Holyrood Committee asks has life improved for children in care?


How life has changed for the thousands of Scottish children in care will be examined by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee when it hears evidence from care leavers next week (5 August 2014).

Improving outcomes for children in care has been the focus of much of the Committee’s work over the past two years. This has included inquiries into the educational attainment of children in care, and decision making on whether to take children into care. 

The Committee also recently scrutinised the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which contains measures aimed at improving the lives of children in care, such as extending aftercare provisions.  

Nearly a year after completing its inquiry into decision making on children in care, the Committee will revisit the issue to ask whether outcomes for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people are improving. 

Committee Convener Stewart Maxwell MSP said: 

“Our recent inquiries have been heavily shaped by the children and young people we spoke to, many of whom had harrowing stories to tell. We discovered that young people in care often experience poorer outcomes than their peers, including lower levels of educational attainment.  

“We recommended a series of improvements to the decision-making processes around child protection, and called on the Scottish Government  to establish a shared vision of what success would look like for children in care and to build resources around that vision. 

“The Scottish Government listened to what we had to say and set out a range of reforms that it and other bodies are undertaking to try to provide better support to children in care. 

“We want to hear whether these changes have actually made a difference to the lives of the thousands of children and young people in care across Scotland.  We want to know whether their outcomes are improving and whether they are now always at the centre of the decision-making processes. The problems described to us were never going to be easy to solve, so it is vital that we hear directly from those with experience of being in care.”  

Speaking ahead of giving evidence next week and reflecting on what the Committee work to date has meant to her, Ashley Cameron, a young care leaver, said:  

“The difference that the Education and Culture Committee has made to the lives of care experienced by young people in Scotland cannot be overstated. They gave young people a platform to share stories and experiences so that we might make things better.

“What the Committee did also felt different. It took evidence in an accessible and thoughtful way. Members visited young people in a safe space and got to know us. We got to know them. 

“Everything that has happened since giving evidence shows that the Committee members have listened. They raised our voice through the passing of the Children and Young People Act and when the time came, they were our voice in the debating chamber. They took the stories that we found hard to share and championed us. They acted as our advocates in Parliament and ensured that we were included.” 

At the meeting on 5 August, the Committee will take evidence from care leavers and Who Cares? Scotland, the national voluntary organisation that provides support for children and young people with experience of care up to the age of 25. 

The Committee will receive a further update from the Scottish Government on 12 August. 


A full list of witnesses for 5 August is available here: 


During its inquiry into the educational attainment of looked after children the Committee found a stark educational gap in the achievement of looked after children when compared with other children.  While 56% of school leavers gained five or more qualifications, only 4.7% of children looked after away from home and 0.5% of children looked after at home achieved the same results. A copy of that report (31 May 2012) can be found at:  


In June 2012 the Committee launched a more in-depth inquiry into the decision-making processes involved in deciding whether to take a child into care. The Committee’s report stated that too many of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people had been left in unsuitable home environments when they should have been taken into care.  The report also said that the various reforms being made to the child protection system must deliver better outcomes for children and their families.  A copy of the Committee’s final report (October 2013) can be found here: 


The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, passed in February 2014, contains various measures aimed at improving the lives of children across the country. Of particular relevance to this meeting are:

  • The right to aftercare support available to all care leavers to be extended from those up to the age of 21 to those aged up to 26.
  • All young people in care born after April 1999 to have the right to stay in foster, kinship or residential care until the age of 21.


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