In October 216, the First Minister made a commitment that Scotland would “come together and love its most vulnerable children to give them the childhood they deserve.” The subsequent commission of an independent review of Scotland’s care system, and the resulting Promise, has seen a national movement of care experienced young people’s voice being heard. Over 5,500 care experienced children and adults, families and the paid and unpaid workforce informed the subsequent series of recommendations published in February 2020.

Staf (Scottish Throughcare & Aftercare Forum) is Scotland’s only national membership organisation that represents the voice of Throughcare & Aftercare teams across the public and 3rd sector along with voices of young adults with care experience.  As with The Promise we have heard that children and young people have said they want to be loved; and we have heard from the workforce how important it is to them to have the time and space to build strong and meaningful relationships with the young people they support. We are committed to working with young people and those who support them in a coalition for change to deliver on the promise of a better care system.

The recently published Children’s Social Work Statistics 2020/2021 records a decrease in the number of infants, children and young people who are ‘looked after’ with an increased number ceasing to be ‘looked after’. The numbers are important for giving us an overview but most importantly is the lived experience of this journey and how the young people, and those around them, are supported to ensure that any ‘transition’ is undertaken in a meaningful and fully supported way. For young people growing into adulthood this is largely about learning and preparing for life as an independent young adult. Sadly we hear from too many young people ‘Leaving Care’ where they experience a cliff face that is too often driven by age criteria and not enough individualised and relational based approaches.

The statistics also highlight that although more young people have been eligible for Aftercare services, in fact a reduced number were in receipt of these. If this is about choices made by young people then so be it, but as the Promise states, “Older care experienced people must have a right to access to supportive, caring services for as long as they require them.” Aftercare services are primarily intended to help people access what they need to thrive and so it is important that any barriers to accessing these services are addressed. As a society, we expect that parents will be there to support their child, regardless of age and whether they physically still live in their home or not. Older care experienced people should be able to expect no less.

It is vital that we adopt the new approach to Scotland’s ‘care system’ as outlined in the Promise and we must learn from past mistakes in policy implementation, by ensuring that the system is fully-resourced with a skilled and nurtured workforce; co-produced by young people and those that support them; and has relationships and trauma-informed practice at their heart. We cannot let our young people down – promises have been made and, together, we must ensure they are kept.”

You can read the full article as featured in Scotland on Sunday, 10th April 2022 here.

Key Statistics relating to Throughcare and Aftercare 

Number of Young People Eligible for Aftercare 

2019/20 2020/21 %+-
6492 7323 11%

% Young People Eligible for Aftercare in Receipt of Aftercare 

2019/20 2020/21 %+-
57% 54% -3%

Number of Young People in Continuing Care Placement 

2019/20 2020/21 %+-
306 801 161%

%Young People Eligible for Aftercare in Education, Training or Employment 

2019/20 2020/21 %+-
24 23 -1%

% Young People Eligible for Aftercare with Pathway Plan/Coordinator 

2019/20 2020/21 %+-
Pathway Plan 79% 71% -8%
Pathway Coordinator  70% 70% 0%