Scottish Labour leadership candidate Anas Sarwar MSP says a year after the Care Review it’s time to reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that care experienced people are at the heart of driving the change still needed.

This week marks one year since the publication of Scotland’s Independent Care Review. The review was a root-and-branch investigation into care in our country – which has failed the people it is supposed to support for far too long. 

Led by Fiona Duncan, the review was like no other that this country has witnessed. Its structure, process and engagement ensured that it was those with care experience who were at its heart. Their voice was at the core of the review, which makes it all the more imperative that we deliver the change it seeks – and #KeepThePromise we all have made to improve things. 

The policy focus on the outcomes for Care Experienced Young People over the period of this Parliament has been welcome, but alongside that we must recognise the terrible outcomes that young people in our care system have – through no fault of their own, but because of how poorly we deliver for those in our care. In education, over 60% of pupils with Care Experience leave school without one National 5, nearly 30% don’t leave school to a ‘positive destination’ and those young people are eight times less likely than the average to access higher education when leaving school. We don’t collect any robust data on employment and health outcomes.

These outcomes are a national scandal, and to change will require hard work. The review, and young people themselves, have done the hard work in detailing the failings of the system, outlining what needs to change in terms of processes, culture and resources, and shown us the route-map of how to create a world-leading care system which has equality, respect and love as its guiding principles. 

It is now up to all of us – and particular people like me as MSPs – to do the hard work in making sure that change happens.

I reaffirm today that, if I am elected leader, the Scottish Labour Party will do all it can to #KeepThePromise and ensure that during the next parliamentary term the voices of those with care experience continue to be heard in our Parliament, and continue to be at the centre of driving change. 

One year on, the challenge the review has set out is still as stark, but we must ensure that a promise made is a promise kept. 

Progress requires leadership, but it also requires people to change. To give up their silos and protected budget lines; to spend money now in order to save it in the future; and to question practices and attitudes that have persisted unchallenged for too long.

It needs hope, but also an unstinting belief that these children deserve a better future. That we are their parents. That these are Scotland’s children.

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