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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-11419: Kezia Dugdale (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 20 September 2017

To ask the Scottish Government how it will reduce the death rate of care-experienced young people.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 2 October 2017

It is important to emphasise that GIRFEC – Getting it Right for Every Child – underpins all work by the Scottish Government to reduce inequalities experienced by looked after children and young people. GIRFEC puts the rights and wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of the services that support them to ensure the right help is offered at the right time from the right people.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced Continuing Care, extended Aftercare support and put Corporate Parenting on a statutory footing. These provisions support a more graduated transition out of care settings and encourage a focus on maintaining supportive relationships.

Specifically, we have a range of work underway to reduce trauma and to support some of our most vulnerable children and young people. The Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 outlines the importance of responding appropriately to the emotional distress linked to both the circumstances that led to a child becoming looked after, and the experience of being looked after in any setting. The Strategy also emphasises that professionals working with looked after children and young people should have the necessary knowledge and skills around issues such as trauma and attachment. Scottish Government officials are working towards setting up a system in Scotland to ensure that all child deaths, whether those children are looked after or not, are reviewed and to learn lessons to prevent avoidable deaths.

In order to reduce the death rate of care-experienced young people, it is vital to address inequalities in their life chances and wellbeing. The Scottish Government is committed to improving outcomes for all care-experienced young people in Scotland and to making Scotland the best place to grow up. The Getting it Right for Looked After Children and Young People Strategy (published in 2015), outlines our priorities of early engagement, early permanence, and improving the quality of care. This approach ensures that looked after young people will receive the support they need when they need it, that they receive support services which meet their needs, and that they are provided with safe, stable settings which allow them to thrive.