£4m to fund early intervention and family support has been announced (16 July) in a Ministerial Statement by the Deputy First Minister as he updated the Scottish Parliament on next steps in response to the Independent Care Review and the implementation of The Promise.
The Scottish Government also confirmed that the recruitment process for the oversight board for The Promise is due to begin soon, with a support team which includes some of the previous Care Review team to support the Chair, Fiona Duncan; made a commitment to ensuring that the voice of care experience remains at the heart of the work taken forward; explained that the Chair has joined the Scottish Government and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers’ joint children and families collective leadership group considering the impacts of the pandemic on children, young people and families; and announced that Children’s Hearings Scotland will be consulting young people, and those who support them, on its new ‘Children’s Rights and Inclusion Strategy’.
Announcing the new Promise Fund, John Swinney told MSPs:
“Above all, we need to recognise that all families, including kinship, adoptive and foster families, need support sometimes. The leadership group has developed a vision and a blueprint that are focused on supporting local services to build on what is working for families in their areas, and on supporting the sector to find new solutions where families’ needs are not being met. I am grateful to the leadership group for taking forward that work.
“How we turn the blueprint into a reality is our next challenge, and it will be a key early step in the implementation of ‘The Promise’. I am pleased that the promise team will be working with the Scottish Government to drive forward a programme of action based on the group’s recommendations, and I am especially pleased to announce that we have identified initial funding of £4 million to make some early progress on those ambitions.
“This money will be the first investment in the promise fund, which is being established to support early intervention and prevention work across Scotland in line with the implementation of ‘The Promise’. The need for change was already urgent, and the current situation means that Scotland’s families need support now.
“We all recognise the need for on-going service delivery throughout the process of service redesign. Scotland’s families cannot be left waiting for a better reality to come. The promise fund will provide start-up funding to enable preventative action and early intervention approaches to be put in place. Over time, the work that is funded by the promise fund will become a key part of our new normal: a normal which supports families where they need it, when they need it and for as long as they need it, and listens to them when they speak.
“Now is the time for bold, decisive and collective action. We are perfectly placed to collaborate to change the nature and culture of our approach across all Scotland’s support services, not simply polish the existing system. To do that, we must all remain accountable to those with lived experience of care.”
Responding to the announcement, Claire Burns, Director (Acting), CELCIS, said:
“We very much welcome this announcement. Family support is integral to how we can best help our children, young people and their families. This is a central call of the Independent Care Review and, as we continue to listen to the voices of care experienced young people, meet their needs and uphold their rights, we look forward to working with others to implement ways in which this investment can begin to take us all some way to realising The Promise.
“The timing is also very welcome. Just this morning [16 July] the Children and Young People's Commissioner recommended that in light of the independent assessment of children’s rights on the response to COVID-19 in Scotland published today, there needed to be additional resources for early intervention and family support approaches to mitigate against more children needing care and protection as a result of failure to address needs relating to the pandemic and poverty.”