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.

Keeping Families Together Through Whole Family Support And Support for Our Care Experienced Children, Young People and Adults

Our overarching ambition is to keep families together where that is safe and to provide the support that is needed to enable this to happen. This approach is aligned with the ambitions of our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-26 as resilient family units with the right support are more likely to lead to the reduction in child poverty. It is also critical to our success as a nation that as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we make sure that we build a system that prevents crisis in the lives of children and families and takes care of and loves those children who must be cared for by the state.

These actions are underpinned by our national approach to improving outcomes for children and young people, Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC). We recognise a child and young person's individual growth and development is experienced in the context of their networks of family and care, local communities, and the influences of wider society.

We know that early experiences, including pre-birth, are critical to determining wellbeing throughout childhood and into adult life, with recognition of the importance of preventing adverse experiences, and availability of relationship-based and trauma-informed approaches. We know that the improved outcomes we can achieve for those children who are diverted from the care system include better educational attainment, better health and reduced likelihood of homelessness, substance misuse, mental health and offending behaviour.

In this section we will set out our cross Government approach to how we will progress our ambition to keep families together.

Cumulatively the aim of these actions is to dramatically reduce the number of children that require to be brought into the formal care system by providing the right support, including through our universal services for education, health and employment.

Chapter 1 Investing In Whole Family Support

We must recognise the network around our children and young people. This includes recognising and accepting individual definitions of who is 'family' and the bond that may exist with extended family and close friends.

Providing quality holistic whole family support means tailored, multi-disciplinary support which builds on the strengths of the family, and is available as soon as it is needed, for as long as it is needed. We have worked with stakeholders to agree national principles for holistic family support and a vision and route map to support delivery.

We now need to support whole system change across the country to make our vision a reality.

This vision for holistic family support recognises the importance of wrapping services around families to ensure that the support is tailored to their needs, relationship based, and builds on the strengths of the families. It also recognises that families should experience those services as seamless – so both adult and children's services come together to design and deliver support structures which are flexible and take into account the individual needs of each family.

The Promise[5] tells us that every year, Scotland invests £942 million in the care system and the universal services which can be associated with care cost a further £198 million per annum.

Improving how we provide a scaffolding of support to families will improve outcomes for those children and young people who need that support, across health, education and employment.

We know that families in which a child enters the care system in the first 12 months of life, are more likely to be already known to services prior to the child's birth. There is a significant opportunity for universal health services to break these cycles of poor outcomes and support families to stay together.

In addition our care experienced adults often require services to support them with the impacts of their negative life experiences and this is estimated to cost around £875 million per annum. Preventative spend is key to ensuring that children achieve positive outcomes which are beneficial to them, their families and the wider economy and reduce the negative impact later in life. Only through policy and financial alignment will we shift the balance of investment in families from crisis management towards prevention

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change

Realigning Spend

We recognise that to make a major shift in the way the care system operates we need to make a major investment in preventative action. We cannot simply transfer resources away from the current system as this system is supporting people now that have experienced the systemic problems that Keeping The Promise seeks to prevent.

To ensure that this fundamental shift in spending is sustained, we have set 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.

Investing in Whole Family Support

As we progress towards this preventative ambition, it is important to ensure that we are providing the right kind of support to families to enable them to thrive and stay together. To assist this, we are investing at least £500 million in the Whole Family Wellbeing Funding over the course of this Parliament, to help transform services that support families, ensuring families can access the support they need, where and when they need it.

The overarching aim of the Fund is not to fund business as usual activity, but to support the transition of local investment from crisis intervention to prevention. This significant investment will support the system change necessary at a local level to ensure that family support is seamless and wraps around the needs of the whole family.

In financial year 2022/23 we will invest the initial £50 million of this funding to:

  • Help local areas to shape and scale up services and approaches which are already effectively wrapping around the needs of families using a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach.
  • Deliver support to service planners, leaders and other staff to transform their existing systems, helping to bridge the shift from crisis intervention to preventive support.
  • Provide support for national activity that is needed to drive and support these changes.

The first year of funding aims to build the capacity needed to make the most of the further £450 million investment which will be made over the remaining three years of this Parliament. This investment is an important part of changing how we deliver services. It will also support our commitment to tackle child poverty through providing support tailored to the needs of the family, including employability support where that is needed.

We are currently in detailed discussion with COSLA and other stakeholders about how this funding will be delivered and we will make an announcement in May 2022. We are also considering the best profile for the remaining £450 million of the fund and will announce this following the forthcoming Resource Spending Review.

Alongside the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund, we will work in collaboration with Children's Service Planning Partnerships and other delivery partners to develop and deliver a programme of activity to improve holistic whole family support through universal and targeted approaches, including:

  • Supporting the spread and scale up of good practice already underway in local areas
  • Support for local areas to take a whole system approach to transforming the way that support is provided.
  • Collective work to improve commissioning and procurement of family support services, including improving the involvement of children and families in service design and specifications.
  • Developing a practical toolkit of support for local areas to ensure consistent standards and evaluation of support within a framework of core national principles.

The Promise Partnership Fund

The Scottish Government has committed £4 million per year for The Promise Partnership Fund which launched in 2021. This was established to help organisations with early intervention and to deliver changes to better support children, young people and families in or on the edges of care. Funding is confirmed until 2024-25 and to date, over 70 organisations have benefitted.

The Promise Partnership offers support to organisations and collaborations to help drive forward the change that matters. People with care experience are involved in the decisions on where the funding is allocated through their involvement in The Promise Partnership Advisory Group that oversees how the money is spent.


Circle is a Scottish charity working at the heart of deprived communities across central Scotland. Their aim is to support the most disadvantaged children and families to improve their lives, promote their healthy development and reach their potential.

Circle offers a range of whole family support services that promote children's healthy development and potential. They engage with families who face exclusion due to social injustice, poverty and health inequalities.

  • families affected by drug and alcohol
  • families affected by imprisonment
  • pregnancy and early years
  • Fathers' support
  • Children and young people

Circle have been funded through The Promise Partnership Fund to increase participation with children, young people and families on the edges of care and provides support to exploring the SHANARRI indicators with children affected by domestic abuse.

A specific example of this work was 'chats with the boys' where a Caledonian worker supported a family of mum, dad and 2 boys using wellbeing indicators to understand if the boys understand being safe and inviting them to express their emotions and experiences through pictures. By using images and the wellbeing indicators the boys were able to explain some situations were like a 'rollercoaster' and talked about a cyber-security incident. The boys were able to explain what made them feel safe and that being at the park made them feel more calm.

Support For Caregivers

Carers of children and young people have clearly told us that they need equitable and consistent financial support to ensure that they can provide a stable, positive and happy experience for their family. In support of this, we are committed to work with our partners to introduce a Scottish Recommended National Allowance to those in kinship and fostering households. This investment will mean that no matter which area of Scotland children are living in, their caregivers will receive at least the Scottish Recommended Allowance to care for them.

The Kinship Care Collaborative has been established with key stakeholders to improve outcomes for children and young people and to better support kinship carers and the professionals who work with kinship families. The aim is to deliver both national and local improvement and the agreed priorities for the Collaborative are:

  • Reviewing kinship care legislation and guidance;
  • Identification of resources and gaps with a view to eliminate any gaps;
  • Improving consistency of service provision across Scotland;
  • Establishing clear and universal understanding of definitions within legislation;
  • Identification of good practice;
  • Ensuring kinship care is visible within communities and promoting this.

As well as building on our work through the Kinship Care Collaborative, we are developing our policy to support those in fostering, adoptive and residential families.

Supporting The Costs of Living

The Promise tells us that our care experienced adults are over one and a half times more likely to experience severe multiple disadvantage.

Recognising the impact of poverty on the outcomes for our children, young people and families, we are making £225 million available in the year ahead to support the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment, to £20 per week per child from April, and then further increasing the payment to £25 per week per child by the end of 2022. This will immediately benefit 104,000 children under the age of six will benefit immediately from April, and ahead of the full roll out of the payment to all eligible children under the age of sixteen, we are also continuing to deliver Bridging Payments worth £520 this year for as many school age children as possible.

We have recently consulted on a draft plan on ending the need for food banks. This reaffirms a human rights approach to the issue of food insecurity, placing an emphasis on preventing poverty so that families have the means to access food that meets their needs and preferences without having to compromise on other essentials.

A final plan will be published in Spring 2022 and will outline a package of further practical actions to strengthen the availability of cash- first support in order to make food aid the last port of call. The cash-first model will prioritise access to the Scottish Welfare Fund as well as other discretionary income supports, alongside money advice and wider wellbeing support to help prevent future need.

Healthy eating too is key to good health outcomes and early years funding is targeted at 'risk' families, aimed at encouraging and reinforcing good nutrition, healthy eating habits and physical activity for children aged 0-5 years continues to be provided to support projects including:

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are piloting a whole system, community food nurturing programme with families of pre-school children combining action on food insecurity, healthy eating and physical activity in three Glasgow neighbourhoods.

  • NHS Lothian are piloting an evidence based training package (HENRY) with family workers/ early learning childcare practitioners, across the 4 local authority areas. These settings were chosen by the working group, focused on areas within the 4 localities with highest deprivation.

We know that by addressing the generic and structural challenges associated with living somewhere, including in our rural and island communities where the costs of living are higher, will help to address and alleviate poverty. An example of tailored support that can assist with living costs includes Discretionary Housing Payments for which care experienced young people, or their families, finding it difficult to meet their housing costs, may apply to their Local Authority. These can be awarded to provide help with housing costs for those on Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit.

Access to Financial Advice

We know that access to the right advice can lead to income maximisation, lower bills, access to employment opportunities and housing support, in addition to often wider wellbeing support. We know also that being able to access the advice in settings where people are comfortable doing so will increase the number of people being able to benefit from the advice.

To support this we will invest £10 million over the term of this Parliament to increase access to advice services in accessible settings to maximise incomes, tackle the poverty penalty and improve wellbeing. We have already begun this work by expanding Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships, placing money advisors in up to 150 GP practices in some of Scotland's most deprived areas.

We plan to expand this to other health settings and community hubs and to expand on pilot local partnership approaches providing advice in education settings giving people the opportunity to access holistic advice in a place they are comfortable visiting. We will seek to ensure that this work is targeted to the priority families and where possible linked in to wider family support work expanding on pilot work, sharing and spreading good practice. Providing funding to support partnership working and transformation of delivery, ensuring the service is holistic and meets people's needs.

We will also simplify our financial advice services funding streams, including funding for Citizens Advice Scotland, to enable a focus on outcomes rather than inputs, delivering joined up advice and support combining income maximisation and reducing household costs. This builds on the success of the Money Talk Team service, an investment of £5.4 million so far that has resulted in putting almost £42 million into the pockets of more than 19,600 people, including nearly £12 million in financial gains for over 3,300 low income families.

Since 2016, the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention & Adult Learning & Empowering Communities Fund (CYPFEI & ALEC Fund) has provided up to £16 million of vital support each year to around 120 third sector organisations, helping thousands of children, families and communities across Scotland. From April 2023 we will be introducing a new third sector fund which will replace the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund. This fund will also provide up to £16 million for each of the next two financial years (2022/23 and 2023/24) in funding for third sector organisations supporting organisations who work with children and families to ensure that sustained, high quality support is available. We have embedded The Promise as one of the main focuses and key policy priorities within this Fund by way of supporting organisations who are providing services to care experienced young people and their families.

Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan

The Second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, 2022-2026 was published in March 2022. The plan outlines the transformational actions Scotland will take alongside our delivery partners to tackle child poverty.

The plan focusses on impacting the three drivers of tackling child poverty: supporting families to increase their income from employment; reduce their household costs; and increase their income from social security and benefits in kind.

