Next First Minister is told: “Be our parent”
Who Cares? Scotland, the charity that works with young people who have been brought up in care, has launched a first of its kind manifesto with a simple ask of the next First Minister: we’re your children, so listen to us.
Their manifesto and campaign, entitled “1000 Voices” is an ambition to make Scotland the most caring nation on Earth and calls on the next First Minster of Scotland to meet 1000 care experienced people and then act on what they have heard. The campaign currently has the backing of Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie.
The charity hopes that after listening to those stories and understanding what life in care is like, the next First Minister of Scotland will make it their priority to end the terrible outcomes that young people in care face. These outcomes include:
- Nearly half of 5-17 year olds living in care are diagnosed as having a mental health disorder.
- 7% of young people in care go from high school to university, compared to 39% of other young people.
- 50% of prisoners identified as having been in care at some point in their life.
- 85% of young people in care leave school before the age of 16.
- 90% of young people are taken into care because they experience neglect and abuse and at present, there are 15, 580 young people in care in Scotland.  In April 2015, the Children and Young People Act (Scotland) came into effect and it named Scottish Government Ministers as parents to young people who are in care.
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland said:
“The outcomes that young people in care face are a shame to us all. These young people are taken into care because they are neglected and abused and yet, they leave care to outcomes we wouldn’t want for any of our own children. This has to be better and it has to come from the top.”
” It is now clear, in law, that the next First Minister has parenting duties for young people who are in care of the state. That means that whoever is elected will have a fantastic opportunity to build on the work of the last Parliament. We believe that these young people, who have some of the most challenging starts in life, deserve better than the outcomes they are facing. The title of First Minister now also comes with the title Parent and we hope that after the election, we see an ambitious plan on how whoever is elected will realise those.”
Laura Beveridge, care leaver and campaigner said:
“When I grew up in care, no one was allowed to tell me that they loved me. I know that love did exist, I felt it. But the way the system is set up meant it wasn’t allowed to flourish. Care felt like it was being done to me rather than with me. That led to years of self-doubt and self-harm for me. I could trust no one. We need a better way of doing this.”
“Care can’t be clinical or institutional; it has to be like family life. Parents don’t tell their kids “I’m attached to you” they say “I love you”. That’s why I’m calling on the next First Minister to own their duties as a parent. Young people in care desperately need them to show leadership, courage and most importantly, love so that we can change these outcomes for good.”