The Promise Oversight Board have produced their second report on the progress being made on Plan 21 -24. Here we draw out the key themes and messages for care leavers and the workforce.

"Keeping the promise is non negotiable"

The Promise Oversight Board are charged with monitoring and reporting on the progress of the Promise. Following last year's report, which you can access here, this second report doesn't hold back. Whilst highlighting that progress has been made, and we know of many great examples from our members, the board fear that the Plan 21 - 24 will not be met in time, but that there is still hope that the commitments made will be realised by the overall deadline of 2030. 

The report starts by reminding people why it is so important we do all keep the promise, with these sobering statistics. 

The board highlighted three areas where there is progress, but also where improvements can be made. 


Plan 21 - 24 was clear that education systems needed to be ambitious for care experienced young people and schools to be trauma informed, safe places where relationships can be fostered.


  • The impact Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) has made and its support of all care experienced young people. Changes have been made to the care experienced student bursary to focus more on engagement, rather than being linked to a 100% attendance requirement. The needs based approach is welcome. Awareness of bursaries must be raised and students must be supported in the application process. 
  • The virtual school model is expanding across Scotland. This involves a virtual school head teacher who is a senior member of education staff in a local authority, but not in a physical school building. Their responsibilities focus on improving the educational experiences and outcomes of care experienced children and young people. Many areas now have a designated care experience lead and collaboration takes place across the network to share good practice.
  • Tutoring programmes 
  • Importance of fostering strong relationships for those in education settings. 
  • Study sessions for care experienced students in higher education from the point of application
  • Peer support and a way to share views.
  • A ‘named person’ for each care experienced student. 

Improvements to be made 

  • Define what it means to be care experienced in legislation to ensure all those that can access support are able to. 
  • Education improvement plans to specify how the schools intend to improve attainment levels for care experienced students and their commitment to the Promise.
  • Care experienced children and young people’s education plans should be aspirational and reviewed regularly.
  • Schools should endeavour not to move children unless absolutely necessary and if needed they are to have robust support systems in place. 
  • Improve post school destinations with consistent financial and practical support, with focus on sustainable employment and education options. 
  • Improve interagency working by making it known that its everyone's responsibility to keep the promise, not just social workers.
  • Data sharing and collaborative working to be improved and made more straightforward. 
  • Ensure no formal and informal exclusions. 
  • ALL schools to deliver commitment, not just scattered across the country.

Brothers and sisters 

Plan 21 - 24 states that where possible, brothers and sisters should be kept together. The lack of data from Local Authorities on this matter makes it difficult to judge progress being made on this commitment. The report also highlights that the number of available foster carers is decreasing, especially those suitable for family groups, making it even harder to keep siblings together. However the data does show the numbers of families being separated has not declined since 2017. 


  • Improved understanding and training of the legislation and why it matters in local authorities. 
  • Increased scrutiny of decisions resulting in separating siblings.
  • Work being made to increase number of suitable 'placements' for family groups and increasing numbers to allow siblings to live close together.
  • Support provided to families to enable young people to be looked after at home or with kinship carers.
  • Helping families who do live separately to stay connected in safe and supported spaces. 

Improvements to be made

  • Better collection and collation of data.
  • Local authorities to demonstrate they are providing advocacy services to ensure children who are separated can share their views in a variety of ways, that suit their needs.
  • Agreement on foster care payments between COSLA and the Scottish Government (something we are hearing loudly from our Implications of Continuing care focus groups).
  • Progress is to be made across the board. Not confirmed to certain areas or authorities. 


"Non care experienced young people do not have an expiry age for leaving the stability and comfort of their family home."

As we heard at the Staf Summit in March 23, accessing affordable and appropriate housing for care leavers is becoming an increasing issue leading to risks of homelessness, which the promise stated would be eradicated. However recent figures, which don't distinguish between care and non care experienced young people have increased in recent years. 


  • Improved support for young people transitioning out of care including options to return or stay longer, for example by foster carers becoming supported carers.
  • Better practical, emotional and wellbeing support for care leavers including ensuring they have a passport, digital devices, budgeting and home maintenance skills, access to bursaries and other financial supports, work experience and paid opportunities, and trail flats.
  • The work of The National House project, which Staf evaluated in 2022, was also highlighted. 
  • Designing processes and services which make it easy for the young person to access support including coordination roles to work between social work and housing teams, multi-agency working to create a ‘one stop shop’ style service for young people transitioning out of care and the creation of protocols to ensure that care leavers are given priority access to housing. 

Improvements to be made 

  • Re-instate the prevention pathways for care leavers.
  • Stronger partnership working which considers the needs of care experienced young people, that they can access affordable homes where they will thrive.
  • Reliable implementation of good practice at scale.

What else to consider?

In the Appendix that follows acknowledgements of the following areas were made which have implications on the delivery of The Promise.

  • Workforce crisis in recruitment and retention of social care staff.
  • Issues accessing mental health support, particularly for those aged 16+ who are considered adults in the mental health legislation. 
  • Care and Justice Bill, if passed, will ensure 16 and 17 year olds no longer get sent to young offenders institutions. A move welcomed by the Oversight Board. 
  • Uncertainty of proposed National Care Service and its relationship with Children's Services and the impact delays and uncertainties have on the implementation of The Promise.
  • Impact of the English Care Review and cross border placements which the oversight board wish to end, unless in the best interests of the child

The Oversight Board plays an integral role in delivery of the Promise and while hard to hear that Plan 21 - 24 may not be delivered in time, we at Staf are committed to ensuring that we support our members to play their part to deliver on the commitments by 2030.
We will do all we can to ensure that care leavers are provided with the scaffolding to keep them and their lives stable, full of ambition and feel safe, respected and loved. 

Download full report