Underpinning these actions is a focus on provision of wrap around holistic person centred support to families – providing the right support at the right time – with a focus on the 6 priority families types most at risk of child poverty. By using a pathfinder approach, working locally with all partners to identify and overcome barriers to delivering effective child poverty interventions, we will enable our partners across the public, private and third sector to align services to make them work for people who need it most.

Tackling child poverty and Keeping The Promise are two interconnected commitments – both require a system change, and a partnership approach to getting services to work better together to deliver outcomes for children and their families. The Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022-2026 sets out an approach to local integration that aims to improve outcomes for families, informs local Children's Services Planning and should be a central part of Keeping The Promise.

In implementing the Plan we will take a place based approach, we will work with a wide range of partners to identify barriers to tackling child poverty and test ways of overcoming these barriers.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • 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.
  • 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. This will deliver transformational change and service re-design in the delivery of whole family support. It will enable the building of universal, holistic support services, available in communities across Scotland, giving families access to the help they need, where and when they need it.
    • We will continue to support early intervention through investing in The Promise Partnership Fund until 2024-25 ensuring alignment with the Whole Family Wellbeing Fund
    • We will continue to ensure alignment to our Tackling Child Poverty goals and that this transformational change delivers the person centred family support needed to tackle child poverty
  • We will set a Recommended National Allowance for foster and kinship allowances. This investment will mean that no matter which area of Scotland children are living in, their caregivers will receive at least the Scottish Recommended Allowance to care for them.
  • We will support family wellbeing by supporting the costs of living and ensuring access to advice for those who need it,including:
    • We are making £197 million available in the year ahead to support the doubling of the Scottish Child Payment, to £20 per week per child from April and will further increase it to £25 by the end of 2022 when the roll out to 6-15 year olds takes place
    • We will publish our plan setting out how we will end the need for foodbanks, in Spring 2022
    • We will continue to provide help with housing costs for those most in need through the Discretionary Housing Payment and will put in place measures to mitigate the UK Governments benefit cap as fully as we can within the scope of devolved powers
    • We will invest £10 million over the Parliament to increase access to advice services in accessible settings through Welfare Advice and Health Partnerships, other health settings and community hubs and education settings giving people the opportunity to access holistic advice in a place they are comfortable visiting

Chapter 2 Supporting Families To Stay Together Where That Is Safe

In adopting a holistic approach to change we understand that we must adopt a person centred approach. In our commitment to support our families we must ensure that our intervention in people's lives respects the relationships and networks that matter to them. This may include families of origin, kinship, foster and adoptive families. Our systems of support must not be directed by the setting of care but the people and the connections that matter to the child.

In adopting a preventative approach, removing the risk of engagement with our care services must be at the heart of our actions. Where engagement with services is necessary it should be a positive experience. It should be focussed on the needs of those it is there to support and its fundamental aim must be to help families to stay together where it is safe for them to do so.

In this regard the services and support networks that we provide must:

  • Support our children, young people, adults and families who are care experienced, recognising that experience of care has an effect on people throughout their lives;
  • Support our children, young people, adults and families who we know are at risk of being taken into care, recognising that the right support at the right times will help keep families together and avoid the need for care;
  • Support all of our children, young people, adults and families, recognising that if we get the services that everyone uses right then the level of engagement with the care system will be reduced.

The role of local Children's Services Planning Partnerships are key to collaborative and cross boundary approaches to improve outcomes for all children, young people and families, and for those with particular needs such as our care experienced people. These partnerships have a fundamental role in the delivery of whole family wellbeing support.

Providing wrap around person centred support means adopting a No Wrong Door approach. A non-stigmatising experience that is seamless and relationship based rather than families being referred on to different services. This will look different in each area of support, and is about how services join up behind the scenes and adopt a culture of taking a whole family approach to their interaction with every person. In some cases this will look and feel like a lead professional drawing in a multi-disciplinary team (for example, education, addiction, mental health, housing, social security or justice specialists) to work with a child and their family to respond to the particular needs of the family, whatever they are for as long as they need it.

The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021, underlines the importance of assessing the impact of all structural factors including poverty and poor housing as part of all care and protection planning, supporting more holistic approaches that reduce stressors in families and communities to help reduce the risk of harm to children. We will support local areas to implement the National Guidance and implement practice that places children and young people's experience, needs, wishes and feelings at the centre of decision making, builds on strengths as a well as addressing risk and focuses on working in partnership with families and communities.

This will achieve a necessary shift that supports the least intrusive and most supportive levels of intervention at all stages.

This is of course not just an urban issue and understanding the rural and island dimension of The Promise is very important. The needs of our care experienced people in these communities may not be as well understood as they are in more urban settings. This calls for a set of distinct actions to support the rural dimension and we will continue to work with NHS Boards, local authorities and Health and Social Care

Partnerships to ensure that there is fair, accessible health and social care for those on islands, as set out in our National Islands Plan (2019). We will also continue to identify and promote good practice to enable the improvement of services in rural Scotland and across Scotland's islands.

Understanding Trauma

As The Promise emphasises, babies, children and young people need loving, supportive, nurturing and safe relationships to thrive. Adverse and traumatic experiences in childhood can impact on children's healthy development and their learning, and this can have long lasting negative consequences into adulthood.

Over recent years there has been increasing awareness of the evidence about the impacts of trauma and adversity, including studies that have informed us more about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). There is also increasing understanding about the importance of relationships, positive childhood experiences, and trauma-informed approaches for supporting resilience and recovery. Negative long term impacts are not inevitable. Many children and young people who experience adversity and trauma will recover, drawing on their own resources and support from others.

The Promise highlights ways in which adverse and traumatic experiences also result from the way that systems and services operate. For example, it heard from children and young people about the trauma of being taken into and growing up in the care system, including experiences of being separated from siblings and moving homes several times. In addition, it detailed experiences of trauma being exacerbated by having to tell and retell experiences or punishment for challenging behaviour, rather than support for trauma.

Multiple factors play important roles in determining how children and young people react to adverse experiences, including the type and severity of the event(s), their existing attachment to trusted adults, and the wider systems and support available. Economic and social conditions influence the level of trauma experienced and capacity for recovery.

Poverty is a significant contributor to stress and potential to develop harmful coping mechanisms, and can increase the risk of abuse and neglect. We know that a disproportionate number of our care experienced families live in our poorest and most disadvantaged areas and we also know that there is a clear trend in the rates of children subject to formal child welfare interventions (such as child protection registration, criminal or children's hearings proceedings, or becoming looked after) with children in the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods being 20 times more likely to be subject to these interventions than those living in the least deprived. It is important therefore that the package of support that is in place to help ensure families stay together is holistic and recognises the health, financial, place and mental health challenges that face our care experienced people. Implementing our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan has a crucial part to play in this, supporting families to increase their incomes and exit poverty.

Our commitment to prevent and mitigate ACEs and childhood trauma is critically inter-related with the wide range of actions underway on children's rights, the national GIRFEC approach, delivery of holistic family support and children's health, wellbeing and learning. In turn a trauma- informed approach across all of these actions is crucial and we are working to embed knowledge and understanding of trauma across workforces, services, organisations and systems.

Taking a holistic approach to whole family support will play a key part in reducing the trauma experienced in the lives of our children and young people. Understanding the evidence about the impact that childhood trauma can have sets the context for a number of the initiatives and actions set out in this and the following chapters. Further detail on specific actions that we will take to further progress trauma informed care are set out in Chapter 15.

Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences

The terms 'trauma' or 'psychological trauma' refer to a wide-range of traumatic, abusive or neglectful events or series of events that are experienced as being emotionally or physically harmful or life threatening by children or adults and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional or spiritual wellbeing. Essentially, psychological trauma is understood in terms of the 3 E's: the event, how it is experienced, and its effects.

The term 'adverse childhood experiences' (ACEs) was originally developed from a survey carried out in the US in the 1990s which found a relationship between adverse experiences in childhood and later health and wellbeing in adulthood. Not all ACEs cause trauma. Trauma occurs when a child experiences this adversity as extremely harmful or threatening.

Sometimes the term 'ACEs' is used to refer to a particular sub-set of experiences commonly measured in ACE surveys, however others use the term to refer to a broad range of adverse experiences. The Scottish Government use the term 'ACEs' broadly and interchangeably with 'adversity' to refer to the wide range of adverse experiences which can negatively impact on children's healthy development; including the experiences commonly included in ACE population surveys, as well as many other experiences (e.g. bullying, bereavement, coercive control, homelessness and community violence).

It is important to emphasise that while ACEs and childhood trauma can increase risks of poorer health and wellbeing, this is not inevitable. Support and trusted relationships are crucial for enabling children and young people to feel connected and to recover.

What The Scottish Government

Whole Family Approach to Drug and Alcohol Support

There is significant research that demonstrates the pervasive impact and relationship between substance use, mental health difficulties, domestic abuse and likelihood of children being removed from the care of their parents. Families experiencing these issues must be supported with flexible, creative services and relationships. This is emphasised further by The Promise which tells us that our care experienced children and young people are almost twice as likely to moderately use dependency at age 16.

Protecting children and young people from the negative effects of dependency will help create better conditions for them to realise their full potential. Alcohol or drug dependency impacts on the individual, their family and friends. Actions to ensure access to the best treatment and support for problem substance use will prevent some of the harm it subsequently causes to our children and the relationships within our families.

Through our whole family approach to drug and alcohol services we will take an inclusive approach to support anyone who has been harmed by a loved one's drug or alcohol use (including children, young people and adults). We will ensure better health and positive employment outcomes for parents, carers and guardians and by reducing consumption and alcohol dependency in Scotland we will help to create more resilient, cohesive and successful communities.

Our framework Improving Holistic Family Support: Towards a Whole Family Approach and Family Inclusive Practice in Drug and Alcohol Services published in December 2021, provides a definition of the Whole Family Approach and Family Inclusive Practice in order to help shape, develop and/or redesign services at the local and national level.

Focusing on the issues specifically faced by families affected by drug or alcohol use, this Framework directly recognises the importance of keeping families together and the role this can play in Keeping The Promise.

National Family Residential Rehabilitation Service

Last year the Minister for Drugs Policy announced that Phoenix Futures had been successful in their application to the National Drugs Mission Recovery Fund for funding of almost £9 million over five years.

This funding will support the establishment of a new national specialist family service for women to access residential rehabilitation for their drug or alcohol problem alongside their children. This is based on an existing facility run by the organisation in Sheffield, and will offer a family focused programme of intervention for up to 20 families at any one time.

Phoenix Futures aim to open the National Family Service in Summer 2022 and this unique programme of interventions will benefit each member of the family and the family unit as a whole.

Our whole family approach to drug and alcohol services is supported by Scottish Government annual investment of £3.5 million over the next 5 years. Additional funding such as the £3 million Children and Families Fund administered through the Corra Foundation, is in place to improve support for children, young people and families impacted by drug use, and ensure all children, young people and families have access to services.

Whole Family Approach to Children& Young People's Mental Health

The mental health of our children, young people and their families is at the fore of our thinking as we transition and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights is crucial, both in terms of how we support good mental wellbeing, and how we provide the right help and support.

The Promise heard directly from young people who were detained for lengthy periods under the age of 18 in hospital settings through mental health legislation. In some cases, that detention went on for many years. The Promise is clear that Scotland must ensure that there is timely access to mental health support before crisis point, and this principle is key to our programme of work to improve child and adolescent mental health and wellbeing services.

