Today (5 February) the Independent Care Review in Scotland has published its final reports. The reports are the result of three years of extensive consultation with over 5,500 people along with careful mapping of the care system, reviews of relevant laws, rules, data, and research, and commissioning of research to fill the gaps. More than half of the people with whom the Care Review consulted were children, young people, and adults who have lived in care; the rest were families and workers, both paid and unpaid. The review was chaired by Fiona Duncan, CEO of the Corra Foundation, and followed a series of stages to ensure that children’s and young people’s experiences were at the very heart of the review.

The Orientation phase focussed on developing a plan for the review and ensuring that children and young people would have numerous and diverse opportunities to make their voices heard. This phase also involved an initial mapping of the information and data on the care system that currently exists.

In the Discovery phase, the Care Review met with and listened to people across Scotland. Based on these conversations, the Review’s Discovery Group mapped out the care system, with emphasis on the feelings and experiences of those living and working within that system. The Discovery Group consisted of 12 individuals who were nominated by their peers, 6 of whom have lived experience of the care system. The Group produced 12 ‘intentions’ for the best possible care system, which were then peer-reviewed by the care community.

The Journey phase saw the creation of 10 working groups which honed in on the specific areas that matter most to children and their experiences, including Love, Stigma, Health and Wellbeing, and Workforce. These groups focussed on producing recommendations for far-reaching and long-lasting change. This phase also involved working with local authorities and voluntary organisations to implement change more quickly where possible.

The final phase, which we have entered with the publication of the Review’s five reports, is Destination. The reports present a clear vision for how children and young people who experience care in Scotland should grow up, and the Care Review’s goal now is to see that vision implemented.

The reports are:

  • The Promise, which sets out the five Foundations of Scotland’s Ambition for the care system: ‘We grow up loved, safe, and respected so that we realise our full potential.’ These Foundations are Voice, Family, Care, People, and Scaffolding. There is also a Pinky Promise report for children.

  • The Plan, which calls for ‘a seamless transition out of the Care Review into The Plan [which] will maintain momentum and capitalise on the commitment to, and enthusiasm for, change.’ The Plan does not yet exist – it will require ‘all sectors across the roots and branches of the entire ‘care system’ including the multiple agencies that commission and operate it’ to come together and create a plan for change in line with local and national priorities. Children and young people must continue to be at the heart of The Plan.

  • The Money and Follow the Money, which investigate the costs of both the care system and the failures of the care system, whilst being very clear that ‘the costs borne by care experienced children and adults themselves (costs which are often intangible and sometimes even impossible to measure) are the most significant costs of the system.’ These reports call for a fundamental shift in the way that Scotland thinks about investing in children and young people.

  • The Rules, which maps the labyrinthine legislative and regulatory framework for the care system, identifies gaps and redundancies, and calls for The Plan to develop ‘a new set of Rules that work for children, young people and their families across all Five Foundations of The Promise and reflect their lives, not the systems priorities.’

There is much to learn from the Care Review, not least the fundamental importance that it has placed on children’s and young people’s voices and lived experiences at every stage.

We look forward to seeing the Review evolve into the Plan and begin to deliver a care system for Scottish children that allows them grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential.

#KeepThePromise