It is a pleasure to present the second statutory Corporate Parenting Report since the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act was introduced in 2014.
There is no doubt that this has been a difficult and challenging period both for corporate parents and the community that they support. Since 2020, in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children and young people, and a disproportionate impact on those who experience disadvantage. Corporate parents have continued to work throughout a global pandemic, many on the front line, to provide vital and often immediate support to our children and young people in need of care and protection – these efforts have not gone unnoticed and the Scottish Government extends its gratitude for the support provided.
Since 2014, corporate parents have worked hard to improve the way in which we look after children in our care. The Scottish Government is, of course, a corporate parent itself and ensuring those with care experience have the best opportunities possible continues to be a priority for this Government with the work of the Independent Care Review having been critical in shaping how this will look as we move forward collectively.
The Independent Care Review completed its work during this reporting period and its conclusions, articulated in The Promise, set out the transformational change required by 2030. The Promise makes clear what it is Scotland must do to make sure our children feel loved, safe and have the childhood they deserve. It is our job now, collectively as a nation but also collectively as corporate parents to collaborate with each other, in achieving that transformational change. This change will not be about making changes to the ‘care system’ as we know it, but going much further by supporting families much earlier and much more impactfully so that they can stay together and thrive, where that is appropriate. Transformational change of this nature will have its challenges, I have no doubt. Key to achieving this ambition, though, will be partnership working throughout Scotland across all agencies and at all levels. Critically, children and families – and crucially lived experience – must be at the heart of all of our work to ensure that the legislation, policies and practice we deliver are meaningful, accessible and impactful.
The Promise has clearly set out the issues which directly and indirectly impact children and young people with care experience and their families and carers. The Scottish Government is committed to addressing the inequalities in our society which affect children’s and families’ ability to thrive, by taking action on child poverty, housing, employment, education, health and mental health and wellbeing, welfare and children’s rights. This reports sets out in more detail the activity the Scottish Government has undertaken over the reporting period as well as more recent developments announced through the Programme for Government 2021. Through our work to reform public services, including the proposed creation of a National Care Service and to #KeepThePromise, it is vital that we all work beyond traditional policy or service delivery silos, and focus on the collective needs and priorities of children and young people with care experience and their families.
This report highlights some excellent practice, shines a light on collaboration at its best and identifies areas where we can learn from the experience to date. We are entering a significant new phase of work on corporate parenting as plans are refreshed and we consider our commitments ahead in terms of offering the opportunity to look afresh at how we can better support children and young people with care experience, with a clear focus on how Scotland will #KeepThePromise, while also recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the next three-year reporting period, I look forward to working together with other corporate parents and with children and young people in delivering the priorities identified in The Promise Plan 2021-24 and Change Programme ONE, and the wider transformational change needed to #KeepThePromise.
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