Although this is only a first step, TACT feels encouraged by the Scotland Independent Care Review’s initial report and how it plans to continue delivering change. This is our first response to that report, more in depth feedback will follow in due course.
The report makes clear that the care community will continue to be placed at the heart of the process, ensuring that care experienced people are taking a leading role in future decision-making. This is of course a must, as those who have experience with the care system are in the best place to know how to make the system better. They must take a leading role for any effective change to take place and succeed.
We support the commitment made to families being given help to overcome difficulties – children must stay in their families where they are safe and feel loved, if it is possible. And when entering the care system is necessary, we are delighted that the Care Review calls for brothers and sisters to stay together where safe to do so. TACT strongly shares this view and believes that far more work needs to be done to prevent the trauma caused by siblings being separated when entering care.
TACT welcomes the Care Review’s proposal that children must be supported to develop relationships with people in the workforce and wider community. These individuals in turn must also be supported to listen and be compassionate in their decision-making and care. And of course children, families and workforce must be supported by a system that is there when it is needed – the scaffolding of help, support and accountability must be ready and responsive when required.
Importantly, the review states Scotland must avoid the monetisation of the care of children and prevent the marketisation of care and make sure that its most vulnerable children are not profited from. Current Scottish legislation prevents fostering agencies which are profit-making from approving, reviewing and terminating the approval of foster carers. TACT would like to see the rest of the UK following the Scottish example. There is no place for profiting in how children are cared for, and we have long called for extending current legislation prohibiting private for profit companies from running child protection services to all of children’s social care services, and that surpluses generated should be re-invested in supporting children in placement.
The impact of language used in the care system has also been highlighted. TACT recognises the power of language, and how terminology can help to perpetuate stigma. That is why we launched “Language That Cares” in collaboration with care-experienced young people to create a glossary of preferred terms and help reshape language around the care system for the better.
There have been six previous reviews into the Scottish care system, and none of them brought about any fundamental and lasting change. These previous attempts suffered due to the absence of a practical road map for delivering change, a lack of collective buy-in from stakeholders, inadequate funding and overly restrictive rules inhibiting meaningful change.
What it is new about ‘The Plan’ is that it will be based on the principals of co-design and shared ownership – those with power and responsibility share the design of new approaches with those with direct lived experience of the current system. The thinking is that there would not be further need for reviews in the future because the care experienced community is going to continue to have a leading role during the design and implementation of the Plan – it is a ‘user-centred’ approach to service design. This is where the Independent oversight body with its minimum 50% membership of care experienced including its chair would come into play, overseeing and holding to account those responsible for making change.