Scotland influencing – children in and leaving care

Many of the children and young people we support in Scotland are being looked after or are care leavers.

We are working to influence the Scottish Government to change the whole care system, to improve experiences and outcomes for all care experienced children and young people.  

Our current policy priorities in this area are:

The Independent Care Review    

We submitted a response to the discovery phase questions of the Independent Care Review from our services.

We also gave all of the children and young people we support the opportunity to answer the review’s questions about what good care looks like and what the Care Review should focus on.

We talked to staff about their understanding of love in the care system and we are now a member of the journey phase subgroup looking at love in the care system.

In our work with the Independent Care Review we aim to:

  • gather evidence on what needs to happen to improve the care system
  • ensure that the children and young people we support are able to participate in the Review’s work and
  • understand how positive change can be implemented through policy and practice.

Continuing Care

The Children and Young People’s Act (Scotland) 2014 brought in an entitlement for Continuing Care up to aged 21.  Having been involved in the development of this legislation, we are aware of the challenges of its implementation.

In 2018, we submitted a consultation response to the Scottish Government which highlighted the major barriers we have seen through our work with young people and carers. These include the need for cultural change, the lack of available evidence, challenges in resourcing young people’s rights, and the need to bring other areas of policy and practice in line with the new legislation.

We also continue to be involved with the work of Scottish Care Leavers Covenant and other stakeholders across the sector to ensure that positive transitions out of care for all looked after young people remain a policy and practice priority.

Care in Mind: Mental Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children and Care Leavers

We are working on a series of reports and resources that aim to draw attention to the particular mental health needs of looked after children and care leavers, and look for practical policy solutions.

Our first report looks at access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. You can read it here:

Care in Mind - Paper 1 - Rejected Referrals - 2019

Our second report looks at the prevision of Health Assessments for looked after children. You can read it here:

Care In Mind - Paper 2 - Health Assessments - 2020

We will be using the experiences of our frontline services and the participation of children and young people themselves to inform all aspects of this work, and will take a ‘whole sector’ approach by looking at what roles agencies, practitioners and policy-makers can play in implementing positive change.

We come from the perspective that everyone has psychological needs that must be met in order for them to thrive.

Looked after children and young people are more likely to have a particular set of needs that require a particular set of responses from the sector.  

Care-experienced young people are not a homogeneous group, and the link between care-experience and mental health needs is not deterministic, but the reality is that children in care and care leavers are more likely to have experienced early adversity including neglect, abuse and loss, and a trauma-informed response is therefore necessary.