The Scottish government this week announced its plan will give all teenagers in care a “positive future”. The crux of the plan is that a number of Scotland’s most vulnerable children and young people are to be given greater degree of rights to remain in their foster placement ( or other type of placement ) into their early twenties. The Scottish government announced that the change would come into effect from April 2015.
The Children and Young People Bill (Scotland) will enable for teenagers in therapeutic, residential, foster or kinship care to retain their looked after status until the age of 21. Care leavers in Scotland currently receive support and financial help up to the age of 21 ( although many agencies report mixed success in achieving quality support and outcomes for looked after young adults in this area ) and have already promised to extend this to adults up to the age of 26 who have been in care and subsequently in education.
The provision is being achieved through the injection of £5m a year for these planned improvements as the Government in Scotland takes steps with partner agencies in the looked-after sector to provide young people in care with the same opportunities as that their average general population peers.
Many children’s agencies are enthused and supportive of the new measures, seeing them as bringing Scotland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, and necessary to recognise the lifelong vulnerability and disadvantage of growing up in are which blights the life chances of many. Whilst some young people in care are some of the most resilient young people in Scotland. They have to be given appropriate levels of support to recognise their greater vulnerability. The number care leavers who might benefit from the Government’s changes is not inconsiderable.
In the Scottish parliament the changes were, by many across the political spectrum, welcomed warmly.
Children and young people in Scotland face continued pressure in foster care. They also face immense change with the implementation of the new Children’s Hearings Bills, and burgeoning numbers of children in care. Local authorities are under continuing pressure to ensure quality standards are met, and quality outcomes are achieved. This in a time of financial restraint, and budgetary belt-tightening, the likes of which have not been seen for decades. Only time will tell whether better outcomes for looked-after children can be achieved in Scotland. What is true, is that without aspiration for better outcomes, not change in quality will be achieved.
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