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Resource Type Policy & Legislation

The Promise

Independent Care Review in Scotland

Fiona Duncan, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Foundations for Scotland, was appointed as Chair of the Independent Care Review in Scotland in February 2017. The review is examining underpinning legislation, practices, culture and ethos of the care system. The Review is designed to be driven and shaped by the evidence of care experienced young people and to propose changes to the care system that will improve outcomes and quality of life for young people.

The Independent Care Review recently entered the third stage covering June 2018 to Autumn 2019, and is using this 'Journey' stage to begin to deliver improvements for infants, children and young people who experience care. Different methods will be used and will involve a strength-based and appreciative approach to encourage and stimulate things that are already working well. Clear evidence of what works best for children and young people and their families is to be established but with a recognition that that relying on existing evidence will only deliver so much.

The Review published its final report and findings in February 2020.

The Promise

There are six reports resulting from the Independent Care Review:

  • the Promise (and a Pinky Promise for younger readers) which reflects what care experienced children and adults, families and the paid and unpaid workforce told the Care Review and what Scotland must do to “make sure its most vulnerable children feel loved and have the childhood they deserve”
  • the Plan explains how this change must happen
  • the Money and Follow the Money explains where funding should be invested
  • the Rules outlines the current legislative framework and how it must change
  • the five foundations for change 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
    • scaffolding, so that the structure is there to support children and families when needed.

The Review concludes that many young people are experiencing a “fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling” care system, and it calculates approximately £875m per year has been spent resolving earlier failures in the system, including on mental health, addiction and homelessness services – which a higher proportion of care leavers require as adults.

The Review’s findings include: brothers and sisters have been regularly separated within the system with no say about future contact; care has become monetised and focused on competition rather than collaboration; children who have gone through secure care feel restraint has been used as a punishment; and there is an overworked and stressed workforce.

The final report includes additional conclusions on Children's Hearings, access to data, mental health support, and inspection and regulation.

Scottish Government commitments

Addressing the Review findings in its Programme for Government 2020-2021, the Scottish Government committed to taking three key steps:

  • Create a structure that can facilitate the re‑design of whole system approaches to care and support, starting with embedding the commitments already made to care experienced people into policy and delivery, with significant and intensive work across the entirety of government policy.
  • Establish an Oversight Board, led by Fiona Duncan, to hold the Scottish Government to account. At least half of the members of the Oversight Board will be care experienced.
  • A dedicated, independent ‘Promise Team’ and £4 million investment in the Promise Partnership which will help embed and scale‑up holistic family support.


Plan 21-24

Plan 21-24 outlines Scotland’s route map, providing key priorities and areas of focus under which organisations will work to achieve the required change over the next three years.

The first of three plans to be published on the back of the Independent Care Review, Plan 21-24 sets out what will change between now and 2030 to fully implement the conclusions and ensure The Promise is kept.

The five priority areas and key milestones for Plan 21-24 are:

  • The right to a childhood
  • Whole family support
  • Supporting the workforce
  • Planning
  • Building capacity

The Change Programme will be published at the end of May. It will outline who and what need to work together to drive towards the changes needed in Plan 21-24.