A year ago, on 5 February 2020, the Independent Care Review published its conclusions. Of the seven reports, The Promise presented a vision for the Scotland we could have. The cornerstone of everything the Care Review did was the voices of thousands of care-experienced children, adults and families as well as the paid and unpaid workforce and their demand was that Scotland had to change so every child would grow up loved, safe and respected. The Care Review was no box-ticking exercise. The change it demanded was vast and urgently needed. Despite this, it was met with equally vast support and enthusiasm: from the care-experienced community, organisations and individuals across sectors and industries, politicians, community leaders and the press.
A small team was set up to drive the change so long overdue. There’s no doubt the pandemic has had an impact, but the progress outlined in the report called The Plan continues on schedule. The massive task of engaging and supporting all those who need to Keep The Promise has resulted in more than 100 organisations submitting their commitments for change. This includes all local authorities and community planning partnership, the Children’s Hearings Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration, the Care Inspectorate plus NHS trusts, charities and many many more. These are being pulled together into one single, multi-agency, cross-sector, collectively owned three-year Plan for Scotland, detailing what must happen for the promise to be kept. This will be supported by annual rolling Change Programmes detailing how this will happen, by who and when. The Oversight Board – a 20-strong assembly, more than half of whom have care experience, and who will hold Scotland to account – has been recruited and met as a group for the first time. The Promise Design School, which will pilot in the next couple of months, will give people with care experience the training and skills to collaborate and design public services. And The Promise Partnership, a £4m investment from the Scottish Government intended to deliver change in line with Scotland’s commitment to creating capacity in the ‘care system’ to Keep The Promise, opened applications on 1 February.
Scotland must understand that The Promise affects everyone, not just those with care experience. If Covid-19 has shown us anything, it’s when it comes to caring for children, there’s no ‘us and them’. All families can be vulnerable to crisis in different ways, even outside of a global pandemic, and all families go through tough times. But as with any crisis, people with care experience and everyone who has been failed by a ‘system’ are failed again, harder.
The inevitable introspection a lockdown brings, as well as school closures, NHS disruption and service reductions has spurred many of the parents and carers I’ve spoken to, to think not only about what they want for their own children’s future; but for children across the country. All parents and carers of children, from babies to young adults, have felt pressure over the last year and have thought ‘when we’re out the other side, my child will…’. Keeping The Promise will deliver this possibility and hope to every child and family, regardless of their circumstances. Yes, many of our national priorities are tied up with the pandemic, and rightly so, but Keeping The Promise is inextricably linked to those priorities – not an ‘added extra’ to them.
One year ago, Scotland committed to Keep The Promise and so many are taking the action needed to do so. But the Promise belongs to Scotland and it is for all of us to deliver. The change that Scotland’s children and families deserve is here and the time to be part of it is now.
Contact details, opportunities to get involved and more information about how to Keep The Promise can be found at www.thepromise.scot
Fiona Duncan is Chair of the Promise, the body responsible for ensuring the findings of the Independent Care Review are implemented, and CEO of Corra