Keeping the Promise implementation plan

The Promise implementation plan sets out our actions and commitments to Keep the Promise for care experienced children, young people and their families. It contributes to our ambition for every child in Scotland to grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential.

1. Our Route Map

How the Scottish Government will work to Keep The Promise

Our vision for Scotland is that all of our children grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential. To achieve this we must do all we can to ensure that all of our children grow up in an environment of happiness, love and understanding.

Our communities too must be safe places where children are valued, nurtured, listened to and treated with kindness. We must include and involve our children in decisions about their lives and world, and protect their rights, dignity and wellbeing. Creating the conditions in which all of our children can be healthy and active.

The Promise, tells us why our children enter care and the impact that the present system is having on their lives. It tells us that:

  • the human cost of failure is felt by the person who grows up in the system and it is lifelong;
  • our children often move so many times they do not settle or thrive at school, leaving with few or no qualifications and little prospect of further education or employment;
  • our children who are not appropriately supported struggle to develop social connections, struggle with their mental health, and too often grow up lonely;
  • our children who are not appropriately supported to heal from their trauma, too often turn to drugs and alcohol to help them cope and this can lead to dependency;
  • when our children leave the care system they are too often not ready for adulthood and became homeless;
  • our care experienced children and young people too often get involved in the criminal justice system;
  • our care experienced people too often die much younger than they should.

Our vision for our care experienced children and young people must be no different to our vision for all of our children and young people across Scotland. We know that being care experienced is not something that ends when someone becomes an adult and that's why we must also support the transition to the adult world, and we must recognise that our care experienced people are more likely to need support throughout their lives.

We made a Promise in 2020 to the care community, a promise of transformational change. This will require the Scottish Government to work differently. Our job is to lead the direction of travel, create the conditions for change and ensure that others have what they need to fundamentally shift focus, align resources and adapt structures.

We cannot deliver this change alone. We are committed to building genuine partnerships with Councils, The Promise Scotland, delivery partners, the third sector, and health boards. We may not be able to legislate for love but we can create the conditions in which love and relationships are at the centre of the support we provide and we must all work closely with children young people, adults and families, to ensure we are making the difference needed.

Our Implementation Plan is neither the end of the story, nor the whole of it. We are on a journey to change and only by working together with our partners and with our care community will we Keep The Promise.

What Will The Future Look Like

By 2030, we will have achieved our statutory child poverty targets and significantly reduced the number of children growing up in poverty and the negative outcomes associated with that. We will have a Scotland where families are supported to stay together through whole family support.

We will have significantly reduced the number of children and young people engaged in the care system and our communities will be better supported by the services available to them.

Being care experienced will not be surrounded by stigma. The support available, if required, will be person centred and accessible at a time of need; all transitions will be managed smoothly and the service provided will not be determined by age or geography.

The focus of a child's care will always be based on the child's, rather than the systems, needs and it will be underpinned by love and loving relationships. Not every care experienced person is the same. Not every care experienced person thinks, acts, feels or believes the same. Not every care experienced person wants the same outcomes in their life and not every care experienced person needs the same support.

However, every care experienced person should grow up feeling loved and supported to live a happy and healthy life.

How We Will Work To Achieve This

  • We will consistently embed The Promise across all of our policy,legislation and funding interventions

We acknowledge that in order to play our part to establish the right leadership, commitment and focus on children, young people and families we must be an enabler of change. To do this we will ensure that where barriers are identified we will look for alternative ways to introduce the change required and where we can, remove the barrier.

We recognise that the current system for children and families and the workforce in and around the care system can feel disjointed. We are committed to making the links at a national level of policy, guidance, legislation and funding so that for children, families and the care workforce any interaction with services and the system is and feels connected.

To do this we will continue to embed The Promise across our policies and align our resources to prioritise improving the experience of those in care and preventing our children and young people being taken into care in the first place.

