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The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

This Act is the most significant piece of children's legislation in Scotland in recent years. On this page you'll find a range of information and resources to help support individuals and organisations in understanding and implementing the changes required in the Act.

On 27 March 2014, the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) became law. And with 18 constituent Parts, the Act introduces significant changes that will impact on every aspect of children's services and on all stages of a child's life, from birth well into adulthood. Every publicly funded organisation whose work relates to children and young people is affected, and for those working with looked after children and care leavers, reforms are broad and substantial. 

Some changes have already come into force, with the remainder being introduced over the next two to three years.

The Act: making Scotland the best place to grow up

Scottish Government's vision is to make Scotland the best place to grow up, and the Act is an integral step toward achieving this vision. The changes in the Act will help facilitate a shift in public services towards the early years of a child's life, and towards early intervention whenever a family or young person needs help.

The Act draws attention to the whole child, and their entire journey through care and beyond by focusing on children at risk of becoming looked after through to the introduction of Continuing Care and the extension of those eligible for Aftercare. This is critical for us because we know that efforts to ensure equality of opportunity for Scotland's looked after children and care leavers can be seriously undermined if they experience early and ongoing disadvantage in terms of their physical, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing.

Important changes for looked after children 

From the perspective of looked after children and care leavers in Scotland, the Act introduces a number of important changes, including:

  • 600 hours of free early learning and child care for all two year olds who are looked after or secured with friends or relatives through a Kinship Care Order (Part 6, sections 47 and 48)
  • Corporate parenting duties for certain individuals and organisations (Part 9)
  • Extended eligibility for Aftercare assistance up to the age of 25; a new duty on local authorities to report on the death of a young person in receipt of Aftercare services (Part 10)
  • Introduction of Continuing Care, providing certain care leavers with the opportunity to continue with the accommodation and assistance they were provided with immediately before they ceased to be looked after (Part 11)
  • Support for children at risk of becoming looked after (Part 12)
  • Assistance for applicants and holders of a Kinship Care Order (Part 13)
  • Use of Scotland's Adoption Register made a duty for all adoption agencies (Part 14).

Looked after children: a priority for public bodies

The Act makes looked after children a priority for a host of publicly funded bodies by naming them as Corporate Parents. We know that tackling issues important to looked after children and young people, such as poverty, early school leaving, poor health and exclusion needs a combined effort. We also know addressing these issues decisively requires joined-up thinking and clever resourcing.

Briefings on the Act

Looking for support?

We offer support to public bodies to help them meet the new duties and responsibilities in the Act.

Get in touch with our policy team; they'd be delighted to hear from you.

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What is corporate parenting?

Our Inform briefing will help you understand Part 9 (Corporate Parenting); it examines and explains each section, and highlights the practical implications of the legislative provisions.

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What is Aftercare and Continuing Care?

Our Inform briefing will help you understand Parts 10 and 11; it explains the new rights and responsibilities, and the new substantive reforms the children's sector has faced in many years.

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What services should be provided to children?

Our Inform briefing will help you understand Part 12 which aims to ensure that a range of 'relevant services' is available to children (and their families) at risk of becoming 'looked after'.

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