Young People (Care)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 22 February 2024.

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Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the First Minister’s reported comments that it “has to go further” to ensure that plans to radically reform how young people are cared for in Scotland are realised, whether it has identified what steps it will take to achieve this. (S6O-03116)

Photo of Natalie Don Natalie Don Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is clear in its commitment to keep the Promise. We have made good progress but, of course, we can always go further. Action is under way across ministerial portfolios, including progress to stage 3 of the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill, engagement on our commitment to a £2,000 care leaver payment, and investment in prevention through whole family wellbeing.

In the past year, I have seen many great examples of transformational activity across Scotland in education, justice and children’s services. I have been clear that, where it is required, I want to see that best practice shared and replicated across Scotland.

The Scottish Government will publish a review of our Promise implementation plan this spring to update on the actions and commitments that are under way.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

Last Friday was care day, which is the biggest celebration of care-experienced children around the world. However, a recent report by Who Cares? Scotland assigns at least amber, if not red, to some of the things that we are trying to achieve. There was an absence rate of 83 per cent among social workers in one local authority and concerns have been expressed about restraint, informal school exclusions and data. Scotland will keep the Promise, but when will Scotland see the illuminated path to achieving it in the time that we have promised?

Photo of Natalie Don Natalie Don Scottish National Party

I thank the member for that question. Equally, I am thankful for the Who Cares? Scotland report, which highlights the areas where further work is required.

We are determined to drive forward the transformational change that is required to keep the Promise. I fully believe that the actions that the Government has taken, is taking and will take will help us to achieve that.

As well as the areas that I have already mentioned, and specifically in relation to Mr Whitfield’s points, we are seeing clear progress across a number of areas, such as an increase in the number of virtual headteachers across Scotland, which is a model that is showing real progress in reducing exclusions. We have also seen the publication of the hearings system working group’s redesign report “Hearings for Children” and I am sure that the member will be aware of the Government’s response to that. We have also seen progress on data. I am willing to discuss any areas of concern with the member.

The Presiding Officer:

That concludes general question time.

Before we move to First Minister’s question time, I invite members to join me in welcoming to the gallery Hanna Naber, President of the State Parliament of Lower Saxony. [