The Children and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing Joint Delivery Board is our mechanism for overseeing the cohesive and equitable approach to mental health for all children across Scotland that is required. The

Board is overseeing a set of reforms designed to ensure children and young people receive the support they need when they need it, including:

  • an additional £15 million to local authorities to fund over 230 new and enhanced supports and services for children and young people aged 5-24 in the communities; and an additional £15 million will be provided in 2022/23 to fund the continuation of these services.
  • ensuring crisis support is available 24/7 to children and young people, filling any gaps that exist in telephone and text crisis services for 5-24 year olds their families and carers.
  • supporting mental health pathways and services for vulnerable children and young people. Aligned to the work of The Promise, these pathways will ensure that support is available and accessible to those who need it, at the right time. This will also work to ensure there are no gaps in provision of mental health support.
  • a further £120 million of funding through the Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund to transform services, with a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention, including£40 million to ensure Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are available, responsive, effective and equitable,
  • work with Children's Services Planning Partnerships in support of their key role in leading whole systems delivery of localservices and supports aimed at improving mental health and mental wellbeing outcomes for children, young people and families.
  • joint work to support mental health in schools digital resource, school and further and higher education counselling services and whole school approaches to mental health, to continue to address the spectrum of mental health and wellbeing needs set out in the Mental Health COVID Transition and Recovery Plan.

Infant Mental Health

Infant mental health refers to the social and emotional development of a child from birth to age three years. This includes their capacity to express and regulate their emotions, begin to form relationships, and explore their environment.

We know that looking after the health and wellbeing of new parents is vitally important both for them and their children and can contribute to breaking the cycle of poor outcomes from early mental health adversity. The importance of a trusting, secure and reliable relationship with parents or main caregivers is very important in development.

Infants can recognise these qualities from an early age through the way they are held, talked to, touched, and cared for. These early interactions during the first weeks, months and years of life are very important and prepare the way for strong, healthy social and emotional health and wellbeing throughout a person's life.

Our Perinatal and Infant Mental HealthProgramme Board 2020-2021, has set out its commitment to Keep The Promise by ensuring its work is:

  • informed by lived experience at a strategic and operational level with family members being meaningfully involved in decision-making
  • supports positive relationships within families and creating opportunities for positive relationships where it is not possible for children to stay with their families
  • actively supports the development of relationships within families and with the community and professional systems involved, who in turn must be supported to listen and be compassionate in their decision making and care
  • is accompanied by responsive help, support and accountability to enable support to be accessed and utilised to its fullest potential

We are also working through our Infant Mental Health Implementation and Advisory Group to develop a model of infant mental health provision across Scotland to meet the needs of families experiencing significant adversity, including infant developmental difficulties, perinatal mental illness, parental substance misuse, domestic abuse and trauma. The rights of all infants are at the heart of this work, but it is rooted within the context of The Promise and seeks to ensure that infants' mental health and relationship needs are recognised and respected across all the different circumstances experienced by families.

Infant Mental Health services

We are currently rolling out Infant Mental Health services across Scotland and each Health Board now has an Executive Lead responsible for the delivery of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health services.We have committed £3 million of funding per annum to continue the roll out of existing and developing infant mental health provision, and to embed infant mental health focused work in Health Boards.

The vision for the roll out of services in Scotland is for parents and carers to feel supported to build positive relationships with their babies.

Service development is ongoing with the aim of building provision where concerns may be identified, offering early intervention, with universal service providers being able to access specialist services via clear care pathways so that babies and their families receive the right care at the right time from universal, and if necessary, specialist services.

We have developed a suite of Infant Mental Health focused content on the Parent Clubwebsite on a set of pages called Wellbeing for Wee Ones. This resource recognises the pressure that having a baby or toddler brings and provides support and advice on dealing with a number of things including sleepless nights, feeding and keeping them warm and comfortable. In addition, the resource informs parents and carers that it's never too early to start supporting their baby's emotional wellbeing, and that even little things that they can do as part of their normal routine can make a big impact.

The need for this focus to continue as children grow is of course important. We will continue to work with partners to consider what support is currently available and to set out recommendations for what is required in the future to support the mental health and wellbeing of 3 to 5 year olds across Scotland.

From a whole population perspective, we have made the Solihull Online programmes accessible to every parent across Scotland, providing evidence based information on relationships and child development all the way through to 18 years. This provides parents, carers and practitioners with insights on attachment, relationships and emotional wellbeing

Supporting Disabled Children and Young People

Bringing up, and caring for, a disabled child can and should be a positive and rewarding experience. It is critical that disabled children are provided with the right support to achieve their full potential, and that their families are supported at an early stage to enable them to cope with the stresses and demands of their caring role, and to look after their own health and wellbeing.

Self-directed support describes the mainstream approach by which all social care must be delivered in Scotland. It aims to give families more choice and control over the support they receive, and is grounded in the human rights principles of autonomy, self-determination, dignity and respect.

By giving families greater choice and control over their support, the self-directed approach is designed to ensure that what matters to the child is central to every decision made.

In March 2021 we published a framework of standards to ensure consistency of outcomes and approaches in self-directed support practice across Scotland. We are also currently reviewing the statutory guidance which accompanies the Social Care (Self-directed Support) (Scotland) Act

2013 in order to reflect learning and developments since the legislation was introduced and to ensure services are delivered flexibly in a way that reflects the specific situations of everyone who receives SDS.

Keeping Our Children Safe

As part of our focus on keeping families together and keeping our children within the network that they know and love, it is of vital importance that we continue to place the needs of our children first. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) requires a clear unified approach to protecting children from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and supporting parents, families and carers.

Scotland's approach to supporting and protecting children is consistent with this principle: being increasingly rooted in accessible and responsive universal services and a holistic, proportionate approach to statutory intervention which acknowledges that the creative expertise of the third sector will often be key to reducing risk without stigmatising families.

We recently updated the National Guidancefor Child Protection in Scotland. The Guidance outlines the continuum of support for all children, from universal support through to protection from significant harm, underlining that the wellbeing and safety of children are indivisibly connected.

There is a clear articulation of the importance of GIRFEC to protecting children, particularly in recognising that all children must receive the right help at the right time.

Whilst the Guidance is aligned with the current context in which practitioners are working, it is also consistent with the ambitions of The Promise and anticipates and prepares for the changes in the years ahead. This includes a greater emphasis on ensuring that a child's views are taken into account in all decision-making that affects them and supporting practice that recognises and builds on strengths as a well as addressing risk by working in partnership with families and communities. This is a necessary shift in practice that supports the least intrusive and most supportive levels of intervention at all stages.

Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC)

Preventing and responding early to adversity and trauma is central to our long-standing, national approach of Getting it right for every child. GIRFEC provides a consistent and shared way for everyone who works with children, young people and their parents to identify and meet wellbeing and developmental needs.

The GIRFEC approach ensures that if and when additional help or support is needed, this will be provided quickly through a clear and trusted point of contact who can provide initial support, a holistic consideration of needs and referral for wider coordination of support if needed.

It means working with the child, young person or the family at the centre, and in the context of the child or young person's whole wellbeing, their family and world. Effective planning includes the child, young person and family to ensure a shared understanding of the planned supports.

The shared model and language enables children, young people, parents and practitioners to work across services so that support is joined up and streamlined.

The Scottish Government is strongly committed to GIRFEC and is updating Policy and Practice Guidance to provide organisations and practitioners with confidence and clarity to continue to deliver this approach.

Growing Up

In recognising that providing holistic support must extend from pre-birth and across all stages of parenthood, our preventative health services play a key role in minimising the risk of babies and children becoming care experienced. This includes breaking intergenerational cycles of poor outcomes and harm, alongside the wider role of supporting all families to improve their

health and wellbeing and that of their child. This is particularly true in the earliest years of life where universal health services are key to identifying potential harm and taking steps to intervene, due to their unique relationship with all families and the window for change that life stage presents, particularly for first time parents.

  • Every family in Scotland has access to preventative health services, which offer universal prevention, health promotion, and early intervention to families with young children. Available from pregnancy through to 5 years (school entry), with a scale of intensity proportionate to need,
  • The Best Start programme for maternal and neonatal services in Scotland which provides a continuity of carer for women with the most complex needs, developing trusting relationships throughout their pregnancy and birth.
  • Through the Family Nurse Partnership programme, young, first time mothers aged 19 and under (and 20-24 in some areas, based on additional need) are entitled to support. We know that younger mothers are more likely to be care experienced or transitioning through care and the targeted home visiting programme building strong relationships with families, starting before the baby is born, provides intensive, relational based support to young mothers across Scotland.
  • Ensuring that all care experienced children receive a health assessment, within 28 days of the Health Board being notified. Any ongoing care and treatment which is identified is an important first step in the support relationship and we are working with stakeholders to improve the consistency and quality of this initial assessment. We continue to work across the health service to identify who is best placed to carry out these assessments, and to refresh the guidance to support any gaps in implementation.
  • To help support young mothers, and recognising that around 50% of mothers who have repeat child removal have had their first child at a very young age, we have published guidance for schools on how to support young pregnant women/young parents to stay in school; and guidance on Key Messages for Young People on Healthy Relationships and Consent. We are currently working with experts to develop guidance for children under 12, to help them have happy, consensual relationships and to help keep them safe from and to be able to identify abuse.
  • Our ongoing support to every family across Scotland is continued through our national and universal programmes designed to give children the best possible start, including Baby Box; Bookbug; and our targeted PlayTalkRead programme, supporting parents and carers to develop positive relationships, form attachment and bond with their child from day one.
  • Ensuring the Universal Health Visitor Pathway is embedded and delivered in all Health Boards for children under 5 to deliver person centred care proportionate to need; and supporting the role of school nurses in improving health outcomes for school aged children and young people up to 18 years of age as they transition through school.
  • Play and the developmental benefits that come from social interaction and the importance of access to community facilities is recognised by The Promise. In this regard, delivering on children's right to play and building on our play strategy, we will deliver on our commitment to invest £60 million in renewing play parks across Scotland to ensure that all children have access to quality play in their own community.

Access to Early Learning & Childcare

High quality Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) promotes longer term benefits for children and young people, offering them the best possible start in life. Our programme of support is designed to improve children's development and narrow the poverty-related attainment gap; support more parents to have the opportunity to take up work, training or study; and ensure that family wellbeing improves through enhanced nurture and support.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 ensures our children in care are able to access funded early learning and childcare from age two. From August 2021, eligibility for the provision of funded early learning and childcare was expanded to include children of care experienced parents and importantly, once a child qualifies for early learning and childcare, they stay qualified.

Building on what we have learned from the 1140 programme for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds, our work to develop our funded offers of early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2 (starting with low-income households within this Parliamentary session) will be strongly aligned to whole family wellbeing and holistic family support.

We continue to work to maximise uptake of the existing offer of funded ELC for eligible 2 year olds through work with partners, including considering where we can adapt the offer and who can access it. We are also working to embed learning from the roll out of the Equity and Excellence Leadsroles and from our investment in the Family LearningScotland Programmeto maximise opportunities to create time and space to develop trusted relationships with families.

Mentoring For Children At Home

We continue to fund the intandem mentoring programme £750,000 each year to provide mentoring support to care experienced children and young people living at home aged 8-14. intandem provide children with a crucial long term relationship with a positive adult role model, particularly in relation to improving their mental and emotional wellbeing. The programme enables children to increase their self-confidence and self- esteem, improve their social relationships, reduce isolation and engage with the local community

We are currently exploring how we could work with intandem to extend this offer to children and young people with care experience who are living away from home. Of the support provided a 12 year old mentee said "My confidence has increased; I'm not shy anymore and I can stand up for myself"

Another mentee's mum said: "I want to tell everyone how much mentoring has helped my boy. I can't put into words. He went from doing nothing and feeling sad all the time to going out and trying new stuff. I'm so proud of him."

