The humane and economic cost of care in Scotland has been calculated for the first time
The Independent Care Review (The Care Review) has today (February 5) called for a radical overhaul of Scotland’s care system following an investigation into the cost of the current provision and its failures.
Unprecedented in scope, methodology and model, The Care Review includes more than 5,500 experiences, half of which were from children and young people with experience of the care system. As well as adults who have lived in care, their families and unpaid and paid members of the workforce.
A spokesman for The Care Review said the in-depth examination has revealed a system that is fractured, bureaucratic and unfeeling for far too many children and families, that doesn’t adequately value the voices and experiences of those in it.
It found the services which deliver and surround the care system cost £1.2 bn annually, this includes children and families support services and the delivery of other universal services, like education and mental health to children in care.
While the care system failings cost £1.6 billion, a combination of £875 million in meeting the needs care experienced people have as a result of the care system letting them down and £732 million in lost income tax and national insurance.
As a result, The Care Review is demanding that the balance of power be upended so that listening to children and young people is always the basis of all decisions made about their lives.
It is also calling for a focus on building and maintaining life-long relationships, including a broader understanding of the risk of not having long term, loving relationships.
It said Scotland must parent, not process, children so there is no difference between the lives of children in care and their peers. Adding that care experienced children must not miss out on the kind of childhood that many take for granted and the future that all our young people deserve.
And that families must be kept together wherever it is safe to do so and must get the support that is right for them at the earliest opportunity.
The Care Review has also published The Plan, an approach to implementation plotted out over 10 years whilst demanding urgency is maintained in the pace of change.
Fiona Duncan, chair of the Independent Care Review said: ‘I have heard countless stories of when the care system gets it wrong; separation, trauma, stigma and pain. Too many childhoods have been lost to a system that serves its own convenience rather than those within it.
‘The Care Review has listened to what care experienced people have said needs to change and those voices have driven its work and underpins its conclusions.
‘It has sought to understand how the system feels to those who live and work in and around it. And it has produced the what, how, why and when of what needs to happen next.
‘This is a radical blueprint for a country that loves, nurtures and cherishes its children. This is Scotland’s chance to care for its children, the way all good parents should.’
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘In 2016 I accepted a challenge to listen to the experiences of 1,000 looked-after young people because I knew the care system needed a transformation and I wanted to hear first-hand what had to change.
‘These early conversations inspired me to announce an independent root-and-branch review of the care system.
‘So for the first time ever the voices of people with experience of the care sector have been, and will continue to be, at the heart of shaping care policy.
‘Over 5,500 people, including care experienced individuals and their families, as well as paid and unpaid care workers, took the time to discuss their thoughts, feelings and experiences to highlight where things are going well and where we need to improve.
‘I have had the privilege of meeting many young people with experience of care who are doing extremely well, I have also been given the chance to see the dedication, commitment and passion of those who work in the care sector.
‘But I’ve also heard some extremely difficult stories which portray the care sector as bureaucratic and even unfeeling.
‘It is clear that despite the efforts of those within the system, the actual experience of too many people in care is not what we want it to be.
‘We will keep listening to and working with care experienced people because the case for transformational change is now unarguable and their voice must shape that change.
‘We will work with them and with local authorities, care providers and others to deliver that change as quickly and as safely as possible.’
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