The Promise

On 5 February 2020, the Care Review published seven reports, with The Promise narrating a vision for Scotland.  The Promise is responsible for driving the work of change drawn from the findings of the Independent Care Review.   The Promise and the six other published reports can be viewed here.

COSLA and its 32 Member Councils have all pledged to #KeepThePromise by 2030.  Local and national policy and practice change is underway and this page will be regularly updated to feature the on going work and the impact this is having on our children, young people, families and communities.

On the 8th April 2022 COSLA published the Local Government annual report on the progress made across Scotland to Keep The Promise.  You can read the full report and see the work of Scotland's councils here.

The Promise - The work of Local Government

Throughout 2022 we'll highlight some of the work going on across Scotland's local authority areas to #KeepThe Promise.  We'll post each month on Twitter @COSLA and this page will be regularly updated.

  • Glasgow City Council

    GLASGOW’S VIRTUAL SCHOOL

    “We will support our care experienced children and young people to remain in school and not be excluded.  We will work together to find better solutions”

    As part of the GVS Guidelines we ask Designated Managers to let us know about any imminent exclusions so that we can work together to try to find alternatives to exclusion.  The Lead for Care Experienced Learners is leading the CELCIS working party looking at alternatives to exclusion.  The Virtual School Head Teacher is a member of the MC8 (Included, Engaged and Involved: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions) Quality Assurance Group where she will invite 2 care experienced pupils to be part of the group to consider improvements to the policy as well as alternatives to exclusion.

    Following evaluation feedback, we have further developed partnerships with a wider range of partners to improve interventions for our children and young people e.g. Blairvadach outdoor, Outdoor Resource Centre, learning for our primary children, North Kelvin Sports and we are working in partnership with Action for Children on a bespoke programme at the Clay Community Café in Possil where our young people are learning barista skills as well as working towards the Community Achievement Award in conjunction with Kelvin College.

    Our children and young people will not face unnecessary barriers to education because of their immigration status”

    Working in partnership with the Volunteer Tutor Organisation (VTO) we have developed a successful tutoring intervention for our unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).

    We have made a change to the Overseas Enrolment policy to ensure a smoother enrolment process in schools for our UASC children.  Area Lead Officers work alongside residential colleagues to facilitate UASC children being enrolled in schools as quickly as possible.

  • Stirling Council - Supporting the Workforce

    In February 2022, to coincide with Care Day and the Tending the Light Festival of Care we launched our Corporate Parenting Elearning Module.  This interactive module was developed collaboratively with Stirling Champs Board and some of the young people’s voices feature in training.  The launch was widely publicised to staff as our elearning module of the month and we shared it with partner agencies, including Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Skills Development Scotland. The module is available for all staff and has been made mandatory for team leader level and above.  It will be completed by the Schools and Learning workforce during Staff Development days at the beginning of each academic year. In the first two weeks of the launch it was completed by 230 members of staff.  Completion reports will be monitored and Champs Board are being kept appraised of the positive feedback the module has received, including that it is “accessible and informative”, “the young people’s voices really hit home” and is helping staff understand and value their role as corporate parents.

    Here is a link to Stirling Champs Board’s Letter to corporate Parents which forms part of the training module: Dear Corporate Parent - Stirling Champions Board - YouTube

    Perth and Kinross Council - Families Empowering Communities, the story so far...

    Read more about this project, including the four priorities here PDF, 4088.05 KB

    • Whole Family Support
    • Community Capacity Building
    • One-to-One Parent Support
    • Universal Support

    Fife Council - Delivering on The Promise through a Community Social Work Approach

    The aim of this approach is to work in a preventative way with people and the wider community, rather than reacting to individual crises or intervening when it may be too late to hold families or communities together.  You can read more about this project here.

    North Ayrshire Council - Welfare Rights in Secondary Schools Projects

    Through a partnership agreement between North Ayrshire Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership funding has been provided for a two year post for a Welfare Rights Officer to deliver welfare rights services across seven of North Ayrshire's secondary schools.  You can read more about the outcomes and impacts of this project, including feedback from parents and schools here.

  • Clackmannanshire Council - The Clacks' Promise

    See the key priorities and participation opportunities in Clackmannanshire Council here.

