Ahead of the beginning of the new session of the Scottish Parliament, Staf has called on the Scottish Government to take a number of steps to ensure that the wellbeing and success of young people leaving care is indistinguishable from that of their peers in the general population.


We recognise that to deliver the change we seek for all care-experienced young people will require whole-systems change – we hope this change will begin with the recommendations of the Independent Care Review. However, we also believe that there are changes that can be made now.


The Scottish Government is expected to set out its plans for the year ahead on Tuesday (3rd September) and Staf has called for this to include the following commitments.


Raise the upper age limit on the care-experienced bursary

We recognise that the transition to adulthood and interdependence can be more challenging for care-experienced young people so they may begin further or higher education later in life.


One of the peer leaders involved in our Youth Just Us project, Kevin Lafferty, has raised with us the issue of the upper age limit for the care-experienced bursary. Kevin has just begun college but hasn’t been able to access the bursary as he is 28. This issue was also raised by the young people who contributed to a recent CELCIS report on the experiences of care-experienced students.


All care leavers should be exempt from dental charges


This was raised by a young person at our meeting between young people, throughcare and aftercare workers and the First Minister in February and in our subsequent letter to the First Minister. You can read all about the meeting here. This call has been echoed by the young people of Youth Just Us.


Currently, only young people in education are exempt from dental charges up to the age of 19. We believe all care leavers should be entitled to free NHS treatment. In particular, this will ensure all of those in work are included.


Fully fund Continuing Care


This year the age limit for Continuing Care was increased to 21 – meaning all young people can stay in their final care placement until their 21st birthday. With the implementation now complete, specific funding for the policy is set to end this year. The Scottish Government should ensure that local authorities have the funding needed to fully implement this important policy. You can read more about our call to protect funding in last year’s Scottish budget here


Ensure care leavers don’t miss out on the new Job Grant

The Scottish Government is expected to bring forward final proposals for a new Job Grant for unemployed young people. In our response to The Scottish Government’s consultation on the Grant, we set out a number of changes that should be made to ensure care leavers don’t miss out on this benefit. In particular, we called for the application window to be increased to 42 days; for the qualifying benefit criteria to be changed to ensure young care leavers don’t miss out; and for further grant applications for care leavers.


Set out measures to tackle poverty amongst care leavers

We welcome the Scottish Government’s plan to introduce an Income Supplement to tackle child poverty. We believe that additional steps should be taken to better understand poverty levels amongst care leavers and specific action to tackle this. This should include specific action to tackle the cost of living, improving the availability of affordable housing and supporting care-experienced young people into work.   

To find out more, contact Staf's Policy and Communications Manager, Liam Furby on [email protected]