Wrap Around Support

As well as pre-school support, we know that school age childcare services play a vital role in enabling parents and carers to access work, addressing economic and social exclusion, and providing improved outcomes for children. That is why we will build a system of wraparound childcare by the end of this Parliament, providing care before and after school, all year round, and supporting parents to have secure and stable employment.

This wrap around support will be free to families on the lowest incomes and in designing what this looks like we will engage with care experienced young people to ensure that the new system meets their needs, as well as those of the six priority groups set out in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will take a Whole Family Approach across our key policy areas including:
    • 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 continue our work with Children's Services Planning Partnerships and the Kinship Care Collaborative to improve delivery of holistic whole family support including through our work to:
    • support pregnancy and maternal health and development through implementation of the guidance for schools on how to support young pregnant women/young parents to stay in school; and guidance on Healthy Relationships and consent
    • continue to support families through preventative health and care programmes, including maternity service, Family Nurse Partnership and health visiting, and initiatives designed for families and early years including: Baby Box and Play, Talk, Read
    • support families to access employment or education through provision of early years childcare; and increase financial assistance through doubling of the Scottish Child Payment and further increasing it to £25 by end 2022 when roll out to 6 – 15 year olds takes place
    • support programmes like Intandem that provide direct support to children and families who are looked after at home
  • We will work to expand funded early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2, starting with low-income households within this Parliament.We will ensure that the needs of care experienced children are at the heart of how we design that offer, and we will continue to work closely with local authorities to ensure that the 1140 hours of high quality child care that is already available to two, three and four year olds meets their needs.
  • 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.In the coming year we will engage people and communities – including children and young people – in designing options for this, and publish a 5 year delivery plan. As part of this we will engage with care experienced young people to ensure that the new system meets their needs, as well as those of the six priority groups set out in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan.

Chapter 3 Delivering An Education System That Supports Our Care Experienced Children And Young People

Our educational settings play a key role in supporting our families and communities, providing places, opportunities and relationships that can enrich the lives of children. However, we know that children and young people who are care experienced are likely to have lower attendance, are more likely to experience exclusion and are less likely to achieve qualifications than other children. We must work together to change this.

Although education outcomes for looked after children have improved over the last ten years, only 38% of looked after children left school with 1 or more qualification at SCQF level 5 compared to 86% of all pupils in 2019/20[6]. In addition to this, young people are more likely to have challenges in building sustained relationships with peers and the adults that work with them. It is important therefore that relationship based approaches, which have been established to be beneficial to children and young people, are used to maximum effect.

In line with Scotland's commitment to Getting it rightfor every child and the UNCRC, all children have a right to play, to learn and to access experiences that meet their physical, social, emotional and cultural needs. We have the benefit of curriculum guidance which spans both the early learning and childcare sector and the early stages of primary school.

Adopting a holistic approach to education, in May 2022 we will publish The Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland. This strategy is being developed to help tackle the wider structural and social inequalities that impact families' abilities to stay together and thrive. It will increase the availability of, access to and support for family learning, encouraging families to learn together and helping adults learn how to support their children's learning.

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change

Creating The Conditions For Change

Raising awareness about our shared commitment to Keep The Promise across the education system is important in creating the conditions and implementing our actions for change. Working with Education Scotland we are undertaking a Programme of Awareness raising through the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Regional Improvement Collaborative Leadership Teams, the Family Learning Network, the Virtual Schools and Head Teachers Network, and local authority Head Teacher Development Days.

This is to ensure the messages and actions for change set out in The Promise are understood and engagement on implementation can be progressed across all levels

Improving educational outcomes involves collaboration across a wider range of statutory, third sector and private sector services and organisations. Each area's Children's Services Plan[7] sets out how local partners work together to design and deliver learning experiences which positively impact on wellbeing, and lead to improved outcomes for children, young people and families.

To help achieve better outcomes there is a need to declutter the confusing landscape of action plans and legislative changes to ensure that there is impact in every learning environment.

Education Scotland are working across the wider education system to identify the actions required for practitioners, settings and local authorities to implement The Promise, the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Review[8], and incorporation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, within the framework of the getting it right for every child.

In addition, we have initiated an ambitious programme of education reform to build trust and transform and accelerate educational improvement and delivery at national, regional and local level. Professor Ken Muir has submitted his report to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills on reform to national education bodies[9] and the Scottish Government has set out its response[10]. The needs of care experienced pupils will be considered as part of the significant programme of education reform.

Removing Barriers

Relationship building is key to understanding needs and providing the correct support for each of our care experienced children and young people. The Promise identifies that to be able to do this our health, education and early years settings require an improved understanding of who the care experienced children and young people are that they are working with.

In practice this requires working with relationship- based and nurture approaches, with an understanding of the ways that trauma can impact on children and young people's development and wellbeing. This involves working in consultation with the child or young person and taking all reasonable steps to understand what is going on in that child's life and how current and past life experiences may influence relationships.

In exploring this further it is essential that a balance between privacy and utility is struck to ensure any changes to information sharing are done in the correct way and the wants of the children and young people concerned are respected. Planned work to improve information sharing is discussed further in Chapter 13.

Education Scotland are developing two resources to support Relationship based approaches across the educational workforce.

  • Promoting positive relationships and behaviour in educational settings and
  • Restorative approaches to support positive relationships and behaviour.

These resources are designed to support an informed level of practice and will be accessible to a wide range of practitioners. Work has begun to share with other services, such as, Children's Hearings Scotland, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, Police, and Community Learning and development to promote shared values and language across all services supporting children and young people.

Alongside this, Education Scotland, working in partnership, have developed a National Improvement Hub of resources to increase awareness for practitioners on how to support children and young people on the edges of care, in care and those at risk of being criminalised.

Education Scotland has also supported Scottish Government in reviewing reports from local authorities on the use of the Care Experienced Children and Young People's Fund. From these reviews information about interventions and approaches used, measures and planned impact, and thinking about data mapping and collection has been fed back annually into the wider education system. A series of engagement events are underway through the Regional Improvement Collaboratives[11] to explore and promote further ways to improve service integration and multi- agency working and the impact of this funding.

Supporting School Attendance and Addressing Exclusion

The Promise tell us that our care experienced children and young people are two and a half times more likely to be excluded from school up to age 16; and one and a half times more likely to have unauthorised absences at school at 16.

Regular and sustained attendance at school can be challenging especially where there may be difficulties at home, there may be pressures with peers or where regular changes in school make relationship building and familiarity difficult. The Promise tells us that in being ambitious for achievement and opportunity we must recognise that schools provide an important place for our care experienced children and young people to enjoy stable, nurturing relationships that prepare them for life beyond school.

Our national guidance, Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2 12, is already clear that exclusion should be used as a measure of last resort and that there are particular considerations before the exclusion of care experienced young people. In working towards the commitment to reduce inappropriate and unlawful exclusion, we will maintain and further embed our approach to relational approaches and promoting positive relationships and behaviour in order to ensure that the use of exclusion of care experienced pupils only takes place, when all other approaches have been exhausted.

We have engaged with the Scottish Advisory Group for Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS), to discuss exclusion in the context of promoting positive relationships and behaviour in schools. We have sought examples of positive practice in reducing exclusion through inclusive and relational approaches in order to establish further effective practices. Nurture, relational approaches and consistent approaches to exclusion decisions have been identified as key features in authorities where these changes have been effective.

This work has identified patterns in reasons for exclusion and a programme of engagement with key establishments is to be undertaken over the course of this year to understand the underlying causes of exclusion in particular settings.

This national guidance, Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2also provides direction to education authorities in relation to physical intervention. Any incident where a decision is made to physically intervene within a school must be recorded and monitored. The guidance asks that each education authority include details of how this should be undertaken in their policy on de-escalation, physical intervention.

In response to the Children and Young People Commissioner's 2018 No Safe Place report, around the use of restraint in schools, the Scottish Government established the physical intervention working group. Since 2019, its aim has been to develop new human rights-based guidance to minimise the use of physical intervention, physical restraint and seclusion in schools. The scope of the new guidance includes all schools (education authority, independent, and grant-aided). New definitions and a standard dataset for recording and monitoring their use will be included in the guidance, which is currently being prepared for public consultation. This work aligns to ongoing work on use of restraint in residential and secure care settings discussed further in Chapter 9.

Supporting Attainment

Curriculum for Excellence 'early level' is intended to support the implementation of a responsive, continuous play-based curriculum for children aged three to six. The national practice guidance for this, Realising the Ambition, makes clear our focus must be on supporting children to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base which will stand them in good stead as they grow and develop. Nurturing and attached relationships are essential to creating the conditions for children to flourish.

With Kids Play Therapy Programme

Edinburgh City Council used some of their Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund in 20/21 on a With Kids Play Therapy Programme. Skilled play therapists worked in primary schools and provided therapeutic play interventions to individuals and in a small group setting.

With Kids also worked with families to support them to understand the impact of trauma, their relationship with their child and how they can use therapeutic strategies to support their child's development.

Whilst educational outcomes for our care experienced children and young people have improved over the last ten years, we know that large gaps remain compared with all learners. The percentage of care experienced school leavers achieving all SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework) qualification levels is consistently lower than all school leavers. We also know that differences exist between the different types of care settings, with young people in foster and kinship care having better outcomes, relative to those living in other placements.

The Scottish Mentoring & Leadership Programme

The Scottish Mentoring & Leadership programme will reach up to 15,000 care experienced and disadvantaged young people across 300 schools over the next five years. As a core offering, the programme will see the MCR Pathways mentoring programme rolled out to schools that want it.

Evidence suggests the MCR mentoring model has demonstrable positive impact on young people's attendance, attainment and positive destinations. Columba 1400's values-based leadership programme will be offered to 2,400 of the young people who participate to put their voices at the heart of

the change. The programme is about putting trusting relationships are the heart of the young people's journey to support them towards better outcomes and life chances.

The programme is currently being rolled out across Scotland, initially targeting a number of priority local authority areas.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge Programme has a vital role to play in building upon the progress being made to tackle the poverty related attainment gap and support the children who need it most, especially our care experienced young people. Over the period to 2025/26 we will see around £11.5 million distributed each year to local authorities to further support attainment.

Through this commitment we aim to ensure every child has the same opportunity to succeed. To date, funding has supported a wide range of innovative interventions which have helped young people with their learning and wellbeing including mentoring programmes, outdoor learning and play activities and virtual head teacher.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge

The Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) was launched by the First Minister in February 2015. It is underpinned by The National Improvement Framework, Curriculum for Excellence and Getting it Right for Every Child. It focuses on improvement activity in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing in specific areas of Scotland. It will also support and complement the broader range of initiatives and programmes to ensure that all of Scotland's children and young people reach their full potential.

Over the Parliamentary session to 2025/26 we will invest £1 billion through the Attainment Scotland Fund to support recovery from the pandemic and provide support for children and young people impacted by poverty through funding to local authorities, Pupil Equity Funding, Care Experienced Children and Young People funding and a number of national programmes.

The next phase of the SAC has been developed in partnership with and agreed by COSLA and builds on the evidence set out in the Scottish Government and Education Scotland 5 year reporton progress towards closing the poverty related attainment gap, the Equity Audit, the Audit Scotlandreporton educational outcomes, and the OECD review.

It will continue to provide support for children and young people impacted by poverty through funding to local authorities, Pupil Equity Funding, Care Experienced Children and Young People funding and a number of national programmes.

The refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge programme, from 2022/23, will include:

  • an investment of up to £200 million in 2022/2023 to support children and young people impacted by poverty
  • continued empowerment of head teachers through Pupil Equity Funding as the primary model for distributing funding to the education system, with funding of approximately £130 million to be allocated to 97% of schools.
  • a clearer and funded strategic role for all local authorities. Recognising the impact of poverty and the pandemic across every local authority area in Scotland, funding of over £43 million will be distributed to every local authority based on Children in Low Income Families Data.
  • funding for Pupil Equity Funding and local authorities confirmed over 4 years to enable long term local planning
  • continued support for care experienced children and young people, contributing to efforts across all services to Keep The Promise. This will see approximately £11.5 million to be distributed to local authorities, with allocations confirmed in May/June as usual.
  • investment in national programmes to enhance supports across the system, supporting a range of national initiatives such as youth work and mentoring
  • a clear framework to support recovery and accelerate progress, led by Education Scotland
  • a broader recognition of children and young people's achievements and attainment through a refreshed mission: to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty with a focus on tackling the poverty related attainment gap.

This will enable authorities and schools – working with their communities, a range of services and the third sector – to support education recovery, reduce variation and accelerate progress in tackling the poverty related attainment gap.

Virtual Head Teacher

Many local authorities have established a Virtual School Head Teacher or Care

Experienced Team. These teams and roles have a specific focus within their local authority to bring about improvements in the education of care experienced children and young people and to promote their educational achievement as if they were in a single school. The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building but is an organisational tool which has been created for the effective co-ordination of support for this group at a strategic and operational level.

The implementation of a Virtual Head Teacher role in 17 local authorities in Scotland has ensured a strong continued focus on meeting the particular needs of care experienced children and young people and this will be extended to a further two local authorities as of April 2022

Supporting Access to Further & Higher Education

In delivering the Young Person's Guarantee via further and higher education we work closely with colleges, universities and their representative organisations to provide additional opportunities for learning, targeted at some of the most disadvantaged young people in our communities including care experienced young people. In addition, Skills Development Scotland offer enhanced contribution rates for Modern Apprentices up to the age of 29 for our care experienced young people.

To support learning and address potential unfairness in the system, our care experience people who meet the access threshold are now guaranteed offer of an undergraduate place at a Scottish University (excluding The Open University in Scotland as it has a different admissions system). From 2020-21, Higher Education Institutions have offered places (or, where necessary, invitations to interview/audition) to all care experienced applicants if they meet the minimum entry requirements. This offer is based on an agreed definition of care experienced learner agreed with Universities Scotland and key partners in 2019.

In supporting access to education, we remain committed to the principle that access should be based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay. As Corporate Parents we recognise that it is our duty to ensure our care experienced students are given equal opportunities to access and thrive in Further and Higher Education.

Based on evidence that those with care experience were less likely to enter Higher Education, in part, due to the prospect of incurring financial debt through taking out a student loan, the Care Experienced Bursary was introduced in 2017/18. This is a non-income assessed, non- repayable grant of £8,100 per year for eligible Scottish domiciled students in full-time Further or Higher Education at college or university and is available to students who have been in care by a Local Authority in the UK, before turning 18.

This group of learners may feel less able to rely on family for future financial support. The bursary is in recognition of these particular circumstances, which can present a barrier to further study for those with care experience. The policy intention is not only to remove the prospect of debt and provide living cost support, adding value to the existing support provided by local authorities, but also to act as an incentive for people with experience of care to enter Further or Higher Education.

We are committed to an ambitious programme of reform to our student support package over this Parliament session. We are committed that the total student support package reaches the equivalent of the Living Wage over the next three years, including for estranged students; we will also introduce a special support payment so that students on benefits do not lose out because they are in receipt of, or entitled to, student support; and we will undertake a review of postgraduate funding and take measures to halt student loan interest during maternity leave.

In line with our commitment to review the support provided to students during summer, the Student Awards Agency Scotland has developed their systems to enable Higher Education students,

in receipt of the Care Experienced Students Bursary and any Student Awards Agency Scotland living cost grants (which are available to certain categories of students such as lone parents and those with dependants) the option of choosing between the existing term time payment cycle (generally 9 months) or a 12 monthly payment cycle. This will spread payment of the £8,100 per year care experienced bursary over the summer vacation period. Applications open in April 2022.

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) programme aims to provide financial support to 16 to 19 year-olds from low-income households. Within EMA, there are specific provisions, providing universal access to EMA for young people who are care experienced or care leavers.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will take a holistic approach to learning through The Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland, to be published in May 2022.
  • We will create the conditions for change in our approach to education by raising awareness through
    • engagement to raise the profile and understanding of The Promise within education settings
    • provision of resources to support relationship based approaches across the educational workforce including through the National Improvement Hub and support for working with Realising the Ambition
    • the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Review and incorporation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child
  • We will value and recognise the needs of care experienced pupils through
    • review of the Care Experienced Children and Young People's Fund to understand the interventions and approaches to promote further ways to improve service integration and multi-agency working.
    • Provide access for every school aged child in Scotland to an appropriate digital device and connectivity by the end of this Parliamentary session
  • We will support attendance and reduce exclusion of care experienced children from education.
  • We will support access to further and higher education for care experienced learners who may feel less able to rely on family support,including
    • funding through programmes including the Care Experienced Bursary; the Education Maintenance Allowance;
    • delivering the Young Person's Guarantee;
    • commitment to offer a place at a Scottish University who meet the agreed minimum entry requirements
    • developing a pathway approach to allow those with a care experience to be identified from early years to post-school and on to employment to enable additional support, for example, a marker or a flag.

Chapter 4 Employability And Creating Opportunity

In creating a Scotland that is a fair and equal society, we must continue to create greater equity and opportunity for our care experienced young people and adults. We must continue to increase access to employment, training and support, all of which will, in turn, contribute to our ambitions on productivity growth and wellbeing.

The Promise tells us that our care experienced people are over three times as likely to have not had a full time job by age 26; and over one and a half times more likely to have financial difficulties. Care experienced school leavers are less likely to go on to positive destinations than school leavers in general, especially higher education, with 75% of looked after leavers going on to a positive follow-up destination in 2019/20, compared with 92% of all leavers.

As set out in Scotland's National Strategy for Economic Transformation, our vision for 2032 is to create a wellbeing economy: a society that is thriving across economic, social and environmental dimensions. Our aim is to achieve a fairer and more equal society by reorienting our economy towards wellbeing and fair work, to deliver higher rates of employment and wage growth, to significantly reduce structural poverty, particularly child poverty, and improve health, cultural and social outcomes for disadvantaged families and communities.

Fair and sustainable employment can offer a route out of poverty for many families and we are committed to ensuring that everybody who can and wants to work has the opportunity to find fulfilling and sustainable employment suitable to their needs and skills, and that those facing barriers to employment, including young people, disabled people and those with care experience can access any additional support they need.

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change

Fair Employment

In August 2021, the Living Hours Accreditation Scheme was launched in Scotland. It recognises that in addition to payment of the real Living Wage, the number and frequency of work hours are critical to tackling in-work poverty. Businesses looking for certification must meet nationally agreed standards and the new scheme will help to alleviate in work poverty and create more secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs.

On average care experienced adults earn three quarters of the salaries of their peers. In supporting the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Scheme we want everybody in Scotland to have an income that allows acceptable living standards and to this end we promote payment of the real Living Wage Rate of £9.90 per hour, to all employees aged 18 and above. This measure will target support to low income groups like our care experienced.

We are committed to commencing work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee in Scotland. This is an assurance that no one will fall below a set income level that would allow them to live a dignified life. We recognise that it will not be possible to deliver change overnight, but it is important to make step changes, using existing powers, within the shorter term. We have established a Steering Group to explore how this can be delivered within existing powers.

Comprised of an independent expert group and a cross party strategy group this work will look at how a Minimum Income Guarantee should work for different priority households, including care experienced people and families. The Steering

Group is due to present its initial report before the end of 2022.

Access and Support In Employment

The actions set out within this Implementation Plan are interconnected with those in our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan (2022-2026). We know that a disproportionate number of our care experienced families live in our poorest and most disadvantaged areas, and are more likely to experience child poverty. We have therefore set out a number of key commitments in our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, to both meet our statutory targets and improve outcomes for the families that need it most. These commitments will aim to both reduce out of work poverty by supporting unemployed and inactive parents or carers into work; and reduce in-work poverty by supporting working parents to increase their wages or hours.

Employability support has a pivotal role in ensuring people who want to find and stay in fair and sustainable work and can achieve their potential. No One Left Behind is our approach to placing people of all ages at the centre of the design and delivery of employability services in

Scotland. This holistic person centred approach is targeted at individuals including those who have experience of care and parents experiencing poverty, and for whom without additional support may struggle to access or sustain employment.

We will significantly increase investment in our No One Left Behind approach to support parents to access and progress in work through a new offer for parents experiencing poverty; which brings together a range of services and support – including employability, childcare, health, transport and family wellbeing, with the aim of reducing poverty by increasing household income through employment. The menu of support would be the same for every parent, but applied based on the need and circumstances of the individual parent/ family.

We will also work to ensure that employability and skills support is matched with fair work opportunities, and will work in partnership with public, private and third sector employers to identify and overcome barriers to parental employment. This includes progressing fair work actions in low paid sectors.

In line with the Scottish Approach to Service Design, No One Left Behind puts the person at the heart of the process in a system that is more flexible and responsive to the changing labour market to deliver more holistic and localised services to those most disadvantaged in the labour market. This includes care experienced people as well as people with disability, people with convictions, single parents, minority ethnic people, and people living in the most deprived areas in Scotland.

A Lived Experience Panel was established in October 2020, which brought together users from groups likely to experience barriers to employment, including care experienced people. Through Lived Experience Panels, we have embedded user voice in the development of our National Products for No One Left Behind, providing consistency and local flexibility in the delivery of employment support services.

We are investing almost £24 million in 2022/23 in Fair Start Scotland (FSS),our first iteration of devolved employability provision. The person-

centred approach to all Scottish Government funded employability delivery including Fair Start Scotland ensures people are treated with dignity and respect by providing flexible support, taking into account personal circumstances and removing barriers to accessing work.

Young Person's Guarantee

The Scottish Government and partners have developed the Young Person's Guarantee, which aims to connect every 16 to 24 year old to the opportunity of a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training programme or volunteering placement. We are providing up to £130 million, with the aim of supporting at least 24,000 new and enhanced opportunities for young people; this is further backed by up to £45 million in 2022/23. Over 500 employers have signed up to the Guarantee, offering in excess of 9,000 opportunities, many of which focus on care experienced young people, including those provided by Scottish Enterprise, Burness Paull LLP and Johnsons of Elgin.

Care experienced young people have been identified as a priority group, with support starting for many, whilst they are in school via Developing the Young Workforce and career information, advice and guidance services. The recent report from the Career Review and subsequent Scottish Government response, highlighted that "in line with the Independent Care Review and The Promise, love and nurture should be at the heart of all career services delivered to care experienced young people with a focus on supporting them, as a parent would, to realise their full potential".

  • The Developing the Young Workforce programme enhances provision for care experienced young people in schools. This includes via School Coordinators supporting every mainstream secondary school in Scotland and via our partnership with MCR Pathways and Career Ready, to provide mentors for young people across Scotland.
  • Many Local Employability Partnerships are prioritising supported employment, education and training programmes for care experienced young people, which also includes strengthening the voice of care leavers in local service design. Employer Recruitment Incentives are available to support those furthest away from the labour market, including those who have been in the care system.
  • The Discovering Your Potential employability programme provides flexible and intensive support for care leavers, who face multiple barriers to accessing positive destinations. Additional funding is provided to Inspiring Scotland to deliver Our Future Now, an employability programme aimed at vulnerable young people who are facing significant barriers, including those with care experience.

Since its launch in April 2018, there have been over 41,000 starts on the service, with over 14,000 people moving into work by 31 December 2021.