    For more information visit www.clacks.gov.uk/social/thepromise

    Angus Council - Growing Leadership of The Promise

    Angus Council's Promise Team have been delivering presentations on The Promise to council leaders from across council services with the aim of growing understand and developing connections across their corporate parents to keep their Angus Promise.

    You can read more about this project, led by their Participation Assistants Kym and Tasha here.

    East Dunbartonshire Council House Project

    For The Promise to have impact, Plan 21-24 A Good Childhood details priority actions for change including support, relationships and moving on. In collaboration with care experienced young people, East Dunbartonshire HSCP made a bid to the Life Changes Trust for funding to start a Local House Project. This bid was successful and the first group of young people started in February 2021.  Read all about East Dunbartonshire's House Project here.

    City of Edinburgh Council - The 5 Fundamentals

    The Promise is based on 5 Fundamentals. In Edinburgh, to take these Fundamentals forward we needed a collective understanding of what these fundamentals mean to us all. The Fundamentals document has been written from existing Care Review documentation to provide some usability to these otherwise broad headings. Without these definitions and explanations, we could end up interpreting the fundamentals in different ways. This would not get us to where need to get to together in ensuring that Edinburgh’s children receive children’s services that will keep Edinburgh’s Promise.

    Read more about Edinburgh's work on The Promise here.

    Inverclyde Council -  IPromise Team update

    Between March and May 2022, Inverclyde's IPromise team engaged with 183 colleagues across the workforce to discuss ha's going well, where the gaps are and actively listen to the workforce recommendations to ensure Inverclyde Council gets it right for every child. Read more from their update here.

  • Perth and Kinross

    At Perth and Kinross Council we are keeping the Promise by promoting and delivering a way of working that is inclusive and rights based. Wherever it is safe to do so we are putting supports in to make sure children and young people can stay with their families. Listening to children, young people, their families, and their extended support network. Involving them in every decision and empowering them to make their own decisions and plans by offering Family Group Decision Making.

    Family group decision making is a structured process facilitated by an independent coordinator who supports the family, in its widest sense, create a plan of support where there are concerns about a child or young person. Building cooperation between key extended family, restoring, and strengthening family ties. Building community and working together thus improving family functioning and relationships so that children and young people can remain with those that they love and are important to them.

    There are times when children and young people do have to be accommodated. Sadly, when young people have come into care, despite all the hard work and commitment from professionals, we know that children and young people have often lost connections with people that are important to them.

    As part of our ongoing commitment, we have secured investment through the Brothers and Sisters Fund to build capacity withing our Lifelong Links service. This investment is enabling us to develop our service by providing training, information, delivery of, and the promotion of Lifelong Links. Our aim is that every child and young person who is looked after and accommodated can participate in the Lifelong Links process.

    Lifelong Links aims to identify and find safe family members and other important people, to build a lasting support network for children and young people that they can turn to for support as they grow. To learn more about their family history and give them a stronger sense of identity and belonging.

    Below are the experiences of two young people that have been supported by the Lifelong Links process.

    Sarah’s Story

    Sarah was 15 when she started working with her Lifelong Links coordinator. Sarah was accommodated at the age of 7 after being in kinship care with her grandparent for a short time. Sarah then experienced several foster care placements moves before settling in a residential house. Sarah has had ongoing supervised contact with the maternal side of the family and no contact with her paternal side since not long after being accommodated.

    Sarah wanted to reconnect with her father and the paternal side of her family. She also wanted to have a more coherent understanding of her journey through care and the various placements. Prior to meeting with the Lifelong Links coordinator Sarah had completed her social connections tool, she identified only three people as being important to her and offering her support. All three were professionals currently involved in his life.

    Sarah and her Lifelong Links coordinator spent time completing her family tree, piecing together who was who. A timeline supported Sarah to have a better understanding of when and where various moves took place and mobility mapping allowed Sarah to consolidate this, exploring who was around in her life at various times and identifying supportive positive relationships. Sarah was keen to reconnect with as many of these people as possible.

    Sarah’s Lifelong Links coordinator found and connected with over 16 people who often thought about Sarah and were keen to reconnect with her. Sarah’s father was doing well, he was in a very different place emotionally and had been for several years. When the coordinator contacted Sarah's father, he said he had been waiting on this day for so long and would do what it takes to move forward and be able to offer Sarah ongoing support.