Driven by a central coordinating and enabling team and with regular reporting on progress at senior and Board level we will continue to build on this plan to ensure that Keeping The Promise is firmly in the sight of all that we do.

  • We will build person centred services and continue to recognise that our care experienced children, young people and families are diverse and all have different needs

The Promise tells us that our care experienced people can often feel stigmatised by their peers and communities. Being care experienced is an important part of an individual's life story and it should be the individual's story to tell. It should be understood by others and our response must be respectful and kind.

We are committed to ensuring all our care experienced people are treated equally and that their individual needs are understood. In taking a person centred and rights based approach, we will continue to deliver our Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and seek opportunities to recognise and consider the impact on care experienced people throughout development of our policies.

  • We will do more to hear the voices of our care experienced children,young people,adults and families,making sure they are at the heart of the work we do and the decisions we make, to Keep The Promise

We recognise we must do more to directly engage with our care experienced children, young people, adults and families. The Independent Care Review listened to over 5,500 voices and the First Minister spoke to 1,000 care experienced children and young people over the 3 years of the Review. We are committed to ensuring these voices continue to be listened to and involved in the changes and decisions which affect them.

We are committed to ensuring lived experience and the voice of the care community is at the heart of our approach to policy development and the delivery of services. We are committed to creating a feedback loop as part of our

Governance structures which will ensure that any policy, legislation or funding decision delivers the intended benefits and any unintended consequences are identified and addressed as quickly as possible.

We also acknowledge that any engagement should be meaningful and should be in a way and in a place that is comfortable and safe for the individuals we are engaging with. To achieve this we will fully consider each person's needs when planning any engagement and look to examples of how this has worked well previously, seeking advice from The Promise Scotland and other partners as appropriate.

We must do more to embed the voice and experience of our care experienced people in our governance structures, service design, policy development and funding decisions. To do this we will continue to work with The Promise Scotland, national and local partners and through The Promise Design School to identify and progress engagement at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.

  • We will work with everyone we need to in order to deliver change at national and local level

Keeping The Promise requires a Scotland wide approach. There is cross party support from all political parties to the actions set out by the Independent Care Review and we will continue to build on this broad coalition of support to deliver the change required. We recognise our role and are committed to working at a national and local level with local Government and stakeholders in the public, private and third sector, to ensure processes and systems link up and to achieve this in a meaningful way that is centred around children and families.

We recognise it is not just for Government to take action, and we must continue to work collaboratively to introduce change and to take tough decisions. This will involve implementing new ways of working; capturing and continuing the things that work well; and recognising and acting to stop the things that do not. To do this we will continue to monitor impact and to challenge whether the work we are undertaking is going far enough to bring the change required.

  • As we emerge from the pandemic,we will progress a step change in how we deliver the transformational change demanded by The Promise,and is expected by our children, young people,adults and families.

Over the two years since we made The Promise the challenges of the pandemic have required particular attention. At the same time, the need to improve support to our care experience children, young people, adults and families has not changed and in some cases has become more acute. We need to move forward at pace and in the right way to ensure that we act to improve lives in the way that we must. We are committed to doing this and the timeline set out below provides our initial route map to 2030.

With the change that is needed it is important that we are not afraid to test new and innovative ways of delivery. We will not always get it right the first time, but if we can work together to understand the evidence and use people's experiences to inform and encourage solutions we can deliver the right improvement for the people it is intended for. To do this we will consider, in consultation with The Promise Scotland, the right time, and the right way, to provide an update on our Implementation Plan and our journey to Keep The Promise.

How Will We Know We Have Done It

In recognising that improving outcomes for our children, young people and families requires transformational change we must monitor our impact at a national, local and person centred level. We must also work to understand the experiences and circumstances that lead to these outcomes to ensure that support can be targeted where it is needed, when it is needed.

