A New Foundation of Care

“We grow up loved, safe, and respected so that we realise our full potential.” Scotland’s Ambition for children and young people

In Feb 2020, the Independent Care Review - Scotland’s most comprehensive analysis into the challenges facing care-experienced individuals - published the result of their three year study. The Review Panel conducted more than 5,500 interviews with children, young people and adults who have been through the “Care System”, as well as professionals working within care - including those from education, the public sector and the 3rd sector.

Over the past three years, MCR Pathways has closely supported each stage of the Review. Young Scottish Talent young people and our Ambassadors took part in the 1000 Voices campaign and shared their mentoring and care experience with the First Minister and the Review’s Chair Fiona Duncan.

Our vision is a future where every care-experienced and disadvantaged young person in Scotland gets the same education outcomes, career opportunities and life chances as every other young person. We believe that changes to the care system are necessary to make sure every young person, no matter their circumstances, can achieve the future they deserve. Mentoring is a key part of this future and believe it should be a right in education for all care-experienced pupils.

In this blog, we’ll be exploring key themes of the Care Review and how mentoring fits in the wider recommendations.

What is the Care Review?

At the heart of the review are the lived experiences, challenges and voices of those with experience of the care system. Commissioned in 2016 by Scotland’s First Minister, the intention was to create a snapshot of Scotland’s Care System and understand how it really affects the lives of children, young people and adults. They wanted to truly understand the experience of care - not simply the ideal of how the system should work.

Crucially, the review was not about blaming individuals, programmes or policies, but instead to create a vision for change. The Care Review is an acknowledgement that Scotland has failed many of its most disadvantaged children and young people. The Review is also a promise. A promise of a new system, where love, care and relationships are the heart and soul of how Scotland parents.

Published across seven reports, the Care Review includes:

  • The Promise & Pinky Promise outline of what changes Scotland must make to make sure care-experienced young people feel loved and have a safe and happy childhood.
  • The Rules describe the complicated rules and policies that currently make up the “care system.”
  • The Money & Follow the Money give a break down of the cost of the system, the cost of the system’s failure and how to better allocate resources.
  • The Plan is a blueprint for what steps need to be taken to ensure Scotland is able to keep The Promise.

Key Recommendations

The Review recommends five pillars to reshape care and values in Scotland.

The central philosophy is that “Scotland must create an environment and culture where finding and maintaining safe, loving, respectful relationships is the norm. That will involve fundamentally shifting the primary purpose of the whole of Scotland’s ‘care system’ from protecting against harm to protecting all safe, loving respectful relationships.

The five components that make up this promise for change are:

Voice: Children and young people must be listened to and meaningfully and appropriately involved in decision making about their care. There must be a compassionate and caring decision making culture focussed on children and those they trust.
Family: Where children are safe in their families and feel loved they must stay – and families must be given support together, to nurture that love and overcome the difficulties which get in the way.
Care: Where living with their family is not possible, children must stay with their brothers and sisters where safe to do so, and belong to a loving home, staying there for as long as needed.
People: The children that Scotland cares for must be actively supported to develop relationships with people in the workforce and wider community, who in turn must be supported to listen and be compassionate in their decision-making and care.
Scaffolding: Children, families and the workforce must be supported by a system that is there when it is needed. The scaffolding of help, support and accountability must be ready and responsive when it is required.

MCR Mentoring & implementing Care Reform

To support children, young people and families, we must create a village of care. The Review urgently outlines the need for people that form the wider support structure - in education, community groups, third sector organisations and in the public sector - to be empowered to create personal relationships with care-experienced young people. These relationships are the foundation to ensure young people feel loved and supported.

At MCR, we’ve always known that it is these relationships that make the difference. We recruit, train and match volunteer mentors with a young person based on personality, experiences and the young person’s career goals.

Crucially, mentors aren’t there because they have to be, they’re building a relationship with a young person because they want to. This foundation of care, active listening, nonjudgement and support is what makes mentoring so effective.

The impact of mentoring was directly highlighted in the Care Review, stating, “Mentoring has a significant positive impact on children and young people who receive it, with evidence that it can improve educational attainment. Schools must be supported to encourage and develop mentoring relationships for those who would benefit.”

In 2020, Scotcen, Scotland’s leading social research institute, released their three year study which rigorously analysed the impact of MCR mentoring.

The study found that mentoring makes a dramatic and statistical significance on care-experienced young people’s education outcomes, including a 25.3 percentage point increase in the number of care-experienced young people progressing to a university, college or a job. In another measure, the attainment gap was closed.

The Heart of Our Vision

When MCR Pathways was founded more than 12 years ago, the challenge was obvious. Despite their talents and through no fault of their own, care-experienced young people were being let down. The Care Review shows - despite the thousands of passionate individuals working hard every day for those in care - that Scotland is still continuously failing it’s most disadvantaged children, young people and adults.

By prioritising relationships and empowering the wider community to love and look after those in care, we can change this reality. Education is an essential part of this scaffolding of support.

Mentoring creates these essential personal, caring relationships with young people in schools, at scale. We are now supporting more than 2,300 young people each week and the power of mentoring is now being felt across the nation.This is why we are focused on the implementation of the model across the country and transferring it into public ownership.

We will continue to work for, and with, care-experienced young people everyday. Their voices will be central to our growth and continuous improvement. We promise not to stop until every care-experienced and disadvantaged young person in Scotland is supported to find, grow and use their talents.

The Government is now being called on to simply make MCR mentoring a permanent feature of the education system and a right for every care-experienced pupil. The Care Review has emphasised the necessity of incorporating education, third sector and other caring adults into the reformed structure of Scotland’s Care System and mentoring is an essential part of this delivery.

Can you become a mentor and #BeTheBridge?

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