The latest evaluation shows that 4% of participants in the third year of delivery (Apr 2020 – March 2021) were care experienced, and that by 31 March 2021, a total of 1,600 care experienced participants13[1] had been supported.

We believe that access to high quality youth work opportunities helps young people to build positive, supportive relationships. Youth work helps to do this by providing the right level of support to young people, at the right time, by reliable, committed professionals and volunteers.

In recognition of this, we are developing a Scottish Youth Work Strategy, where youth work outcomes are based on a foundation of trust, respect and values that puts each young person at the centre of their learning journey. The Youth Work Strategy is due to be published by November 2022.

Supporting Those Not In Work

Social Security Scotland recognises that every community includes people who experience communication difficulties. We know people who have experienced care are more likely than other people to have challenges with reading and writing related to adverse childhood experiences which have impacted on their school learning.

This is why we are working to implement communication inclusive approaches in everything we do within our social security system. For example, we make sure our written information uses everyday words in simple, straightforward sentences. This supports people who find reading a lot of text hard. Social Security Scotland continue to develop a set of quality standards and indicators against which we can judge our progress, and identify the practical actions we must take to become an inclusive service. In practice, this means finding out what helps a person to understand the information put to them, and how to then express their needs. For example, if a person with care experience tells us they prefer to talk to us about their needs we enable them do this rather than requiring them to write things down.

Scotland's social security system has been designed and developed with people who have lived experience. A key mechanism through which this has been achieved is through Experience Panels that involved care experienced people, Kinship and foster carers to find out their experiences and needs of social security in Scotland. This work and the findings continues to feed into policy decisions and service design.

We are committed to continuing to consider the needs of care experienced children, young people and their families in the design and access to financial support. To achieve this, we continue to work collaboratively to ensure that kinship carers are able to access Best Start Grant, Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment, explicitly recognising their role in the legislation as well as ensuring the application process and evidence requirements are accessible and easy to understand.

Social Security Scotland Care Leavers Programme

Social Security Scotland is committed to offering career opportunities to care experienced young people. Three Care

Leavers' Internships are now in their first year of working with Social Security Scotland and the second intake of placements are due to begin working this year. Training for managers to support care internship has also been delivered, in addition to a short-term mentoring programme introduced via Who Cares Scotland.

In 2019, Social Security Scotland published its first Corporate Parenting Plan. Updated in July 2021, the document sets out the approach the organisation will take to support care experienced people.

This has been developed with support from three leading groups – Who Cares Scotland, the Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare forum and the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection. The Plan focuses on access to and understanding of the benefits provided by Social Security Scotland, and provides continued mentoring, work experience and employment opportunities.

We are committed to increasing benefit take-up by ensuring people are aware of, and enabled to access, the financial support that they are eligible for and entitled to. Care experienced people are identified within our second Benefit Take-up Strategy, published in October 2021, as one of our Seldom Heard groups. Seldom Heard groups are likely to experience reduced access to, or take-up of, the Scottish benefits they are entitled to.

We will listen and act upon the views of those with lived experience of accessing the benefits system and equally of those that have not yet accessed the benefit system. To do this, we are currently expanding the membership of our Stakeholder Take-up Reference Group and going forward, we will engage with Who Cares? Scotland to make sure the voices of our Care Experienced population are represented in all future policy work.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will work to tackle child poverty by supporting parents as outlined in the Tackling Child Poverty Action Delivery Plan(2022-2026)
    • We recognise that tackling child poverty and Keeping The Promise are two interconnected commitments which both require a system change and a partnership approach.
    • We are investing over £80 million in 2022/23 to support delivery of an offer to parents from the priority family groups; providing support tailored to their needs through a dedicated keyworker, including support to access childcare and transport and access to skills and training.
    • We will launch a £2 million Challenge Fund to test out new approaches to supporting parents into work.
    • It is also vital that people experiencing in-work poverty are able to access the training support they need in order to progress in work; and we are committed to delivering an ambitious lifetime upskilling and retraining offer that is easy, accessible and targeted at those who need it most.
  • We will improve access to employment for our care experienced people,treating people with dignity and respect by providing flexible support, taking into account personal circumstances and removing barriers to accessing employment by
    • continuing to promote the Real Living Wage rate for all employees aged 18 or over through the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Scheme and the Scottish Living Hours Accreditation Scheme.
    • promoting fair work practices through public procurement policy and practice. By summer 2022, we will introduce a requirement on public sector grant recipients to pay at least the real living Wage to all employees.
    • we will invest £6 million through the Parental Employability Support Fund (PESF), providing dedicated support for low income families; and also
    • continuing to work with the steering group to explore how to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee
  • We will continue to adopt a Scottish Approach to employability through our No One Left Behind approach and
    • continue to support care experienced young people through the Young Person's Guarantee, ensuring their voices are heard in the development of services
    • continue to support care leavers to access support through the Discovering Your Potential employability programme and wider initiatives delivered through the 3rd sector such as Our Future Now
    • support our disabled population to enter and progress within the labour market through implementation of A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Employment Action Plan
    • through our Corporate Parenting approach provide employability and apprenticeship opportunities for care experienced people
  • We will support access to and understanding of the benefits provided by Social Security Scotland, and
    • continue to support Kinship Care through the Best Start Grant Best Start Foods and Scottish Child Payment
    • provide continued mentoring, work experience and employment opportunities through the Social Security Corporate Parenting Plan
    • continue to work with our care experienced people to design our services and support access to and understanding of the benefits provided by Social Security Scotland; provide mentoring, work experience and employment opportunities

Chapter 5 Tackling Inequality & Supporting Our Communities

We know that the places we live, the communities we live within and the environment that surrounds us can have a profound impact on our lives.

We know also that our most disadvantaged communities have higher levels of crime, poorer health outcomes and increased levels of alcohol and drug use. To make real changes that really make a difference we need to really understand the circumstances of people's lives. That means taking a person centred, place based approach which starts and ends with individual stories in real places.

Place is where people, location and resources combine to create a sense of identity and purpose. It is at the heart of addressing the needs and realising the full potential of communities. Places are shaped by the way resources, services and assets are directed and used by the people who live in and invest in them. In Keeping The Promise we must ensure we adopt a more joined- up, collaborative, and participative approach to services, land and buildings, across all sectors within a place, enables better outcomes for everyone and increased opportunities for people and communities to shape their own lives.

The Place Principle

The Place Principle is the overarching context for place-based working in Scotland.

The Scottish Government and COSLA adopted the Place Principle to help overcome organisational and sectoral boundaries, to encourage better collaboration and community involvement, and improve the impact of combined energy, resources and investment.

Developed by partners in the public and private sectors, the third sector and communities, the Place Principle helps establish a clear vision for collaboration around place.

It promotes a shared understanding of place, and the need to take a more collaborative approach to a place's services and assets to achieve better outcomes for people and communities. The principle encourages and enables local flexibility to respond to issues and circumstances in different places. It helps partners and local communities unlock the National Performance Framework and make it applicable to where and how they live and work.

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change

Improving Human Rights

A new Human Rights Bill will be introduced to Parliament during this parliamentary session. This Bill, which follows on from the work of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership report, will incorporate four UN human rights treaties into Scots law, as far as possible within devolved competence, and provide for further rights.

As part of our lived experience work, we are developing an approach to ensure children and young people and the voices of our care experienced people are heard. Consideration of children's rights will be an important part of the development of the Human Rights Bill. Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, including children as well as adults.

The Bill will strengthen human rights protections and provide full and equal access to a range of internationally recognised human rights as far as possible to improve the lives of people in Scotland. A human-rights based approach to our public engagement continues to be a key aim in the development of the Bill. As part of that approach, we recognise that barriers to accessing human rights fall disproportionately on specific rights groups, including care experienced, so these groups will have a role at the heart of developing this Bill. Work is ongoing to launch a formal consultation that will be undertaken during 2022, with other forms of public participation running in parallel involving key stakeholder forums with a number of diverse groups, including care experienced.

Later in 2022, we will consult on a draft strategy for consultation to better mainstream equality, inclusion and human rights across Government and the wider public sector, which will look at how we improve leadership and accountability in this space, build greater policy coherence, strengthen capability and skills, and improve how we centre evidence and lived experience in policy making. As part of this work, we are reviewing the operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland, which guides public bodies on their legal obligations under the Equality Act to promote equality, tackle discrimination and foster good relations between those with a protected characteristic and those without it. A consultation on this closes in April and we will undertake further engagement to inform updated regulations. Many of our care experienced young people have protected characteristics which will compound the inequalities they experience through being care experienced. So for both of these areas of work we will actively encourage input from care experienced young people's organisations to ensure their needs are reflected.

Supporting Social Inclusion

The Social Innovation Partnership (SIP) is a partnership with The Hunter Foundation and a number of social entrepreneurs set up in 2016 to test and scale innovative approaches to tackling poverty and inequality and to influence wider system reform. Through extracting learning from a range of SIP investments the SIP has developed a distinctive overarching wellbeing and capabilities approach that is about supporting people, including care experienced young people, to live flourishing lives based on what matters to them.

This approach recognises the importance of relational and flexible support rooted in personal wellbeing, human connections, a sense of belonging, and tailored access support that promotes positive destinations, including employability. Our learning partner, I-Sphere, has said the SIP 'represents an approach to public service delivery that is distinctive to Scotland and could have important lessons for policy and practice. By combining a focus on individual capabilities with a recognition of the importance of social connection, it has the potential to effect profound change in how public services respond to the impact of poverty on both individuals and their communities'. We will publish the initial findings from our learning partner by June 2022.

Going forward we will scale the SIP's wellbeing and capabilities approach at two key levels:

  • Firstly by continuing to work with social entrepreneurs to test, scale and bring together innovative and person-centred approaches that support flourishing lives.
  • Secondly, by working to remove systemic barriers that get in the way of delivering person-centred and relational approaches. The SIP already supports a small number of local authority partnership (Tayside Collaborative and the Clackmannanshire Family Wellbeing Partnership) to help facilitate this. We plan to establish a further three such partnerships over the next four years.

Taking A Place Based Approach

The Place Principle and The Promise share common principles, particularly around listening to the voices of communities and responding holistically. This offers the opportunity to frame a more integrated approach to local transformation. Ensuring that all local decisions are made collaboratively, are relevant to the communities in that place, and are for the benefit of all the people who live there

We are committed, with COSLA, to delivering the Place Principle. This is an active 5 year programme to accelerate our policy ambitions through 20 minute neighbourhoods, community- led regeneration and town centre revitalisation. The scaffolding to deliver this includes:

  • a £325 million Place Based Investment Programme designed to take a whole system approach to the use of resources for shared outcome;
  • the Place Framework which sets out common questions to consider when determining local change; and
  • the setting up of a Place Action Group which is addressing coordination across portfolios and localities.

Each area of Scotland has a Children's Services Plan, with the aim of safeguarding, supporting and promoting the wellbeing of children, young people and families to improve outcomes. Delivery of the Place Principle is a key component of this work.

Improving The Places Where We Live

National Planning Framework 4, when adopted, will set out the Scottish Governments priorities and policies for the planning system up to 2045 and how our approach to planning and development will help to achieve a net zero, sustainable Scotland by 2045. This has been informed by mapped data showing the spatial distribution of children living in poverty and the spatial strategy aims to respond to this by creating better places and addressing concentrations of economic deprivation.

The Promise asks for a consistent, national approach to ensure there are places in every community for parents of young children to meet other local parents, to stay and play with their children, and get support and advice. In December 2021, we launched consultations on Open Space Strategies, Play Sufficiency Assessments and Local Development Plan Regulations which will benefit physical and cognitive development, and uphold children's right to engage in play and recreational activities as well as ensuring access to greenspace to ensure the best possible play experience.