GIRFEC is our national approach to improving outcomes for babies, children, young people and families. The shared model and language helps us to work across services so that support is well-planned, joined-up and streamlined, helping to prevent or mitigate childhood adversity and trauma. At the more strategic level, Children's Services Planning Partnerships are the main statutory mechanism to plan and deliver local services and supports to improve the wellbeing of our children, young people and families.

We know there are many factors that affect the lives and wellbeing of families in Scotland and we are developing an Outcomes Framework for Children, Young People and Families which will provide a holistic understanding of what we mean by wellbeing, based on what children and families have told us matters, and rooted in GIRFEC and children's rights. Realising, respecting and protecting rights through the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots Law is the foundation for wellbeing and improving outcomes.

The Framework also provides a consistent approach to demonstrate progress in improving outcomes at local and national levels, helping to enhance our understanding of the collective impact from a wide range of policies, services and frontline practice, including the actions set out in this Implementation Plan and our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

At a local level we will work with our public, private and third sector partners to monitor the impact of our policies and interventions. Through the changes that are introduced including testing authorities for possible change, we will embed specific monitoring and evaluation indicators to track the improvements sought. This will be joined up with national monitoring to ensure that experiences of children and their families are reflected and their stories are told, rather than a focus on making their lives fit into existing frameworks.

This is why we must continue to work with and listen to our children and young people to hear if all that The Promise told us was not good has been changed. We must continue to capture the stories of our young care experienced people in the same way that The Promise told us about

Harris, Caitlin and Daniel, James and Olivia and we must not leave it eight years to then ask the same questions again before we know things are different.

However, we heard from the children and families who spoke to the Independent Care Review that they were repeatedly asked to share their most personal and painful experiences only to see that information discarded and their voice not represented in what came next. This will stop. Prior to undertaking any collection of stories, consideration will be given to understanding the existing data collection and experiences people have already shared to ensure that care experienced people are not burdened by our need to know. Where experiences or stories are asked for it will because our processes have been followed and shown that information is not already available to us. Within this, we will always include ways to hear seldom heard voices, such as those of infants, babies, the disabled community and others.

In doing so, we recognise that the approaches to monitoring and evaluation must reflect what matters to children, young people, adults and families:

  • The data we collect will reflect a blended approach: data, information and evidence that includes a strong understanding of experience.
  • The monitoring we undertake must be clear as to its purpose: the provision of actionable insights to drive change, and
  • The indicators we apply must be contextualised within the lives of children and families and reflect what really matters to them

The monitoring framework will track progress but it is equally important that it helps us to drive forward further improvement. Sometimes this will mean we have to listen to things that will be hard to hear and that tell us things are not working. This is critical to ensuring we act as quickly as possible to provide support where it is needed.

Children and their families have and continue to tell us about their experiences through a range of mechanisms. We will continue to listen and work to amplify these voices by joining up these mechanisms in a way that is meaningful, connecting them directly to national monitoring processes to ensure the stories they have to tell can fully inform our understanding of what is working, and what is not.

In establishing The Promise Collective co-chaired with The Promise Scotland we will look to align all Scottish Government funded delivery and improvement initiatives that are working to Keep The Promise. We expect this group to be in place by the end of the Parliamentary year. Further detail on this is set out in Chapter 18.

Key Actions We Will Take

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

We will invest £500 million over the course of this Parliamentary session, beginning with £50 million in financial year 2022-23, in preventative spend through the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund. See Chapter 1

2030 onwards

We have an ambition that at least 5% of all community based health and social care spend will be invested in preventative whole family support measures by 2030. At current levels of investment we estimate that this will mean that by 2030 around £500 million per year will be redirected into preventative activity that will support our families. See Chapter 1 and Chapter 17

Date to be confirmed

We will set a Recommended National Allowance for foster and kinship allowances. See Chapter 1

2022, 2023

We will support local areas to implement the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021. Chapter 2

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

We will take a Whole Family Approach across our key policy areas including: Chapter 2

