There are many care experienced children and young people in Scotland.
Here, we explain what ‘care experience’ means and the different types of care. We also explore additional support for learning (ASL) and the help that is available.
What does ‘care experience’ mean?
Being care experienced means that you have lived in care at some point in your life.
This could be a short-term temporary arrangement, or something that is longer-term.
When we say ‘in care’ it usually means being looked after by people who aren’t your birth parents. There are different types of care that we will explain below.
Foster care – this is when a child or young person moves home whilst their own family are unable to look after them. Foster carers (also called foster parents)look after them, offering a safe, loving and nurturing home. This can be temporary or longer term.
Kinship care – this is when a child goes to live with another family member or someone they already know. This could be like an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or family friend. If a child’s birth parents are unable to care for them, it can be kinship carerswho look after them. This can help make sure they have a safe, loving and nurturing home. Kinship care can be temporary or longer term.
Residential care – this is a type of care where children and young people live in a place called a ‘children’s home’ or a ‘residential care home’. These homes have trained adults who work there. It is their role to look after the children and young people and provide support. Someone might be in residential care if they can’t live with their own family or if they need extra help or support. Residential care can be temporary or longer term.
Secure care – this is a type of residential care that restricts the freedom of children to protect them and others. People in secure care stay at ‘secure accommodation’. This is for a very small number of children who may be a risk to themselves, and/or others in the community. The aim of secure care is to provide intensive support and safe boundaries. It should help vulnerable children re-engage in community life and move forward .
‘Looked after at home’ – this is when the children’s hearings system decides that a child should stay at their normal home, but that they should receive regular visits from social workers. These visits are to ensure that they are safe and healthy.
Adoption – this is when a child legally becomes a member of a new family that isn’t their birth family. Adoption is a permanent arrangement and happens when a child’s birth family are unable to look after them.
Care experience and learning
Some children and young people with experience of care might have had difficult experiences in the past. For example, they might have had to move away from their birth parents. They may also have been in a situation where they didn’t feel safe.
Additionally, for some children the uncertainty around their home life is ongoing. They may also be experiencing lots of changes. This can mean having to adjust to living in different places with different people.
Because of these experiences, some people might need extra support with their learning.
As a care experienced young person, your school should be able to help you. For instance, they can do this by putting things in place to support your learning.
How can my school help?
If you have experience of care then one of the ways you can get support is through Additional Support for Learning (ASL).
ASL is provided for children and young people who need extra support to help them learn.
This includes people who have experience of care.
ASL can include a wide range of support, such as:
– support from a learning assistant
– extra time for exams
– doing exams and tests in a smaller, more comfortable space
If you have experience of care, your school should be aware. They should also involve you in shaping the type of support you get.
Something that is important to know that you have the right to have your say at school. In addition, you should be involved in decisions about your education and support.
This means you also have the right to have your say in your support planning meetings. These meetings can involve your teachers, carers and social work. There might also be other people there, like an educational psychologist or support worker. The aim of Support Planning Meetings is to make a plan to help you do your best in school and beyond.
Want to find out more about Support Planning Meetings?
Then check out our FAQs on this page 🙂
Help in School
Find out about your right to be involved in Support Planning Meetings and what to expect.
If you are 12-15 and finding it difficult to speak to your school, then an organisation called My Rights, My Say can help.
You can contact them by hitting the button below.
who else can help?
An important organisation that can offer support and help you have your say is Who Cares? Scotland.
They have a helpline that is open Monday to Friday from 12noon until 4pm.
You can call them on: 0330 107 7540
Who Cares? Scotland also provide advocacy for care experienced children and young people.
This is when you chat with a trained person, called an ‘advocacy and participation worker’. They can help you to have a say in what is happening to you.
Who Cares? Scotland supports care experienced people to have their voice heard.
They are a membership organisation who have over 3,700 care experienced members. They are all different ages with different experiences, from all over Scotland.
The Promise is a pledge that Scotland’s First Minister made in 2020 to care experienced young people. It came about as a result of a report called the Independent Care Review.
The people who wrote the report spoke to lots of children and young people. They asked them about their experience of care in Scotland. Therefore, The Promise is a response to what they said and a pledge to make the changes they recommended.
Scotland’s promise to care experienced children and young people is that they will grow up loved, safe, and respected.
The Promise has five foundations. These are based on what care experienced people said needs to change in Scotland. The five foundations feature in The Promise logo:
Children must be listened to.
That means they should be and meaningfully and appropriately involved when decisions are made about their care.
And it means everyone involved in their care should listen properly to them, and respond to what they want and need.
Scotland’s culture of decision-making must be compassionate and caring. It must be focused on children, and those they trust.
Where children are safe in their families and feel loved,they must stay.
Families must get support together to nurture that love, and to overcome the difficulties which get in its way.
Sometimes, it’s not possible for children to live with their family.
But they must still be able to live with their brothers and sisters, as long as it’s safe.
And they must belong to a loving home, staying there for as long as they need to.
The children Scotland cares for mustbe supported to develop relationships: with people in the workforce, and those in the wider community.
And these people must also be supported: to listen, and to be compassionate in their care and decision-making.
Children, families and the workforce must besupported by a system that is there when it is needed:the scaffolding of help, support and accountability.