A term with respect at its heart
“Care experienced" is a term which tries to acknowledge that, for some people:
The sense of being in care is a shared experience
Two different care experienced people may have been in very different situations. But they may find their experiences still had a lot in common, in ways which someone who wasn't care experienced couldn't identify with.
Care is an experience, but not one that totally defines you
Although going into care can affect a person, it doesn’t sum up everything about them. The phrase care experienced conveys this— a thing you experience doesn’t convey the whole of what you are.
Language should put the person it talks about at the centre
For a long time, people talked about "looked after" children and young people. But that phrase puts the focus on the people taking care of them. Care experienced conveys it’s what happens to a child that matters, because what matters is the child themselves.
You can experience care while living with your parent
If you have a Compulsory Supervision Order, you can still be care experienced when living with one or both of your parents.
An Order like this is made by either:
- a Children’s Hearing, or
- a Sheriff— a particular kind of judge.
When it’s in effect, your local authority has legal duties to you. It means they have to help your parents provide support and supervision for you, as part of an organised plan.
You can have experienced care in your wider family
You can be care experienced if you’re cared for by family members who aren’t your parents, or if you have been in the past. For example, you might have been cared for by your aunt, uncle or grandparents.
Care of this kind is often called kinship care.
You can be in kinship care that is informal; organised by your own family. Or you can be in kinship care as part of a compulsory supervision order.
You can have experienced care in a different family
You can be care experienced if you’re in a foster placement, or have been in the past. In a placement like this, you live with a family who isn’t legally considered to be your own.
You can have experienced care outwith a family
You can be care experienced if you’ve ever been cared for outside of a family. That includes:
- if you live in residential care, or have done in the past, and
- if you live in secure care, or have done in the past.
Scotland’s duties to care experienced children and young people
All children should be able to grow up in a loving family environment.
It's fundamental to the human rights of all Scotland's children and young people. That's something made clear in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To help make sure this happens for care experienced children, the Convention says there should be extra protections for them. But Scotland should take steps to make sure all children can grow up in this way.
Every child deserves to grow up safe, loved and respected— and children should be able to stay with their families when they can.
But sometimes, families need support to make sure this can happen. And when a child can’t stay with their family, they should still get the care that they need.
Scotland's promise to care experienced people
Scotland’s Independent Care Review found that these duties weren’t being kept for a lot of care experienced children and young people. It heard their stories of how the “care system” had failed to realise their rights, and about the long-term damage this often caused.
Because Scotland’s “care system” isn’t always working, it comes at a real cost:
- It won’t always uphold children’s rights— so it’s costly to human lives.
- And it’s expensive to run— so it’s costly to Scotland’s finances.
So in 2020, Scotland made a promise: that by 2030, care experienced children and young people will be able to grow up safe, loved and respected, and be supported to stay with their families where that’s possible.
Keeping this promise is a complicated task, which will take time.
But the promise itself is simple, and rooted in the human rights all of us share.