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The Children's Panel - life changing

Response to Programme for Government 20 September 2019

The Scottish Government published its policy programme for the year ahead on 4 September in ‘Protecting Scotland’s Future: the Governments Programme for Scotland 2019 – 2020’.  In a wide-ranging programme with a focus on climate change and improving well-being, the First Minister also announced new policy commitments designed to strengthen support for care experienced people in Scotland throughout their lives. 

The Programme for Government promises:

  • to change the law to bring in a presumption that brothers and sisters in care should live together;
  • to extend care experienced students eligibility for bursaries beyond the age of 25 from the start of the 2020 academic year;
  • to offer to care experienced parents places in early childcare and education for their children, once their child reaches the age of two;
  • unconditional access to a Job Start payment for all care experienced people up until the age of 26 to help with the costs of starting work;
  • to remove dental charges for care experienced young people aged 18-26;
  • that local authorities will make available discretionary housing payments to help care experienced young people to keep up tenancies from April 2020.

Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) strongly welcomes these initiatives to address some of the challenges faced by young people particularly when approaching adulthood and independence.  Children’s Panel Members make critical decisions affecting the lives of young people and their families every day. Our volunteer community will work closely with local partners to raise awareness and take up of some these important new entitlements as they are introduced. In particular CHS welcomes the commitment to protect and maintain relationships between brothers and sisters in care, which are often crucial for long lasting well-being. 

The National Convener, Boyd McAdam, said “Every young person needs practical help and financial support when they’re starting out in life.  Care experienced people need that bit more, as young adults, to compensate for earlier adversity. As corporate parents, we have to make a practical difference for our care experienced  people when things get tough and these proposals are very welcome as evidence of a public commitment to do just that.’