Overhaul of care system needed, review concludes

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

A radical overhaul of Scotland’s care system is needed after it was found to be ‘fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling’ for children and families.

An Independent Care Review listened to more than 5,500 experiences. Over half were children and young people with experience of the care system, adults who have lived in care and their families. The rest came from the unpaid and paid workforce.

The in-depth examination found the system did not adequately value the voices and experiences of those in it.

The review calculated services that deliver and surround the care system cost £1.2bn annually. It also calculated costs of the care system letting down children and their families at £1.6bn.

The report has identified five foundations for change, with more than 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: voice of the children must be heard at all stages; what all families need to thrive; care, that builds childhoods for children who Scotland has responsibility; people, with a relentless focus on the importance of relationships; and scaffolding, so that the structure is there to support children and families when needed.

Fiona Duncan, Independent Care Review chair, 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.

‘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: ‘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.

‘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.’