Published on
28 January 2020

Our Director of Barnardo's Scotland, Martin Crewe, talks about what the Independent Care Review could mean for the care system in Scotland. 

On 5 February the Independent Care Review will publish its conclusions. This will be the culmination of nearly three years of consultation with people across Scotland. Over 5,500 individuals with personal and professional experience of the ‘care system’ shared their experiences – including many from Barnardo’s Scotland.

This has been an incredibly ambitious undertaking, both in terms of the process and the intended outcome: “to deliver lasting change in the care system and leave a legacy that will transform the life chances and wellbeing of infants, children and young people in care in Scotland”.

We are obviously supportive of this ambition but we also know the challenges involved in delivering such a transformation. In partnership with Who Cares? Scotland and Aberlour, we secured amendments to the Children & Young People Act 2014 that legislated for aftercare support until care leavers turn 26. This was a great policy triumph but the implementation across Scotland is still patchy. We therefore will want the review to put forward both high ambitions and solid plans for how improvements can be delivered on the ground.

One particularly noticeable feature of the review has been that each of the 10 workstreams has been co-chaired by someone with personal experience of being in care.  Fiona Duncan, the review chair, also has a care background. This personal investment has led to a real passion and this comes across in the focus of the review workstreams which include love, rights and stigma. 

The detailed conclusions will be under wraps until the launch date but there is no doubt that this will be a ‘root and branch’ review. For this reason it is likely that the review will present a long term plan for system change rather than a whole list of quick wins. Even fairly uncontroversial proposals like keeping siblings together when they are taken into care have to be carefully thought through to avoid unintended consequences.

Interest in the results of the review will be widespread – both within Scotland and beyond. Scottish ministers from Nicola Sturgeon down, and politicians from across the spectrum, have been heavily involved in the care review process and I believe there will be a great political commitment to implementing the changes.

One thing is for sure – 5 February will be an important date for the diary!