Lives are being lost to a system that is fractured and bureaucratic, an independent review of care in Scotland has found
A radical revamp of care in Scotland is needed to ensure children are not lost to the system.
The long-awaited Independent Care Review was published this morning, following a three-year investigation where 5,500 were quizzed about their experiences of the system.
There are about 15,000 children in Scotland’s care system, however the review found many of them were subjected to a system that was fractured and bureaucratic.
The review calculated the costs of the children and their families being let down at £1.6 billion; a combination of £875 million in meeting the needs care experienced people have as a result of the system failing them and £732 million in lost income tax and national insurance.
“I have heard countless stories of when the care system gets it wrong; separation, trauma, stigma and pain, said chair of the review Fiona Duncan.
“Too many childhoods have been lost to a system that serves its own convenience rather than those within it.
“The care review has listened to what care experienced people have said needs to change and those voices have driven its work and underpins its conclusions.
“It has sought to understand how the system feels to those who live and work in and around it. And it has produced the what, how, why and when of what needs to happen next.
“This is a radical blueprint for a country that loves, nurtures and cherishes its children. This is Scotland's chance to care for its children, the way all good parents should.”
Duncan Dunlop, of Who Cares? Scotland, said it is vital that action is taken to ensure that further lives are not lost.
He said: “Care experienced people are capable, thoughtful and have enormous potential. What we have seen, unfortunately, are generations of people living with the consequences of a care system that focused on containing them then leaving them, rather than ensuring that they are loved and supported forever. We have also seen Scotland struggle to connect with how it can support Care Experienced people. With that in mind, we will now take the necessary time to reflect on the findings that have been published today and consider in what ways the recommendations realise our ambitions for change.
“In January, the Care Inspectorate published figures on the early deaths of care experienced people. They said that between 2012 and 2018, 36 people in the care of the state died unexpected or untimely death. We know from our own networks that this is an under-representation, with six young Care Experienced people in our network dying in December 2019 alone. The evidence shows that what the Scottish Government chooses to do next is literally a matter of life and death. We expect to see urgent action, in the next few weeks, that makes a tangible difference to young people’s lives. Any further delay would be unacceptable.”
The independent review, which was instigated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP conference in 2016, spoke to 5,500 people - more than half of whom had been in care themselves.
The review calculated that services which deliver and surround the care system cost £1.2 billion annually – this includes children and families support services; Children’s Panels; Children’s Hearings Scotland; Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration as well as delivery of other universal services like education and mental health to children in care.
The report has identified five foundations for change, with over 80 specific changes that must be made to transform how Scotland cares for children and families as well as the unpaid and paid workforce.
The five foundations are: 1) voice of the children must be heard at all stages; 2) what all families need to thrive; 3) care, that builds childhoods for children who Scotland has responsibility 4) people, with a relentless focus on the importance of relationships and 5) scaffolding, so that the structure is there to support children and families when needed.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I have had the privilege of meeting many young people with experience of care who are doing extremely well, I have also been given the chance to see the dedication, commitment and passion of those who work in the care sector.
“But I’ve also heard some extremely difficult stories which portray the care sector as bureaucratic and even unfeeling.
“It is clear that despite the efforts of those within the system, the actual experience of too many people in care is not what we want it to be.
“We will keep listening to and working with care experienced people because the case for transformational change is now unarguable and their voice must shape that change. We will work with them and with local authorities, care providers and others to deliver that change as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Action for Children director for Scotland Paul Carberry said: “I am pleased to see the importance given to early family support. It should be our collective ambition to live in a country where no child or young person is in care, as they would be living safely and happily with their birth parents and families. We recognise that where care is needed, we have a great opportunity to address parts of the care system which are failing our young people."