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Implementing the Promise to improve care system taking too long, warns charity

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the Who Cares? Scotland office in Glasgow as the Promise was unveiled in February 2020 (Jane Barlow/PA)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a visit to the Who Cares? Scotland office in Glasgow as the Promise was unveiled in February 2020 (Jane Barlow/PA)

Promised changes to how looked-after children are cared for are taking too long, a charity has said.

The Promise was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2020 following a root-and-branch review of the care system in Scotland.

It was intended to be “a clear statement of what needs to change to support the lives and wellbeing of our children, young people, adults and families across Scotland”.

But Who Cares? Scotland says the timeline for implementing the Promise is “unclear” and implementation is taking “too long”.

The charity has spoken to many of its 3,600 members to produce a report called Paving The Way, which examines the Scottish Government’s progress since February 2020.

Louise Hunter, Who Cares? Scotland chief executive, said: “We have been patiently waiting for the promised change for care-experienced people. A key part of this change was the Scottish Government’s implementation plan.

“While there are many positives in the report with indications of much-needed change around how we keep families together and the support we provide young people leaving formal care settings, we have some concerns.”

Ms Hunter said care-experienced adults have “all but been missed” from the plan.

“At present, the timeline for this plan is unclear,” she said. “It’s vital that we don’t run the risk of older care-experienced people becoming a forgotten generation.

“We will continue to monitor and report on the Scottish Government’s implementation plan and will do so through a number of consultation events with some of our over 3,500 care-experienced members across the country leading up to the reading of the Promise Scotland Bill.”

Members of the charity also say it is unclear who is responsible for making the changes to the care system.

Who Cares? Scotland will continue to engage with members over the coming months through regional forums.

Ms Hunter added: “We would welcome direct participation from interested parties and will continue to share the feedback and recommendations from these events in further interim reports, providing a final report ahead of the Promise Bill being shared with the Scottish Parliament.

“If Scotland is to #KeepThePromise by 2030, collectively, we must listen to the people who will be directly impacted by the changes.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to Keeping The Promise by 2030 – ensuring that all children grow up loved, safe and respected so they reach their full potential.

“The Promise implementation plan sets out over 80 actions that the Scottish Government will take to deliver change as quickly as possible. Our investment of £500 million in whole family wellbeing will help keep more families together and provide support for care-experienced adults, including our care experience grant.

“We will carefully consider the feedback given in the Who Cares? Scotland report and, alongside The Promise Scotland, the care community, local government and others, we continue to build on work that is already under way to improve the lives of children, young people, adults and families in and around the edges of care.”