"We will support care leavers into employment. This is just one of the ways in which we will work to keep our Promise to those with experience of care. I will also personally convene a dedicated Cabinet Sub Committee for The Promise - we will not let those with care experience down." First Minister's Statement, Programme for Government 

This year's Programme for Government was the first under the new leadership of Humza Yousaf. The content built on his previous policy prospectus Equality, opportunity, community: New leadership - A fresh start and continued many of the policies started by his predecessor. Here we pick out commitments relating to care experienced young people and the workforce who support them. 

We were buoyed to hear care leavers being mentioned directly in the statement to Parliament, with a commitment to supporting care leavers into employment, something we have been looking at for some time in our Care Leavers into Employment, Training and Education focus groups. On further reading, the  commitment is to utilise the Job Start Payment, and the Care Experienced Internship Programme at Social Security Scotland to pursue these goals. 

We know that for many the cost of living crisis is a real and present experience which is why we were pleased to see commitments to extending childcare and increasing the Scottish Child Payment which will benefit many care experienced parents.

Work on a Minimum Income Guarantee is ongoing, with the expert group continuing to look at ways to deliver in Scotland which includes working with the UK Government to commit to an Essentials Guarantee to ensure cost of essentials, including food, transport, energy and to ensure that deductions, such as debt repayments to government, sanctions, or as a result of the benefit cap, can never pull support below this level. In the meantime we will continue our work to pilot a Guaranteed Income for Care Leavers, similar to that being piloted in Wales. See recent BBC news item for the policies impact to date.

With homelessness figures on the increase, we were also pleased to see a commitment to "reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness wherever possible and, where homelessness cannot be prevented, acting quickly to move people into settled homes" and also to continue to promote Housing First, which provides a settled tenancy and wraparound support, as the default response for people experiencing homelessness, including young people leaving care. However as we know, and heard at out Summit in March 23, we need to address issues of affordability, availability and suitability before homelessness can really be addressed. 

For our members in the third sector, there was a commitment to a plan Fairer Funding in Scotland, with clearer and more consistent processes along with recognising the positive impact third sector organisations play in society. Although for some, this commitment has not gone far enough.

For care experienced young people in conflict with the law, the Justice Minister emphasised the Government's commitment to seeing the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill through Parliament and ensuring that no under 18s are in YOI by the end of 2024, supported by investing in alternatives to custody. 

Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills reiterated her commitment to delivering the Promise, with policies such as the Scottish Recommended Allowance for Foster and Kinship Carers,  and she also highlighted the creation of the Promise Cabinet Sub-Committee, "chaired by the First Minister, to enable the cross-portfolio change required to improve outcomes for Scotland’s care experienced children, young people, adults, and families." which will look at the impact that prevention and philanthropy could have in delivering change. 

Ms Gilruth also committed to expanding the Virtual School Head Teacher Network, to offer a formal response to the Children's Hearing System Redesign, launch a consultation on care leaver support, publish the Whole Family Wellbeing investment approach to supporting the provision of preventative, holistic family support and highlighted that he Promise Scotland will report on a national lifelong advocacy service.

With regards to health and wellbeing, there was a continued commitment to the creation of the National Care Service, although question marks remain over the inclusion of Children's services in this new model. There was also an announcement of a new Mental Health & Wellbeing Delivery Plan and a call for health boards to share when they expect to meet CAMHS waiting time standard.

Whilst it is great to see keeping The Promise being on the First Minister's radar, it remains to be seen whether in fact the promise will be delivered. We know great work is being done in the sector and look forward to holding the Government to account to these commitments, and more, as time goes on.