The First Minister will be aware of the report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Scotland, “#Keeping the Promise to Infants, 0-3 Years”. It states that Scotland’s care system has a “baby blindspot”. It also states that, despite the fact that the youngest children are the most vulnerable to harm, the zero-to-three age group can often be overlooked, which is shocking, especially when a quarter of all child protection orders are for infants under 20 days old. It makes reference to the need to improve, support and redesign services in order to keep the Promise.
Given the public commitments by the former First Minister, what will the current First Minister do to ensure that the baby blindspot in Scotland is removed once and for all?
Roz McCall raises an important issue. She is right to scrutinise what the Government is going to do to keep the Promise. I made an unapologetic and unequivocal commitment in relation to this Government’s determination to keep the Promise. Of course, I have appointed a minister who has responsibility for keeping the Promise, and Natalie Don will report directly to me, as First Minister, on that issue.
The Government will lay out in detail what we can do for care-experienced young people. This Parliament has passed some relevant legislation on issues such as sibling separation, but what I heard from care-experienced young people in particular is that we need to go further in terms of the implementation of that legislation on the ground. Roz McCall rightly raises the issue of what the NSPCC refers to as the baby blindspot, and that is another issue that I am determined that we will do more on.
As I say, I give an unequivocal commitment that this Government will keep the Promise not just in relation to babies and young people, which is important, but in relation to care-experienced people, because care experience is lifelong.