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Scotland's care system is 'failing children and families', independent review says

First Minister of Scotland's Flickr

Scotland's care system is 'failing children and families', independent review says

The report urges ministers to rebalance power within the care system, by “listening to children and young people” and said that Scotland must “parent, not process”

The Scottish care system is “fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling” and is in need of a “radical overhaul” to better protect children, according to the findings of the Independent Care Review.

The report, compiled over the past three years based on over 5,500 interviews with children and adults with experience of the care system, as well as those who work in the sector, criticised the care system for costing the public billions of pounds annually while “letting down children and their families”.

It also published a ten-year plan for reshaping the system, alongside 80 things that need to change to “transform” how Scotland cares for children and young people

The review calculated that the services which deliver and surround the care system cost £1.2bn annually, with an additional £1.6bn in the costs associated with “letting down” children.

The report urges ministers to rebalance power within the care system, by “listening to children and young people” and said that Scotland must “parent, not process”.

Fiona Duncan, chair of the Independent Care Review said: “I have heard countless stories of when the care system gets it wrong; separation, trauma, stigma and pain.  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.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I would like to extend my thanks to Fiona Duncan and the review members for the work they have put into their final report and supporting documents as well as the individuals who shared their often extremely personal stories with the team.

“In 2016 I accepted a challenge to listen to the experiences of 1,000 looked-after young people because I knew the care system needed a transformation and I wanted to hear first-hand what had to change. These early conversations inspired me to announce an independent root-and-branch review of the care system.

“So for the first time ever the voices of people with experience of the care sector have been, and will continue to be, at the heart of shaping care policy. Over 5,500 people, including care experienced individuals and their families, as well as paid and unpaid care workers, took the time to discuss their thoughts, feelings and experiences to highlight where things are going well and where we need to improve.

“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.”

Read Mandy Rhodes on the failings of Scotland's care system and what should come from the review.

Read the most recent article written by Ailean Beaton - Bruce Crawford to step down at 2021 Scottish election

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Society & Welfare

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