17 March 2022

New research shows more progress is needed to implement Continuing Care in Scotland

New research by CELCIS on Scotland’s policy of continuing care for young people has been published today, with recommendations to support the care system to make greater progress.

The aim of the study - ‘Continuing Care: An exploration of implementation’ - is to provide a clear picture of how continuing care is implemented and interpreted across Scotland, and what is it that enables and challenges the necessary improvements needed at national and local level to support children and young people to successfully transition to adulthood. The findings have significant importance for the Scottish Government, local authorities, care providers, and all who are involved in supporting young people.

Overall, it is clear from the research that while Continuing Care is not, at present, implemented consistently between, or within, local authorities, there is a clear desire from practitioners to have Continuing Care as the ‘default’ scenario for young people, and to support young people to understand their rights for their care to continue into young adulthood. The policy is core to how Scotland wants to ensure that children and young people in need of care and protection can feel secure and supported by ongoing caring relationships.

The recommendations cover what is needed to address culture and leadership, guidance, and practice, building on the good practice already taking place in some circumstances, and highlighting where improvements are needed. Incorporating knowledge about the importance of relationships, voice, rights, and stability to young people, gained from The Promise of the Independent Care Review, as well as other research, meeting the recommendations would ensure consistent and effective implementation.

Claire Burns, Director of CELCIS said:

“We know that Continuing Care, when implemented well, is the single most important factor in improving outcomes and life chances for care experienced young people.

“Continuing Care is not about unnecessary change for young people and adults leaving care – but it is about change in culture and practice. It means not moving a young person from their home environment. Not expecting carers to reduce the support they provide. Not rupturing established, trusted, and loving relationships between young people and their carers. Continuing Care is about providing consistency, predictability, and appropriate support as a young person develops and grows into adulthood.

“While many recommendations can be put into place quickly, implementing the necessary cultural change is both challenging and time consuming. Learning from improvement and implementation approaches highlights key aspects to attend to, including training, leadership and finance, coaching and data, and also includes giving practitioners the permission and space to make Continuing Care a reality. It is only through such actions that young people in Scotland will be given the same opportunities to succeed as their peers. We are ready to play our part, along with others, to make this a reality.”

‘Continuing Care: An exploration of implementation’ research paper with key recommendations and a briefing highlighting key findings from the research are available on the CELCIS website.

Read the report

Read the briefing