News and Blogs Blogs Let’s value all of those providing our children with support, care and love Last week the UK Government wrote to councils in England urging them to prioritise adoption for children in care, fulfilling a Conservative Party manifesto promise. Adoption is a valued part of our system that can provide the stability young people need. Unfortunately, there is an assumption inherent in this announcement that children in care are “waiting” for a “permanent, loving home” – ignoring the reality that across the country foster carers, kinship carers and residential homes are already providing loving homes for our children. This is not to deny the challenges of improving the success and wellbeing of young people in and leaving care. In Scotland, just 1 in 4 young people leaving care are in education, training or employment; care-experienced young people are over-represented in homelessness applications; and are over-represented in the Scottish prison population. We can and must do better. In Scotland that work is underway, with the outcome of the root-and-branch review of our care system to be announced on the 5th of February. Staf has high hopes for this work and stands ready to play our role in the coalition for change that will support the implementation of its recommendations. The Care Review’s intentions already make clear that the “unique needs” of children and young people should be recognised when planning care that provides nurture, love and care. Prioritising one type of placement over others cannot deliver this outcome. The Scottish Government has recognised this in recent years, focussing on permanence through a range of options – including returning home, kinship care, foster care and adoption. Yet there still remains a need to better value and champion foster carers, who play an integral role in providing the stability, security and permanence that young people need. Of course, to deliver a system that with a range of care options that can meet the unique needs of children will require local services that are adequately financed. COSLA have recently noted that between 2013-14 and 2019-20, the day-to-day budget for local services has reduced by 7 per cent. It is clear that without increased investment in local services, not only put at risk our ambitions for care-experienced young people but the wellbeing of all of our young people. What we need is a fully-resourced care system, where local authorities have the finances, time and capacity to ensure that a range of options are available to provide children and young people with the permanent support, care and love they need. What we don’t need are simplistic solutions and soundbites that do a disservice to all of those supporting young people in our care system. Jo Derrick is Staf CEO.