published in February 2020, urged a radical overhaul of Scotland’s ‘care system’.
Claire Burns, Director (Acting), CELCIS, said: “As Scotland’s Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection, we remain dedicated to working to ensure Scotland is able to realise The Promise of the Independent Care Review and to advance the changes and improvements we all want to see.
“Much of the work we are currently delivering supports organisations to improve and make these changes happen now, so we know that not only is change possible, but that change is happening,” she added.
The Promise Scotland has made an assessment of the work against three categories. In nine areas, work is underway; in fifteen areas work is underway but does not yet appear sufficient; and in one area there is little or no work underway.
While this first Change Programme was produced in the shadow of COVID-19, it clearly shows there is a lot to do, The Promise stated. The Promise Scotland Oversight Board will consider it, review mismatch and lack of alignment between national and local, system and service, practice and culture.
“Many of the children and families who weren’t previously well served by public services have been the hardest hit over the last fifteen months, feeling even more acutely the effects of poverty, abuse and neglect, the impact of poor housing, the challenges of loneliness and addiction. And suffering the greatest loss of life,” said a statement from The Promise.
“The pandemic intensified, but did not create poverty and trauma. These families, as well as many others who were previously coping but due to changes in circumstances outwith their control, may now need help. So too might the thousands of new parents, as COVID-19 chronically restricted their access to social and professional support networks,” the statement added.
The profound risk of these consequences is, it added, that more children enter Scotland’s ‘care system,’ when, with support, families could stay together and thrive.
Promise Scotland added that the long-term impact of the last year on children and young people is, as yet, unknown. However, not being able to get out to play with friends or see family, instead worrying about loved ones whilst trying to keep up with schoolwork, sometimes without the kit needed to learn and in accommodation not conducive to learning, has been devastating. There have been too many lost opportunities to take part in activities like sport, music, art.
However, the statement adds that the difficult truth is that “those circumstances are not far from the everyday, pre-pandemic reality of children and young people who experience the very worst of Scotland’s ‘care system’”.
Therefore, 18 months on from the Care Review there is no excuse for that ‘care system’ not to be gone for good.
Claire Burns of Celcis added: “There is still much to do and having The Change Programme to accompany The Plan can help us all to build on and accelerate this work to deliver on the pledges people and organisations across Scotland have made. Lived experience drove this ground-breaking review and shaped its ambitions; children and adults with experience of care must continue to be at the centre of the improvements being developed.
"Since the publication of The Promise last year, we have been offering, and will continue to offer, support in partnership to Keep The Promise for all our infants, children, young people and families,” she concluded.