  • a Whole Family Approach to drug and alcohol services including direct investment of  3.5 million over the next 5 years
  • a Whole Family Approach to children and young people’s mental health including 3 million of funding to Health Boards to support Infant Mental Health

We will work to expand funded early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2, starting with low-income households within this Parliament. Chapter 2


We will publish a 5 year delivery plan to set out how we will build a system of wraparound school age childcare, offering care before and after school and in the holidays, which will be free to families on the lowest incomes. Chapter 2

We will take a holistic approach to learning through the Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland, to be published in May 2022. Chapter 3

We will introduce a Bill by June 2022 to reform the law governing bail decisions and the mechanisms around prison release. Chapter 6

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025

We will implement the Bairns’ Hoose by 2025, bringing together services in a ‘four rooms’ approach with child protection, health, justice and recovery services all made available in one setting. Chapter 6


We will refresh national guidance materials to support consistent effective practice across all children's services including Publication of phase one of refreshed GIRFEC materials by August 2022. Chapter 7

2022, 2023, 2024

We will end the placement of 16 and 17 year olds in Young Offender's Institutions without delay.We will fund care based alternatives to custody and consult on new legislation in Spring 2022. Chapter 8

We will support The Promise Scotland to scope a national lifelong advocacy service for care experienced people and their families. Chapter 9


We will ensure that all care experienced children,wherever they live,will be protected from violence and experience the safeguard of equal protection legislation.In March 2022, we will consult on the need for further appropriate underpinning in legislation or guidance to ensure children's rights are protected in care settings. Chapter 9

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

We will introduce legislation to raise the age at which someone can be referred to the Children's Reporter in this Parliamentary session. Chapter 9

Date to be confirmed

We will invest £10 million per annum through our Care Experience Grant:a new £200 annual grant for 16-25 year olds with care experience. Chapter 10

2022, 2023

We will invest up to £45 million through the Young Person's Guarantee to support better outcomes for young people in financial year 22/23. Chapter 10

We will continue to implement the 'Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways' report and the Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway by investing £50m in the next phase of work to end homelessness and rough sleeping. Chapter 10

Date to be confirmed

We will work with The Promise Scotland to build an evidence base to understand the best governance, financial arrangements and models of care to assess how we can best Keep The Promise. Chapter 11

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025

We will consider establishing a National Social Work Agency to support the workforce and ensure equality of service and support. Chapter 11 Chapter 14

2022, 2023, 2024

We will collaborate with The Promise Scotland to scope a new, holistic framework for governance and accountability. Chapter 11

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

We will take forward a redesign of the Children's Hearings System, building on the recommendations from the review led by Sheriff Mackie, with the aim to bring forward any required legislation by the end of the Parliamentary session. Chapter 11

We will support The Promise Scotland to develop a blueprint for the creation and control of,and access to,information about care experienced people which will empower people to decide who and when key information about them is made available. Chapter 13

Date to be confirmed

We will implement a national values-based recruitment and workforce development framework in place and adhered to by all organisations and professions involved in supporting children and their families. Chapter 14

2022, 2023

We will, by April 2023, publish a long-term delivery plan for further work to embed and sustain trauma-informed workforces and services. Chapter 15


We will, by the end of 2022, roll out a trauma skilled learning programme focused on the needs of workforce involved in the lives of babies, children and young people with care experience. Chapter 15

2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

We will introduce a Promise Bill to make any further legislative changes required to Keep The Promise by the end of this Parliamentary session. Chapter 16

Date to be confirmed

We will undertake a review of the legislative framework relating to the care system in Scotland. Chapter 16


We will explore the opportunity to undertake a social outcomes funding approach over the coming months with an aim to introduce a social outcomes programme that will work in compliment to the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund. Chapter 17

We will establish The Promise Collective co-chaired with The Promise Scotland to support alignment and cohesion of activities. Chapter 18



Back to top