‘Believe in Us’ Care Experienced parents’ calls for change

We believe every parent should have the right to high-quality support as and when they need it. We recognise the power of positive, supportive professionals and know this is already experienced by many Care Experienced parents. However, we need to ensure this is a consistent experience across all communities. Together, with Care Experienced parents and our National Representative Body, we have created 11 recommendations for change.

Evidence from years of independent advocacy and participation work has demonstrated to us the challenges facing Care Experienced parents. As part of our Annual Participation Programme, Care Experienced parents shared their opinions on the support they received during their parenting journey, as well as ideas for positive changes they would like to see happen in Scotland.

You can read the report in full here: ‘Believe in Us’ Care Experienced parents findings from our Annual Participation Programme.

(If you would like an easy-read or alternative version of this report for accessibility, please contact policy@whocaresscotland.org)

Content note: some views and experiences shared in this report are sensitive and may be difficult to read. Please be conscious of how you feel before reading the report and step away when you need to. We have included a page at the end of the report which signposts some support services. You can also contact the Who Cares? Scotland Helpline if you would like to discuss any feelings that may arise from the report, or if would like support around any of the themes discussed.

What did we find out?

We have highlighted some of our main findings in the graphic below. This includes, among other findings, the impact of discrimination against Care Experienced people, lack of confidence in existing support structures, and having few places to connect with other Care Experienced parents.

Why Care Experienced parents?

All families need support to raise children in our communities, whether that is access to affordable childcare, connecting with other parents who understand the highs and lows of parenting, or receiving the right care and support from our NHS and other services essential to keeping families happy and healthy.

However, for Care Experienced parents, special consideration is required when thinking about the support they might need. We know this as Care Experienced people we work alongside have consistently told us about the need to focus on the issues which impact them in their parenting journey.

We know Care Experienced parents can face discrimination as a result of stigma and a lack of support. Care Experienced parents also experienced increased scrutiny from statutory services, which can be difficult to navigate. Instead, they want to see support which collaboratively builds confidence and provides what the family needs to be happy and healthy together.

What could the future look like?

Following consultation with almost 50 Care Experienced parents, we have shaped 11 recommendations alongside our National Representative Body. These changes offer tangible ways to ensure Care Experienced parents receive a consistently positive and supportive experience when they access professional services and supports.

  1. The Scottish Government should explicitly name Care Experienced parents in the work of the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Programme Board and create specific pathways to proactively offer access to these services.
  1. The Promise’s Whole Family Support work in ‘Change Programme One’ should recognise the specific needs of Care Experienced parents and support creating funding streams for Care Experienced parent-focused projects.
  1. As ‘Corporate Grandparents’, 2 local authorities and COSLA must recognise the needs of Care Experienced parents as a strategic priority when implementing The Promise.
  1. The lifelong impact of Care Experience must be recognised in the provision of any support for Care Experienced parents, by ensuring no age cut-offs.
  1. The Scottish Government must recognise Care Experienced parents by including specific actions in their ‘Best start: five-year plan for maternity and neonatal care.’
  1. Training must be co-designed with Care Experienced people about how to best support Care Experienced parents of all ages.
  1. All training and practice improvement work to better support Care Experienced parents must explicitly link with training on trauma-informed practice by NHS Education for Scotland.
  1. Local authorities and the Scottish Government should sustainably fund specific peer groups and parenting support spaces for Care Experienced parents in each local authority area.
  1. Social Security Scotland and the Scottish Government must make sure all Care Experienced parents have the financial and practical support they need.
  1. Focused work must take place to prevent children from being separated from Care Experienced parents, as part of realising The Promise’s ‘Change Programme One’ focus on ‘Whole Family Support’.
  1. Further research must take place to understand the frequency of children being removed from Care Experienced parents in Scotland, as has been undertaken by researchers in Wales.

What’s next?

If Scotland ensures these 11 recommendations are met, and we secure commitment from those who we know have the power to make this happen, we can create a future where Care Experienced parents receive high-quality support as and when they need it.

“The Care Experienced community need people to believe in them, who are willing and able to recognise and respond to their needs, so they can be the best parents that they can be to their children.” Amie Tait, National Representative Body

We will share these findings with Corporate Parents, the Scottish Government, Local Authorities, The Promise and other key decision-makers who have the power to make these changes.

This will include influencing areas including, but not limited to:

Thank you again to every person who has shared their parenting journey with us. Whether this year as part of the Annual Programme, or in the past, this has helped us shape a national evidence base of what our members think and feel about this important area!

If you have any questions about the Annual Participation Programme or want to get more involved, please e-mail us at policy@whocaresscotland.org, or speak to your WC?S worker.

With thanks to Scottish Local Authorities, funding partners and donors who make our work possible.