The Place Standard Tool

The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about place. It allows you to think about the physical elements of a place (for example its buildings, spaces, and transport links) as well as the social aspects (for example whether people feel they have a say in decision making).

The tool provides prompts for discussions, allowing communities to consider all the elements of a place in a methodical way. The tool pinpoints the assets of a place as well as areas where a place could improve.

The Place Standard tool empowers communities including children and young people in shaping the future of their places, helping to address issues such as child poverty, social isolation and wellbeing.

A Children & Young People's Version is currently being piloted and will be launched in spring 2022. The Place Standard will support children and young people to collaborate and co-create person-centred communities with the wrap-around support that suits each unique local context. This approach will be pivotal in providing the support that people need, when they need it and will be of critical importance to our rural and island communities.

Health & Wellbeing

Place is important to health and wellbeing.

Our Place and Wellbeing Programme includes a range of work focussed on supporting local level action. Bringing together public, private and third sectors, to jointly drive changes to reduce health inequalities within communities.

Through a focus on supporting local level actions and aligning national policy and legislation we are working with health and social care services to co- create wellbeing locally. We are focusing on two key areas for which we believe there is already momentum for change.

  • Anchors: we will support our health and social care providers to become active 'anchor institutions' that help to prevent some causes of health inequalities by building wealth in their community.
  • Communities: we will cultivate community-led health improvement activity and look to embed this into local public services, for example through social prescribing.

We recognise the unique role sport can play in young people's wellbeing and outcomes. However, we know that our care experienced young people do not enjoy the same positive

advantages, experiences and outcomes as other children. We want Scotland's care experienced young people, to feel welcome and involved in sport and we are working to ensure Sportscotland and the sports sector have a better understanding of the needs of our care experienced young people. This includes improved access to sports coaching, sports leadership opportunities and improved access to career and development with Sportscotland.


A commitment to inclusion underpins everything that sportscotland do and this is set out with their corporate strategy, Sport For Life. As a Corporate Parent, sportscotland have a responsibility to understand and respond to the needs of care experienced young people as any parent should and the draft Corporate Parenting commitments, demonstrate how they intend to make a difference to the lives of our young people. Some examples of where Sportscotland programmes have improved opportunities for our care experienced young people include:

  • During summer 2020, 149 childcare hubs – set up for vulnerable children and the children of key workers – were supported by 268 Active Schools staff and 22 Community Sport Hub Officers, providing at least 25,319 hours of support. The Active Schools network undertook a wide range of roles, including hub management, direct delivery of activity, and social media promotion. Working closely with care experienced and vulnerable children allowed Active Schools to gain a better understanding of individual children's challenges, in turn leading to ideas for improved provision moving forward.
  • The Get into Summer programme was a great initiative to create opportunities for children and young people to socialise, play and reconnect during the summer holiday period. sportscotland received £1.4m, which was distributed to local partners across all 32 local authorities to ensure that sport and physical activity opportunities were included within the local Get into Summer programme. The funding drove collaboration and innovation at the grassroots level, targeted at those who most needed access to activity. This included offering care experienced young people the opportunity to try sports and activities they would not normally have had the opportunity to do so.

Building Safer Communities

Ensuring that we have a society in which all people feel and are safer in their communities is one of the five main aims of our Vision for Justice. We know that feeling safe is not felt equally for everyone across our communities. People who have experience of the justice system feel less safe than the general public. We know that those with care experience are over represented in the criminal justice system in Scotland. Although those who have been in care only make up an estimated 0.5% of the general population, almost half of young people in prison reported that they had experienced care

We must work across public services to prevent crime and harm and ensure the right services can support early intervention in harmful behaviour.

We know that to address the causes of crime Scotland's public services together must tackle societal inequalities such as child poverty, mental ill health, addiction and adverse childhood experiences. We must not criminalise those who are most vulnerable in our society. To support people to live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe, we will publish the first ever national Violence Prevention Framework in 2022. The Framework will consider all the available evidence and identify policy priorities for all partners to work to as we seek to prevent violence and make Scotland's communities safer.

The Framework will take account of the evidence, including that our care experienced people are over represented in the criminal justice system and will highlight the work to tackle the links between Adverse Childhood Experiences and future victimisation or offending behavior. This will include work delivered through the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, Police Scotland Youth Volunteers and Medics Against Violence's Hospital Navigators programme to prevent and reduce the harm caused by violence. By supporting people with multiple complex social issues, including those who are and have been from a care experienced background, to be able to access the support and help they need to turn their lives around and reach their potential, many of whom are also parents which will ultimately help reduce the number of young people ending up in care.

The Cashback For Communities Programme

Cashback for Communities uses assets seized from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people across Scotland. The current Phase 5 runs from April 2020 to March 2023 with committed funds of up to £19 million to support a mix of national and local projects, delivered by third sector and community organisations.

The aim is to provide diversionary activities to support those most at risk of being involved in antisocial behaviour and crime, with a focus on areas of deprivation. Whilst all projects within the CashBack portfolio are designed to support vulnerable young people, Phase 5 also offers specific integrational support for parents, families and children impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences as well as specialist trauma counselling services. For example,

  • Cyrenians works specifically with young people in Scotland's five secure units to support them and their families to rebuild their relationships. The aim, where possible, is to enable young people to return to their family home.
  • Celtic FC Foundation are delivering specialist trauma counselling sessions to provide intensive one-to-one support for young people
  • Includem works closely with Social Services and other community based partners to provide an early intervention one-to-one support service for young people, their parents and carers.

Through the CashBack for Communities Programme we have taken steps to directly support Keeping The Promise:

  • We have promoted our commitment to The Promise amongst CashBack partner organisations who were all invited to take part in a trauma-informed workforce session in November 2021. Further signposting to training and information resources has been provided.
  • We have embedded Children's Rights and UNCRC principles into the CashBack programme in the conditions of grant letters. CashBack funded organisations are also being supported to complete Children's Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments.
  • We have adjusted the scope of the independent evaluation for Phase 5 to include analysis of the effectiveness of the programme in delivering support for care experienced children, children on the edge of care and their families. The evaluation will be undertaken after Phase 5 concludes in March 2023.

Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Our Equally Safe strategy, published in 2018 aims for a strong and flourishing Scotland where all individuals are equally safe and respected, and where women and girls live free from all forms of violence and abuse – and the attitudes that help perpetuate it. We are working collaboratively with key partners in the public and third sectors to implement this strategy, and achieve our key objectives of preventing and eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Working together with COSLA we will publish a new short-life (2 year) Equally Safe Delivery Plan by the end of June 2022 that will run until Autumn 2023. This plan will build on the many achievements of its predecessor, consolidate existing priorities and commitments, and consider what needs to be achieved for the Violence Against Women and Girls sector to fully recover from the pandemic. Longer term, we will be conducting a wider refresh of Equally Safe for commencement in Autumn 2023.

We are also maintaining our Delivering Equally Safe Fund, which is providing support to a number of organisations working with children and young people affected by gender-based violence. Over the 2 year life-span of the fund, we are providing over £3.4 million to 12 organisations solely working with children and young people. We are providing a further £15 million to groups providing support to women and children.

Missing People

Young People make up more than half of all missing persons episodes in Scotland each year (around 60%) with half of those related to care experienced children. So far in 2021-22 there have been 3,840 missing person investigations for children who are in care (to March 2022)

compared to 7,243 in 2016-17. To help address this, we continue to implement the National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland with the aim of preventing people from going missing and limiting the harm when they do.

Children who go missing are especially vulnerable and of those who go missing, many will often do so repeatedly. It is therefore important that we understand why they went missing and provide the support to prevent future episodes.

A 'return discussion' with an appropriate professional can offer insight into the reasons for the missing episode and provide the opportunity for appropriate support to be put in place to enhance wellbeing, provide protections and avoid multiple missing episodes that will reduce the risk of harm to the individual. Every child who goes missing will be offered a return discussion, these are often completed by police officers.

Through our implementation project, Missing People UK are providing return discussion training for professionals across Scotland to enhance understanding of discussions and provide a missing person with wider alternatives to police officers, such as social workers, care staff, child protection officers and third sector organisations.

We are funding a National Missing People coordinator through our partnership with the Missing People charity to develop local multi- agency partnerships across Scotland and provide Return Discussion training for individuals and organisations to limit the likelihood of people going missing again.

The implementation of the Framework links with wider work such as the roll out of the Looked After And Accommodated Children Who go Missing From Residential And Foster Care protocol. The protocol has been piloted in local authorities since 2016 and established nationally from June 2021 by Police Scotland. The protocol is aimed at reducing the amount of instances when care experienced children are reported missing to the police using the knowledge and expertise of care staff and increasing personal responsibility and understanding of each young person. As understanding and use of the protocol has increased numbers of care experienced children reported missing has been reducing.

Further work is also taking place by Police Scotland to finalise the Philomena Protocol. This will enable a carer to store important, relevant information about a young person that can be shared and used to help Police Scotland locate and safely return a young person as quickly as possible when they have gone missing. When finalised later this year we will work with Police Scotland, local authorities, care providers and the Care Commission to implement the protocol.

We are continuing to engage with partners such as Barnardo's Scotland, Missing People UK and other third sector partners to explore experience of delivery, increase understanding of the return journey and build best practice to deliver more meaningful return home discussions after a missing episode. Our ambition is to establish multi agency partnerships for missing people in every local area in Scotland by 2025 that can focus on the specific missing issues in their locality.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will introduce a new Human Rights Bill during this parliamentary session including a continued commitment to a human-rights based approach to our public engagement
    • Later in 2022, we will consult on a strategy to better mainstream equality, inclusion and human rights across Government and the wider public sector;
    • Our consultation on the review of the operation of the Public Sector Equality Duty in Scotland ends in April, following which we will consider responses closely and engage with stakeholders further before introducing revised regulations to improve the regime.
  • We will listen to the voices of our communities and respond holistically and offer the opportunity to frame a more integrated approach to local transformation that is relevant to communities and is for the benefit of all the people who live there
    • We will work with COSLA to implement the Place Principle including investing £325 million through the Place Based Investment Programme; the Place Framework and the work of the Place Action Group
    • We will progress work focussed on supporting local level action to improve health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities, with a long-term preventative focus through our Place and Wellbeing Programme
    • We will scale the Social Innovation Partnership to promote and embed wellbeing and capability approaches across different service settings to create most holistic and person-centred practices
    • We will continue to invest in community based capacity programmes and work with our partners to reduce crime and Build Safer Communities through initiatives like the Violence Reduction and Cashback for Communities programmes
    • We will continue to involve our communities in planning of our neighbourhoods through Planning including Open Space Strategies, Play Sufficiency Assessments and Local Development Plan Regulations and the use of the Place Standard Tool
  • We will continue to reduce the number of care experienced young people who go missing through implementation of our Missing Persons Framework and our link up across Justice partners,Health services and Missing People UK

Link Up

The Link Up programme is Inspiring Scotland's community development and wellbeing programme operating in eight of Scotland's most deprived communities. Supported by Scottish Government since 2011, it seeks to tackle poverty and disadvantage by empowering local people to help themselves, each other, and their community.

Link Up is open to all irrespective of need, characteristic and where they are at in life. The programme's unique way of working engages the most vulnerable and least heard including families that have care experience or are at risk of their children being taken into care. The nature of the support Link Up provides varies from project to project and the particular circumstances of each family. The community based approach supports families who may be care experienced but also presents a proactive model that may provide support for families to help them to stay out of the care system.