    Sarah was supported to have contact with her father this was a very emotional and positive experience, and they continue to agree and facilitate contact without social work support.  Sarah was also supported to have contact with two of her paternal aunts who were over the moon to have the opportunity to reconnect.

    Sarah also reconnected with previous Foster Carer’s, and two of her teachers from primary school who sent letters which included nice stories and photos of Sarah’s time with them. Sarah has also had letters and a birthday card from her previous social worker and the offer of ongoing contact and support from them.

    As discussed, when Sarah started on this journey, she only identified 3 people when completing her social connection tool. Sarah’s Lifelong Links plan involves the ongoing involvement and support of 11 people, and it is hope that this is the first step in supporting Sarah to have ongoing connections, a network of consistent and supportive people around her as she moves into and through his adult life.

    Annie’s Story

    At the time of referral to Lifelong Links Annie was 13 years old and was living in her third foster care placement after things had broken down with her adoptive parents.

    Annie was really unsettled and had began to seek out her birth family through Facebook. Annie was able to find her birth mother and she absconded from her placement and travelled alone by bus over 100 miles to meet with her birth mother.

    After being returned to her placement Annie and her birth mother continued to have contact through Facebook and Annie made it very clear she wanted to go and live with her birth mother and build up a relationship with her birth family. Annie’s birth mother contacted social work and made it clear she also wanted to build up a relationship with Annie, stating that she was very young at the time of the adoption and was in a very different place now.

    Annie’s adoptive family were initially against these relationships developing, however, with support through the LL process were able to accept that this was something that Annie was going to proceed with anyway. They were supported to acknowledge that it was safer to explore this now while Annie had support around her rather than taking off as soon as she was old enough and not having the same support to pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong.

    The LL Coordinator spent time engaging several members of the maternal birth side of the       family who were all supportive of Annie returning to their care and brought them together in a family meeting with her adoptive father. During private family time the family agreed and organised for Annie to live with her birth mother on a trial period supported by the extended family and social work. To date things have gone well, Annie continues to live with her birth mother, her mother’s partner and two half siblings, she has started a new school and has the support of the extended maternal birth family and her adoptive father who she continues to have regular contact with.

  • Stirling Council

    This document demonstrates the impact of interventions, particularly by our Virtual head Team, to promote and secure positive destinations for our care experienced school leavers.

    We have taken steps towards strengthening these interventions in consultation with young people, to ensure we build on what is working well and continue to embed person-centred planning with each and every young person.  We are focussing on sustained positive destinations in our next phase of implementing the Promise.

    North Ayrshire Council

    North Ayrshire's Summer Programme for care experienced children, young people, families and parents/carers is taking place over the holidays. Our Champions Board with the help of our Corporate Parenting Team are running these activities so a space can be provided so that parents/carers, children and young people can make connections, get to know our staff and Champions Board.

    It also provides a forum where views can be sought and opportunities to participate in planning forums can be recruited from. But ultimately, it’s so our children, young people and their families can have fun and build relationships.  The activities, dates and times can be viewed here and here.

    Glasgow City Council

    GLASGOW INTENSIVE FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES (GIFSS)

    The GIFSS partnership was committed to co-producing a strengths-based, family-centred intensive family support service practice model. The Team articulated three distinct areas that could be attributed to how they worked with families – VOICE, VALIDATION and HOPE.

    Together they designed a strengths-based engagement and assessment model, which continually evolved with families as they move through their intensive family support journey.  As a framework of practice, it was a road map to how the service would work alongside families.  Voice Validation and Hope places the family at the centre of their story.

    Voice – We recognise that families are the experts in their own lives.  It is vitally important that we promote families to have a voice and choice at every stage of our engagement.  Each family member will have an important part to play and must feel as if their voice can be heard.  This is even more important as often families will be at their lowest ebb and may feel excluded from not only services but at times their own families and communities. That is why in the process of developing a relationship with the family that their voice remains at the beginning of our engagement.  It is vital that we listen to families.

    Validation – It is core to the engagement process that the family/ individuals feel that their feelings are acknowledged.  It is important that a family’s role and importance whether this be in challenges and/ or successes are recognised explicitly as a foundation for establishing an engagement that is respectful, empathic and built on trust.  To validate is to accept an individual as important without judgement or prejudice. The conversation will aim to refrain from shame and blame within the family and move towards more validating language and strength-based communication.  By validating and understanding we can nurture and empower families to see their own strengths and assets.

