Scotland Policy Conferences

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Improving provision for children in care in Scotland - next steps following the Independent Care Review

Morning, Tuesday, 8th December 2020

Online Conference

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the priorities for improving provision for children in care, and care leavers, in Scotland.

With a keynote contribution from Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, it is bringing together key stakeholders with policymakers to discuss key findings from the Independent Care Review, launched by the Government.

The Review examined the current system, produced proposals for its reform, and made recommendations on the level of investment required.

We expect discussion to focus on the way forward for implementing the Review’s recommendations in five key areas following the recent establishment of an Independent Oversight Body - The Promise - to oversee the Review’s implementation, including ensuring that:

  • children within the system are listened to and have a means of contributing to decisions made about their care
  • children are safe in their families and that they are supported to overcome difficulties to be part of a caring, nurturing environment
  • the quality of care for children not living with families improves, and that children stay with siblings where it is safe to do so and as part of loving home
  • relationships can be developed between children in care, the care workforce and the wider community
  • a ‘scaffolding’ is put in place to support those in the care system, with effective help and accountability measures

We are pleased to have a keynote address from Fiona Duncan, who has been appointed as chair of the oversight body to implement review of care, The Promise.

The conference will be an opportunity to assess progress in putting together an independent team and a work programme - and establishing a cross sector multi-agency plan for implementation, which is due by November 2020.

Also making keynote contributions are: Tam Baillie, Chair, A Way Home Scotland Coalition and Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland 2009-2017; and Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, The Scottish Government.

Further developments that are relevant to the discussion:

  • A multi-agency plan to implement the Review’s key recommendations expected by November 2020, which will include headline priorities for the period between 2021 and 2024, a midpoint review to assess progress expected by 2027 and full implementation of all targets by 2030
  • The impact of COVID-19 on the provision for children in care - and those delivering care, and the children and households receiving services - as agencies and others involved seek to maintain necessary levels of accountability and help where needed whilst meeting current regulations
  • Continuation of the Scottish Child Abuse Enquiry, which will examine the abuse of children in care
  • The Government consultation on children in care hearings, which will examine the raising the age at which a young person can be referred to a children’s hearing from 16 to 18

The discussion in detail:

Reforming the care system - developing a multi-agency approach, early intervention and funding

  • the implementation of the Review’s key findings and how to create a better support network for children
  • how further co-ordination and collaboration can be developed between:
    • local authorities, education providers, health services, and the voluntary sector in supporting those in care, whilst retaining a level of flexibility which best provides for the unique individual needs of looked after children and foster families
    • the Care Inspectorate, Scottish Social Services Council and other regulators - with the Review calling on these bodies to come together to establish an holistic framework
  • improving the effectiveness of early intervention and prevention for children in care so that:
    • pressure on the system is reduced, to the point of allowing crisis and acute care services to be phased out
    • enabling the care system to move away from a ‘sticking plaster’ approach to finance and a reassessment of how money flows in and out of the system

Workforce issues

  • next steps for addressing the workforce challenges faced in the social care sector in Scotland, including:
    • the COVID-19 pandemic
    • the likely impact of changes to the immigration system following Brexit
  • progress so far in tackling recruitment and retention issues
  • potential strategies for widening workforce diversity
  • how to improve workforce development and training, with the Review having heard the views of all sections of the workforce - both unpaid and paid

Incorporating young people’s views into their care and reforming the Children’s Hearing System

  • how to create more opportunities for the voices of children to be heard on their care, with the Review recommending that The Scottish Government creates legislation which supports families remaining together, based on the UN Convention of the Rights of Child
  • proposals to reform the Children’s Hearing System, with both children and families expressing concern to the Review surrounding how it currently operates
  • how the system can be streamlined and encouraged to specialise, as recommended by the Review and how to ensure that children and families have the right to independent advocacy

Children leaving care

  • Improving provision for care leavers, looking at:
    • developing an effective multi-agency approach to support those leaving care
    • how to effectively utilise the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant with the Review calling for more support for children up to the age of 25
  • the way forward for developing stronger structures to support progression to further and higher education, and expanding effective pathways into employment

The agenda:

  • The Independent Care Review - key findings and establishing The Promise - with Fiona Duncan, Chair, The Promise Oversight Board; Chair, The Independent Care Review
  • Reviewing the current standard of care provision and next steps in developing a holistic approach - with Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, The Scottish Government
  • Improving the care experience for children - the support scaffolding, workforce development, and securing better outcomes
  • Building a system that listens to the needs of children - with Tam Baillie, Chair, A Way Home Scotland Coalition
  • Reforming the care system - building children’s voices into decision making, supporting a positive environment for young people to live in, and improving support for families and carers
  • The future vision for the care system - with Maree Todd MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, The Scottish Government

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from The Scottish Government and Education Scotland.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

Maree Todd MSP

Minister for Children and Young People, The Scottish Government

Keynote Speakers

Iona Colvin

Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government

Tam Baillie

Chair, A Way Home Scotland Coalition and Children and Young People Commissioner for Scotland 2009–2017

Fiona Duncan

Chair, The Promise Oversight Board; Chair, The Independent Care Review and Chief Executive Officer, The Corra Foundation

Maree Todd MSP

Minister for Children and Young People, The Scottish Government


Lisa Johnstone MSP

Co-Convenor, Cross Party Group on Children and Young People

Alex Neil MSP

Member, Education and Skills Committee


Elaine Hamilton

Service Manager, Nether Johnstone House Childcare Services

Lorraine Gray

Chief Executive, Scottish Social Services Council

Elliot Jackson

National Convener and Chief Executive, Children’s Hearings Scotland

Claire Burns

Director, Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection

Martin Crewe

Director, Barnardos Scotland

John Docherty

Headteacher, Largs Academy

Dr Helen Whincup

Senior Lecturer, Social Work, University of Stirling