Link Up workers take time to understand the lives of those they work with. However, they are also trained to identify and help people struggling with trauma, bereavement, suicide and violence; factors that so often result in engagement with the care system. Their understanding, assistance and encouragement to engage in social activities can be critical in supporting improved mental and physical health, familial relationships and increasing self-efficacy.

Example: Between 2018-21, Link Up workers in the Gorbals provided support to a young mum.
She had a chaotic upbringing and experienced early trauma. She had two children in her teens by different men, both of which were convicted of violent offences. The Link Up team provided a range of parenting and personal support that helped the woman to establish a weekly routine and stability (including creche and childcare); build relationships with a circle of local women who gave her peer support; provided practical help accessing clothing, food, birthdays & Christmas time support; and, organised support with benefit claims. The support culminated in one Link Up worker advocating for her at the Child Protection Committee, petitioning for a residential place at The Lillias Graham Parenting Capacity Assessment Centre which eventually saw the children staying with their mum and in 2021, seeing them removed from the child protection register.

Link Up local workers will often collaborate with other specialist support services to create a holistic response to the challenges faced by families. For example, in Whitfield (Dundee) Link Up partner with 'Kith n Kin' who run a weekly kinship care support group for the parents of several local families. Link Up regularly support 12-19 of the families with food provision through the community larder and Mission Christmas.

Link Up are seeking to implement a new model of support for vulnerable families (many care experienced or at risk) in the Gallatown, Kirkcaldy. Their aim is to embed a new worker in the Link Up team to serve as a bridge to connect vulnerable families already involved in Link Up activities with the specialist assistance offered through the local Health Visitor, Community Social Work and Criminal Justice Teams. This will provide families with the confidence to access specialist support. Equally, the project will offer an opportunity for these agencies to refer families past the point of crisis, to engage in Link Up activities. By helping them to participate in community life, Link Up's aspiration is to provide a sustainable path to recovery and prevent families falling back into crisis.

Chapter 6 The Role Of The Criminal Justice System

We know that there is disproportionate representation of our care experienced people within our prison population. Around a quarter of the prison population in Scotland report being in care as a child, rising to just under half when looking specifically at young people in custody.

The Hard Edges Scotland report published in 2019, told us how many people in contact with the criminal justice system have already experienced severe and multiple disadvantage, including homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health and domestic violence or abuse. Individuals from the 10% most deprived areas are over-represented in prison arrivals by a factor of three, a finding consistent across the last decade. By correlation, The Promise tells us that children living in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland are 20 times more likely to become care experienced than those in the 10% least deprived areas.

What The Scottish Government Is Doing To Support Change


Around 40% of young people in custody identify as being care experienced. As set out in The Visionfor Justice in Scotland, we will shift the balance to ensure the role of custody will be reserved only when no alternative is appropriate and begin a debate on who and what prison is for, including how to better accommodate individuals in the system from a trauma-informed perspective. We published a consultation in November 2021 setting out how custody in the criminal justice system should be used in the future, with a focus on how remand is used and how release from prison mechanisms operate. A loss of liberty through custody should only be used as a last resort especially for young people and only where there is clear justification, for example, a risk of serious harm. The responses to this consultation will inform a Bill which will be introduced before the summer Parliamentary recess this year.

The independent Scottish Sentencing Council has developed a sentencing of young people guidelines. Approved by the High Court, it came into force on 26 January 2022 and provides that the court should consider rehabilitation as the primary consideration when sentencing young people up to the age of 25. The development of this guideline reflects scientific research that shows the brain is not fully developed below that age. In finalising the guideline, the Council indicated independent research showed the public want rehabilitation to be a primary consideration when sentencing young people.

A Trauma Informed Approach

Through the work of the Victims Taskforce, informed directly by the voices and experiences of victims and survivors, we recognise the impacts of trauma on those coming into contact with the justice system. We are committed to developing a trauma informed and trauma responsive workforce. We will introduce a new framework, specific to the justice system, to give staff the knowledge and skills they need to understand and adopt a trauma informed approach, helping them to support all victims more compassionately. This work is currently being taken forward as part of the work for the Victims and Witnesses Taskforce by NHS Education for Scotland, in conjunction with the National Trauma Training Programme.

Where care experienced young people are in prison, we will take a trauma informed approach to support them.The Scottish Prison Service refreshed the Vision for Young People in Custody[14] in March 2021, recognising the need to adopt an approach to delivery for increasingly complex needs and risk. The intention of the Vision is 'to use the time a young person spends in custody to enable them to prepare for a positive future'and work to achieve this is being aligned with The Promise. Further information on the trauma based approach to supporting the workforce is set out in Chapter 15.

The Vision emphasises the centrality of relationships and relationship based approaches as a key factor to a young person's life chances; access to a range of specialist supports to address needs (e.g. support for trauma, bereavement and loss, speech, language and communication needs); provision of a very wide range of activities, including youth work, that will enable them to build their skills and where possible qualifications; individual support for young people, who have frequently been the most excluded in society, to engage in these activities. The Scottish Prison Service is currently working towards one overarching Mental Health Strategy with a series of outcomes that will reflect the needs of the whole population with the specific needs of young people weaved throughout the framework.

Children and the Justice System

The implementation of a national Bairns' Hoose model brings services together via a coordinated 'four rooms' approach designed to reduce the number of times children have to recount their experiences to different professionals and places the needs of the child at the centre across services. A key element of Barnahus is the child friendly setting and the whole team around the child with child protection, health, justice and recovery services all made available in a safe and welcoming environment.

All children in Scotland who have been victims or witnesses to abuse or violence, as well as children under the age of criminal responsibility whose behaviour has caused significant harm or abuse, will have access to trauma-informed recovery, support and justice.

We aim to prevent children being re-traumatised and to improve the quality of experience of child victims and witnesses in the justice system.

To achieve this, we are committed to funding the National Joint Investigative Interviewing Programme to support a three year national roll out of the new Scottish Child Interview Model for Joint Investigative Interviews (JIIs), which commenced on 1 April 2021.

This new approach to joint investigative interviewing is aimed at providing a higher quality of forensic interview that ensures best evidence for court, allowing more scope for this to be used as the whole or part of the evidence in chief of a child in court, and for civil proceedings such as children's hearings and local child protection services. The ultimate outcome is to keep children safe and ensure that they have the right to justice.

The principles of trauma-informed practice are woven through the new model and the underpinning training programme for interviewers with the needs and rights of children at the centre of their interview experience.

The key principles of the new Scottish Child Interview Model remain tangible to many other Scottish Government initiatives, including the commitment towards the Bairns' Hoose model. Successful national rollout of the new Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM) for Joint Investigative Interviews (JIIs) is considered a precondition for national Bairns' Hoose implementation.

Supporting Families

Recognising our commitment to keeping families together where it is safe to do so we aim to reduce the impact of family imprisonment through a range of ongoing work, including support for families of prisoners led through the Scottish Prison Service's family strategy. Where there is no alternative to custody, we know that imprisonment has a wider impact than just on the individual in custody.

There are an estimated 20,000 children who are affected by parental imprisonment each year in Scotland and many of them may be in care or care experienced.

Having a parent in prison is a recognised Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and is known to significantly impact long-term health and wellbeing and negatively affect both attainment in school and later life experiences. To support the mitigation of the impact of this:

  • Support Mothers and Babies in custody: The Scottish Prison Service Mother & baby policy takes a multi-agency approach to the decision- making process of actively promoting the wellbeing and positive life outcomes for babies whose mothers are held in their care. The prison service is actively updating this policy as part of transformative plans for the new female estate which will see a new national and two community custody units in Dundee and Glasgow by late 2022. A new model of support for women in custody will support this transformative new infrastructure. This new model will take into consideration the specific needs of women, including multi agency support for mothers and babies in custody and visit arrangements.
  • Support family contact and needs with a revised Scottish Prison Service Family
  • Strategy by end of 2022:The current Family Strategy sets out a clear direction for the improved delivery and alignment of family engagement and activities for people in custody and a focus on how the Scottish Prison Service can play its part in avoiding the intergenerational impact of parental imprisonment. A revision of this strategy in collaboration with key stakeholders will commence this year and will include direct feedback from families, children and young people about what they view as key areas of improvement and need.
  • New ways of delivering family support and contact for those in custody: Underpinning the family strategy is recognition that parents in prison must be supported to maintain contact with children and wider family. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the intermittent suspension of in-person visits, virtual visits and mobile phones were introduced into prisons in June 2020 and the use of these new methods of contact will continue to provide support to prisoners throughout the pandemic and are vital to ensure contact – enabling children of prison's to be read bedtime stories and feel the love of their parent even though they are in prison. A range of options are being explored by the prison service including how use of digital services can be used in the future to ensure family contact is maintained and how other areas of support and services for those in custody is provided.
  • Maintaining Prison Visitor Centres: We have allocated £800,000 for Prison Visitor Centres in 2022/23 Prison Visitor Centres work with the families of those in custody providing them with practical and emotional help with issues like prison visiting, food poverty and child-focussed support. Visitor Centres run a range of activities aimed at things like health promotion, maintaining family contact and raising awareness of avenues of supports that exist for families, and can make referrals for specialist support where it is needed for example with accessing benefits and housing support.

Community Justice

Ineffective short term prison sentences can lead to the unnecessary accommodation of children in the care system. While we are clear that use of custody is necessary for those who pose a risk of serious harm in order to protect the public and keep victims safe, we also recognise that imprisonment damages the connections that prevent people from offending or reoffending, such as family relationships, accommodation and employment. Short-term imprisonment, including remand, is not effective in addressing the underlying causes of offending and without proper support people can cycle back into the criminal justice system and prison.

In recognition of the disproportionate representation of care experienced within the prison population, we maintain a long term aim for imprisonment to only be used for those who pose a risk of serious harm and for community-based interventions to be the default for those who don't. This is a long-term objective with a number of steps on this journey. We are taking a number of short to medium actions to help refocus the use of custody within the criminal justice system. These actions include:

  • We will introduce a Bill by June 2022 to reform the law governing bail decisions and the mechanisms around prison release.
  • We provide around £119 million every year for community justice services. To support pandemic recovery work and contribute to the expansion and transformation of these services we have invested an additional £11.8 million in 2021-22, and we will increase this to £15 million in 2022-23. This includes specific additional investment in alternatives to remand services.
  • We continue to invest £3.7 million per annum in third sector voluntary through care services which support short term prisoners leaving prison by providing flexible, practical support to help them reintegrate successfully into their communities.
  • We will develop and launch a new National Community Justice Strategy in 2022, building on progress to date and setting out clear aims with an emphasis on early intervention and encouraging a further shift away from the use of custody.

Key Actions We Will Take

  • We will reduce the impact of family imprisonment through a range of ongoing work including:
    • multi agency support for mothers and babies in prison
    • transforming the female prison estate actively promoting the wellbeing and positive life outcomes for babies whose mothers are held in Scottish Prison Service care.
    • address specific needs of young people in custody
    • revision of the Scottish Prison Service Family Strategy
    • exploring new ways of delivering family support to those in custody
    • maintaining prison visitor centres
  • We will progress Legal Aid reform including more targeted provision to improve access to legally aided services in certain geographical areas or for groups with specific legal needs, such as care experienced children
  • 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.
  • We will take a trauma-informed approach to support people in prison and to reduce further trauma for our children and young people when they tell their story by providing resource and training to support a trauma-informed and trauma responsive workforce within the justice system and undertaking a national roll out of the Scottish Child Interview Model for Joint Investigative Interviews
  • We will introduce a Bill by June 2022 to reform the law governing bail decisions and the mechanisms around prison release and
    • increase investment in community based interventions and community sentences
    • invest in third sector voluntary throughcare services
    • develop and launch a new National Community Justice Strategy.



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