I am delighted to introduce this Staying Put Scotland guidance, which has been produced as a result of work undertaken on behalf of the Looked After Children Strategic Implementation Group. The transition to independence is one where young people are particularly vulnerable and corporate parents must ensure that the right supports are in place to improve the outcomes for looked after children. Although there have been significant improvements in outcomes for care leavers there is still some way to go and this guidance has been prepared to support practitioners and managers in continuing this improvement. It will contribute towards a necessary cultural change in the way we approach working with care leavers in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring all children have the chance to fulfil their potential and believes there should be no difference between the outcomes of young people in care and their peers. As corporate parents our attitude should be that "these children are my responsibility, are in my care, and I need to do the best for them that I possibly can".
Continuity of care and consistent relationships are clearly evidenced in this paper as crucial in supporting care leavers. We need to take action now to address these needs, in order that we can achieve the Scottish Government's aspiration to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. Young people leaving care should get the support they need to secure a positive and sustained transition into adulthood. This should be when they are ready to do so and there should be mechanisms in place to allow them to return to their last care placement for support in times of difficulty. The aim of the throughcare and aftercare process is not to push young people into the adult world before they are ready, but to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills when the time is right for them to move to adult living.
The Children and Young People Bill proposes increasing the age care leavers receive aftercare support to 25 years based on an assessment of the young person's needs. Advice, guidance and assistance must be provided if appropriate. This provides support more in line with the experiences of the general population. This guidance document sets out explicitly the values and principles that underpin the intent of the Bill. It was produced in collaboration with a number of organisations and stakeholders and I would like to thank everyone involved for their contribution.
Minister for Children and Young People