    Hope – All families have assets and capabilities that can be used to foster hope and inspire meaningful change.  By working alongside families, goals can be developed that are achievable and hope inspiring. These goals will be routed within the values of the family and their community.  Each time we meet with families it is important that they feel that our time together has importance and that there is hope for them as a family moving forward.

  • Inverclyde Council

    During August our Proud2Care young people hosted an event with the Children and Young person’s minister, Clare Haughey, our panel community and Social Workers here in Inverclyde. Our inspiring Proud2Care young people led the engaging day and used the opportunity to launch their Language Matters film challenging the stigma of language used in their care, and together we all explored what The Promise can look like for Inverclyde.

    Read more about about Inverclyde's iPromise Month here

    City of Edinburgh Council

    Edinburgh City Council have pledged to Keep The Promise that care experienced children and young people grow up Loved,Safe and Respected. Recognising their crucial role, staff discussed ways to Keep The Promise for pupils in Edinburgh's schools...

    For Care Experienced Children to feel LOVED in school, we need to:

    • Develop warm and nurturing relationships
    • Make school a place of care and safety
    • Make them feel welcome, show an interest in their lives
    • Know & remember what to do when they need support.
    • Relationships are based on kindness & acceptance

    For Care Experienced Children to feel SAFE in school, we need to:

    • Provide safe spaces for them.
    • Listen to concerns and support them in agreed ways.
    • Have consistent routines and responses.
    • Recognise that these themes are interwoven and that our practice should be empathetic and nurturing.

    For Care Experienced Children to feel RESPECTED in school, we need to:

    • Prioritise listening to children's voices and empower them to actively take part in their wellbeing & education plans.
    • Make sure school is positive and welcoming, always.
    • Celebrate individual strengths and qualities.
    • Show unconditional positive regard, and ensure we are inclusive in all we do.

    Here's a short info film sharing information on feeling Love, Safe and Respected and the five fundamentals of Edinburgh’s Promise   https://clickv.ie/w/S5J

    You can read more information here.

    East Ayrshire Council

    Bright Spots in East Ayrshire

    East Ayrshire was one of three local authorities who worked with CELCIS and Corum Voice to seek and hear from our children, young people and care leavers. This was a partnership approach across East Ayrshire with HSCP, Vibrant Communities, Who Cares? BTHA, Action for Children, Education, Police, CAMHS, SDS and Ayrshire College. This was exceptionally powerful showing positive experiences and impact for us to build upon as well as some difficult to hear messages where we need to do better. The thank you letter here shows our next steps to ensure we follow through with action.

  • Falkirk Council

    Falkirk  Council  are delighted to share their update on awareness raising work they've been doing with young people to raise the profile of the people and work of their Champs Board.  This has included an ask of the Champs Board to rename their Corporate Parents as 'Council Friends and Family' as they feel better connected to that description.  You can read about Falkirk Council's recent work here.

    Renfrewshire Council

    To ensure that we #KeepThePromise across Renfrewshire, we have been recruiting Promise Keepers from a wide range of staff teams and services.

    Promise Keepers will act as local champions for The Promise in their roles and ensure that it remains at the forefront of service design and delivery moving forwards, as well as actioning key recommendations from the Independent Care Review. They will do this in a range of ways, such as presenting at team meetings, sharing The Promise with their colleagues, and reviewing the language used in their service.

    There is a formal application process for Promise Keepers to ensure that staff are enthusiastic and committed to the role. All Promise Keepers must fill out a short application form to outline their interest in the role and any opportunities they have identified for enacting change.

    All Promise Keepers will receive relevant training and development opportunities and access to a supportive wider network to encourage collaboration and partnership working across services in the local authority. The training allows all Promise Keepers to have a baseline understanding of The Promise and equips them with the resources and knowledge they need in their roles.

    Promise Keepers will meet every eight weeks to discuss progress in their roles and share ideas. This will also be an opportunity for Promise Keepers to raise any challenges they have encountered to allow us to provide support and guidance.

    We have recently concluded our first round of training sessions with twelve Promise Keepers and are currently planning future sessions and engagement with education staff.

