Resource Type Policy & Legislation

Looked After and Accommodated Children

For information on the Independent Care Review, please see the dedicated policy page on The Promise.

Getting it Right for Looked After Children and Young People

The Scottish Government published the Getting it Right for Looked After Children and Young People strategy in 2015. Built on the principles of Getting it Right for Every Child, the strategy focuses on three strategic priorities - early engagement, early permanence and improving the quality of care.

Key actions for the Scottish Government include:

  • roll out of the Realigning Children's Services programme, sharing data and learning
  • use the Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE) programme to focus on earlier permanence for children who are looked after at home 
  • collect data on the changing profile of care placements, to be published so agencies can improve planning and practice 
  • consult on introducing a standard inter-agency fee for adoption 
  • convene a working group to evaluate a national allowance scheme for kinship and foster care

In its 2017-18 Programme for Government, the Scottish Government confirmed plans for the development of Secure Care National Standards and establishing a transformative model for secure care through a new Secure Care Strategic Board, which was due to report by the end of 2018. The new standards for secure care were published in 2020.

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 includes a number of provisions related to looked after children and young people which came into effect on 1 April 2015. As well as extending the age up to which formerly looked after children and young people may request access to aftercare assistance from 21 to 26, the Act also establishes 'continuing care', allowing looked after young people to stay in their placement beyond the age of 16 up to the age of 21.

Other provisions in the Act include establishing a list of public bodies to become 'Corporate Parents', a duty on local authorities to provide services to families with children at risk of becoming looked after, new support for kinship carers and placing Scotland‘s National Adoption Register on a statutory footing.

The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) is publishing a series of briefings on specific parts of the Act. 

  • The first briefing focuses on the changes related to ‘Aftercare’ and ‘Continuing Care’.
  • The second briefing looks at Part 12 of the Act, entitled ‘Services in relation to children at risk of becoming looked after.
  • The third briefing looks at Part 9 of the Act, entitled 'Corporate Parenting'.

The Scottish Government published Statutory Guidance for Part 9 (Corporate Parenting) of the Act. The first report reviewing Corporate Parenting activity between April 2015 and March 2018 was recently published. Based on information drawn from 124 Corporate Parenting Plans produced by public bodies in Scotland, the report considers how Corporate Parenting has been embraced under Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014  since the legislation was implemented. 

Guidance has been published by the Scottish Government on Part 10 (Aftercare) for managers and practitioners, working with looked after children and care leavers, and Part 11 (Continuing Care) outlining the new provision of continuing care.

National Inquiry into Historical Child Abuse

The Chair and remit of the National Statutory Inquiry into Historical Child Abuse in Care was announced by the Scottish Government in 2014. In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Education Secretary Angela Constance announced that Susan O’Brien QC would chair the Inquiry,  to investigate the nature and extent of abuse of children while in care in Scotland and to consider the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty to protect children in care in Scotland from abuse.

In addition to children formally placed 'in care' in institutions, the Inquiry has an extended remit to include allegations of abuse in foster care, in long-term hospital care and in boarding schools. Further information on the Inquiry and its progress can be found here.

The Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) was introduced by the Scottish Government on 13 August 2020. The Bill seeks to establish a financial redress scheme for and in respect of survivors of historical child abuse in certain residential care settings in Scotland. The Bill was passed on 11 March 2021. 

Fostering, Adoption & Kinship Care

A national review of foster care was completed in 2013, with a final report and six recommendations for improvements. A range of developments have followed, including:

A group of experts chaired by Chief Social Work Adviser Iona Colvin recently issued recommendations on the feasibility of introducing a national approach to care allowances for children living in foster, kinship and adoptive care. Work in this area will be carried out in alignment with the Independent Care Review.

There are plans to establish a kinship care collaborative and the Scottish Government will work with partners to take forward the recommendations of the National Review of Foster, Kinship and Adoption Care Allowances in 2020-2021.

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

statutory public inquiry to examine historical cases of abuse of children in care in Scotland was established on 1 October 2015. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has the power to compel witnesses to appear and give evidence and runs in parallel and complements the hearings of the National Confidential Forum. The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) is providing ongoing logistical support, input and advice throughout the process. The full text of the Inquiry Terms of Reference is available here.

The Rt Hon Lady Anne Smith was appointed Chair in July 2016. The Deputy First Minister made a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament to announce that the Inquiry terms of reference would be amended to make clear its scope includes the abuse of children in care wherever that occurred, though it will not be extended further to include all allegations of abuse in non-residential settings.

In June 2018, the Deputy First Minister announced that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will be given more time to complete its work and ensure survivors are heard. The Scottish Government agreed to a request from the Chair to remove the requirement from the terms of reference to report to Ministers within four years. The Inquiry will now report as soon as reasonably practicable.

The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Bill was introduced by the Scottish Government in November 2016 and received Royal Assent in 2017. The Act removes the three-year time limit on bringing civil cases to court, also known as a time-bar, and remove the limitation period for actions of damages in respect of personal injuries resulting from childhood abuse.

Useful Links

Further reading

Animal magic

A resource celebrating the amazing difference being around and caring for animals makes for many children and adults using a range of care services.

Bringing generations together

Good practice examples to give care services ideas on how to bring generations together in a variety of care settings in a way that improves the quality of their lives.

Health and Social Care Standards

The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland

Latest children and young people bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people.

Children & Young People Bulletin: 17 - 23 May 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 17 - 23 May 2024

Children & Young People Bulletin: 17 - 23 May 2024