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New strategy to improve services for looked after children.
New plans for looked after children will improve services and help ensure every child has a permanent home, the Children's Minister announced today (Thursday).
The Scottish Government's new Strategy for Looked After Children and Young People (LAC) will:
- ensure the right services are in place to support families as early as possible
- speed up decisions to reduce multiple placements and help all children have a permanent home
- provide better support matched to each child's needs
- benefit children who have traditionally been hard to place, such as those with additional support requirements
- introduce a degree qualification for residential staff and a mandatory learning and development framework for foster carers
- improve services and support organisations to meet the needs of children in care
Speaking at the Capita Conference for professionals working with young people in care, Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People said:
"When a child needs to go into foster, kinship or residential care they will have already faced significant challenges. Each and every looked after child deserves to be treated as an individual, with their needs and happiness the most important considerations.
"Our world-leading support for care leavers includes extending the age that young people can remain in care and receive financial support. To achieve this we are investing £9 million each year ensuring our care leavers have every chance to succeed.
"And we are seeing real progress. More young people are finding safe, stable homes earlier and educational attainment is improving but we want to do even more. This strategy brings together what's already working well across Scotland as we improve services and speed up decision making.
"We are also introducing new learning opportunities and qualifications for foster and residential carers so they have the right skills to support the children they care for.
"I am determined that this strategy will make sure every looked after child has a secure, loving home and supportive relationships with those want the very best for them."
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland, said:
"Statistically speaking, despite making up less than 1 per cent of Scotland's population, our looked after young people continue to be overrepresented in every social problem area. Evidence indicates that they make up 30 per cent of the homeless population. They are seven times more likely to be excluded from education than their non-looked after peers. They are more likely to see the inside of a prison, than the inside of a university.
"Who Cares? Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government's Strategy for Looked After Children and Young People. The Scottish Government has continued to listen to care experienced young people and their views have been represented within the Strategy. From the importance of relationships, to the need for long term, stable placements; the Strategy shows the continued commitment that the Scottish Government is making to improving the lives of Scotland's children. The key now is for this strategy to mean something in reality for every one of these children and it's all of Scotland's job to make that happen. These, after all, are Scotland's children."
Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive of Aberlour Child Care Trust, said:
"We have been hugely grateful to the Scottish Government for working closely with ourselves and other stakeholders to improve public policy across the looked after children agenda, by changing the age of leaving care to 21, by increasing support to care leavers and by actively considering a right to return to care. Together we are working towards transformational change that will improve the life outcomes of Scotland's looked after children."
There are more than 15,000 looked after children and young people cared for in Scotland.
The Scottish Government has also developed a mentoring scheme for looked after children and will shortly appoint an organisation to manage it.
Looked After Children Strategy
From April 2015 all children in residential, foster or kinship care are entitled to remain in their care setting until they reach the age of 21. This is in addition to extended financial support up to the age of 26 to help them move into independent living. The changes were introduced by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act which also brought in corporate parenting responsibilities for public bodies including local authorities, police, health boards, colleges and universities.