Below is a letter that has been sent to all foster carers in Scotland from Mark McDonald MSP, Minister for Childcare and Early Years.
Minister for Childcare and Early Years
Mark McDonald MSP
T: 0300 244 4000
Dear Foster Carers
Last year during Foster Care Fortnight, I introduced myself as the new Minister for Childcare and Early Years with a portfolio to ensure that we get it right for looked after children in Scotland. I have now met with a variety of people from the sector who make it their priority to support our foster children on a daily basis. I have been impressed by the dedication of both the Fostering Network and the foster carers I have met so far.
I want to restate my heartfelt appreciation for all that you do in caring for and supporting some of our most vulnerable children. I have met young people who have talked to me at length about how their foster families have supported them to consider opportunities in further education and employment, or given them the confidence to follow other ambitions.
Last month I had the pleasure of meeting the young people involved in making ‘Give me a chance’ at the premier of their film, which was hosted at the Scottish Parliament. The positivity and energy radiating from them was absolutely tangible and they are determined to use the film to share their positive experiences of being in foster care.
Listening to our care experienced young people and acting upon the experiences they share with us is at the heart of our policy development. You will be aware that we are committed to building on improvements already realised in foster caring over the past few years, by announcing a national Review of Care and a review of care allowances in Scotland. Both of these commitments will be gathering pace over the summer months.
I encourage you to do all you can to inspire others to consider caring for a vulnerable child. The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign web page provides some helpful suggestions and information.
Here is what I hope will be a useful more detailed update on work so far and plans for the future that will impact on foster caring:
Learning and Development for Foster Carers
Thank you to those of you who will have contributed to last year’s consultation or attended a workshop on the new learning and development Standard for Foster Carers. Here is a link to the final Standard document and a full report on the feedback we received from the consultation.
We will shortly begin considering options for implementation of the new Standard within the context of the Independent Care Review once the Review has announced more details. We will then establish an expert group to consider a cost analysis and agree a realistic plan and timeframe for foster care providers to implement the new Standard into practice.
We had hoped to launch a National Allowances Review Group last year; however, following the First Minster’s announcement about the Care Review work on this will be taken forward this summer. The Allowances Review Group will be tasked with considering the feasibility of introducing a new national allowances scheme that meets the needs of children living in both kinship care and foster care.
Guidance on Decision Making for Foster Carers
Following a consultation on the draft guidance we are now working with our solicitors to produce a final version of the guidance later this year.
Independent Review of Care
The Independent Review of Care has recently launched its website, which provides useful information about the Review as well as contact details for use by anyone who would like to be involved or submit views to the Chair.
I hope you find this update useful and thanks again for all that you do on a day to day basis to support the needs of vulnerable children and young people.