Children in Care (Support)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 27th October 2016.

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The First Minister:

We have taken action to modernise our children’s hearing system, to review secure care, to establish our youth justice improvement boards, to support kinship carers, to review learning and development opportunities for foster carers and residential work, and to support families who are on the edge of care. Those are just some of the things that we have already done; the list could go on. Improvements are being made: school exclusions, for example, are down and more young people are in permanent, rather than in temporary, placements.

When we look at the statistics for young people who experience care, none of us can be satisfied that we are yet doing enough, because those statistics are absolutely horrifying. When I speak to young people who are in care or who have been in care, as I have been doing a lot recently, they give me the simple message that the system works well to stop things happening to them. It should do that to some extent—we must have in place safeguards. However, the system does not always operate to make things happen for them. We need a system that ensures that, where young people cannot live with their own families, for whatever reason, and the state becomes their corporate parent, we give them a sense of family, a sense of belonging and a sense of love, and that the whole system operates to make sure that they can reach their full potential. That is what I am determined to do, but the Government cannot do it alone and Parliament cannot do it alone. We will succeed only if the review is driven by the experiences of young people in care. That is what will make the review unique.