“Continue our work to ‘Keep the Promise’ so that young people who experience the care system grow up loved and valued with the same opportunities as their peers”

First Minister’s Foreword, Programme for Government 2021 - 2033

We were very encouraged to see the First Minister’s statement writ large in this year’s Programme for Government as it firmly echoes our own vision and our hopes for the future of care experienced young people in Scotland. In fact many aspects of the Programme explicitly outlined policies relating to young people with care experience including:

  • Mentoring and Leadership programme supporting up to 15,000 care experienced and disadvantaged young people across 300 schools to reach their full potential
  • £11.6 million Care Experienced Children and Young People Funding, available to be invested to support all care experienced children and young people aged up to 26, including Care Experienced Grant of £200 per year for 10 years
  • A minimum national allowance for foster and kinship care
  • Reducing sibling separation
  • Young Person’s Guarantee: 2,600 opportunities for vulnerable and care experienced young people

‘Placing love and relationships at the centre for every child with experience of Scotland’s ‘care system’

The announcement of the £500m Whole Family Wellbeing fund is excellent news as it will ensure that the principles of The Promise are met by families being supported to stay together and looking at early intervention policies to reduce future harm. However, we must ensure that all young people in Scotland, including those currently in the ‘care system’ have the best lived experience possible and we must not lose sight of those living in the here and now.

Staf’s The REAL Toolkit, which stands for Relationships, Empathy and Love, will play a huge role in supporting young people and the workforce to navigate the choppy waters of transitioning out of care. With practical, digestible guides written by those with lived experience, the REAL Toolkit online resource will become the go-to for those looking to leave care or support those who are.

We are pleased that many of our calls to action were covered including a continued focus on trauma informed practice with the extension of the Trauma Training Programme to 2023. Our role in this programme to date has been incredibly rewarding. We have been very lucky to have had the insight from our trauma informed steering group Project Return who have produced creative and innovative ways to discuss issues around trauma and who have demonstrated the importance of applying a trauma informed lens to all aspects of life, especially following the last 18 months.

The pandemic has also further revealed and exacerbated the severe inequalities faced by young people with care experience who are more likely to experience poverty, homelessness, ill health, poor educational attainment and unemployment. It is reassuring to see targeted commitments on all of these issues but it is vital that any targets are at a minimum met, but we really should aim for them to be exceeded. Addressing homelessness and properly resourcing mental health support will go a long way to improving the lives of care leavers as will the Young Person’s Guarantee and discussions around a Minimum Income Guarantee. We will continue to champion Minimum Income Guarantee pilots for Care Leavers in the year ahead as we strongly believe that to be a vehicle out of poverty for some of our most vulnerable young people.

From our own experience and listening to our members and young people we know that relationships and trauma informed practice are key to ensuring the lives, outcomes and opportunities of care experienced young people match those of their peers. We will do all we can to continue to support the workforce to support our young people and this Programme for Government gives us hope that a year from now there will be significant inroads on that pledge. We are ready to help make that a reality.