    Dumfries and Galloway Council

    Dumfries and Galloway Council has established a 'Promise Partnership' comprising members from the council, third sector, NHS, D&G college, and others. The purpose of the Partnership is to  lead on the opportunity to make sure every child and family in Dumfries and Galloway has what they need to thrive.

    Members of this group, taking a holistic approach will:

    • Support our children, young people, adults, and families who are care experienced, recognising that experience of care has an effect on people throughout their lives.
    • Support our children, young people, adults and families who we know are at risk of being taking into care, recognising that the right support at the right times will help keep families together and avoid the need for care.
    • Support all our children, young people, adults and families, recognising that if we get the services that everyone uses right then the level of engagement with the care system will be reduced.

    For more information on how we're working to #KeepThePromise in Dumfries and Galloway Council you can browse through these documents.

  • Aberdeenshire Council

    An Aberdeenshire Council children’s rights officer has been recognised for her exemplary work with looked-after children and young people.

    Laura Stewart was presented with the Health Care Rights Award at the Children’s Health Scotland Conference earlier this month.

    In accepting her award, Laura said she had the "best job in the world", adding: “We are a small team who work alongside children and young people, ensuring they know about their rights and that adults uphold these rights.

    “Care-experienced young people attend an awful lot of meetings where adults make decisions that have a huge impact on their lives, which can be full of change. Their rights are at the heart of how I provide support so that they have as much control as possible.”

    To read more about Laura, her work at Aberdeenshire Council and her award please follow this link to the full newspaper article as featured in Grampian Online.

    Aberdeenshire Council's website also contains information on their children’s rights service and, in particular their Young People's Organising and Campaigning group who have a key role in bringing awareness to the issues facing children and young people in care.  The group will continue to work on their campaign on stigma.  They have produced previous campaigns and documents such as the ‘coming into care and moving placements checklist’ which is now used at looked after child reviews when a child is first placed into care or moving to ensure all the necessary supports and work has been done. This was all led by what young people within this group said they feel is important for young people during these periods of change.

    Aberdeenshire are also starting the process of widening the children’s rights service out to ensure young people going through child protection processes have access to similar support.

    East Ayrshire Council

    Since March 2022, Promise Participation Leader, Eoghann MacColl, has been leading weekly art workshops at the Dick Institute. The sessions offer a safe space, in a historic civic building, in which care experienced young people can express themselves creatively through a variety of media, be that drawing, painting, digital imaging, sculpture, creative writing and poetry.
    In the early sessions, care experienced young people were encouraged to engage with Grayson Perry’s touring exhibition ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ presented by East Ayrshire Leisure. Comprising a series of six tapestries which tell a story about class, taste, aspiration and identity, the young people were encouraged to think through and create their own worlds reflecting their own favourite things, places, landscapes, services and currency.

    Read more about East Ayrshire's 'Delivering The Promise through art' work here.

    South Ayrshire Council

    Structured Deferred Sentence (SDS) is when we work intensively with the support of partner agencies with young people aged 16-21 who are subject to a period of short-term deferment (normally six months). The SDS pilot began in December 2017 and was recently evaluated by the University of the West of Scotland. The evaluation highlights the approach taken within South Lanarkshire in recent years to better support young people who find themselves in conflict with the law, and who may be at risk of harm. This includes a number of young people who have experience of being looked after and cared for by the local authority. The use of short-term intensive supports and services at an earlier opportunity, following involvement with the justice system, is shown to produce better outcomes for young people. The aim is to utilise a relationship- based approach to address and respond to the key risks and needs identified for the young person, while also focussing on the development of strengths.

    You can read the full evaluation from the University of the West of Scotland here.

    The Highland Council

    OUR JOURNEY IN BECOMING A TRAUMA INFORMED COUNCIL

    To deliver on Plan 21- 24, among other priorities to #KeepthePromise, the Programme Manager (The Promise) in Highland Council has been working with the senior leadership team and elected members to support the development of a Trauma Informed Council. Within ‘Supporting the Workforce’ in Plan 21 – 24, it promotes the importance of a Trauma Informed workforce. As a Trauma Champion (see Welcome Pack for Trauma Champions (improvementservice.org.uk) for more info), the Programme manager has had access to support and opportunities to collaborate with the Improvement Service, other national and local Trauma Champions and access to substantial resources within NES Scotland’s National Trauma Training Programme (NTTP).

    You can read more about Highland Council's Trauma Informed Practice Work here.