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No Mummy's Kisses...

Children’s needs are - or at least should be - our overwhelming priority.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024
3.5 mins

No Mummy’s Kisses, and No Daddy’s Smiles

by Eva Comrie

It was the classic horrible tearjerker of Scottish Hogmanays and house parties in the 60s. How grim that today, long after the passing of the Alexander Brothers, there remain thousands of ‘Nobody’s Children’ in Scotland.

Many like me have spent a lifetime hoping for transformational change; the announcement by the former FM of the Independent Care Review was most welcome. The apparent failure on the part of the Scottish Government to provide sufficient resources, including funding and personnel, to deliver The Promise which was the result of that review is at best pitiful and at worst suggests that for some at least this may have been a vanity project.

This is simply unacceptable, especially in a land of plenty where in recent years political priorities have been at times highly questionable.

£60 odd million was squandered on DRS; HPMAs – who knows the waste there thus far? The reverse wind auction? Nobody mentions GRR for beyond the hundreds of thousands of pounds of legal expense there has been immeasurable cost across all areas for writing and implementing guidance which is not lawful and will have to be reviewed. I include in this the horrendous Transgender Guidance for Prisons, Hospitals and Schools.

Experts - most especially those who spent time in foster care or were adopted - gave of themselves in The Promise; testimony and research were invaluable in providing a blueprint for change. Its delivery cannot be allowed to slip because those who are in the care system now deserve our full urgent attention and care. They are innocents and if our Scottish society cannot prioritise the needs of vulnerable children and secure their futures then this country is not fit for the 21st century, let alone to drive for the independence we so desperately need.

£80 billion of revenue will be generated from our North Sea resources in the next handful of years. If The Promise is not delivered millions will be spent on dealing with the adversities which arise from family breakdown, poverty, poor outcomes, trauma, homelessness, criminality, addictions and loss of prospects, ill health and premature death. These are the characteristics of a life in care - not because it is predetermined but because there is a lack of political will to create the transformational change needed in Scotland.

There is a shortage of children’s social workers in Scotland; councils are paying through the nose for agency workers; record numbers of babies are born of mothers addicted to drugs; the Children’s Hearing system introduced as the results of the work of Lord Kilbrandon has laudable worthwhile aims, but changes of personnel, lack of continuity and drift when there are unclear plans for children’s futures mean that too many of our young people live in a legal limbo. The system is in a crisis from which it will not escape until there is secure guaranteed funding and an agreement from all political parties that children’s needs are the overwhelming priority.

Children in Clackmannanshire who cannot stay safely at home currently face the prospect of a foster ‘placement’ some three hours drive from home, inevitably leading to a change of school and the diminution of contact with family and friends.

And so I return to where I began – to ‘brothers’ – The Promise understood and promoted the notion that siblings stay together if they have to leave home, and if they cannot stay together they must see each other often. Despite this aim, there remain hundreds of children in care in Scotland today who miss their brothers and sisters dearly, haven’t seen them for months, who aren’t sure when they will meet again and who have to write out their views for a Children’s panel to discuss and a social worker to implement ‘family time’ – will it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually? Might there be adoption by different new sets of parents with no guaranteed post adoption sibling contact ?

In common with every lawyer colleague I ever had, every social worker and Sheriff I have ever worked with, or opposed, I hope that Humza Yousaf can find the funding, the resources and the support to implement  The Promise in full – so that each of Scotland’s children can say – I’m just like all the other kids – there’ll be a home for me.

No Mummy’s Kisses, No Daddy’s Smiles – One-legged woman speaks (oneleggedwomanspeaks.uk)

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