Blog: Keeping the Promise

Keeping the Promise

Fiona Duncan on the Scottish Government announcement to establish an independent oversight body to ensure The Promise is kept in the way that the Care Review envisaged and her decision to become Chair.

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Fiona Duncan at Dundee Roadshow

Fiona Duncan

Between 2017 and 2020, I chaired the Independent Care Review as it worked to establish what Scotland had to do to ensure its most vulnerable children are loved, safe and respected and can realise their full potential.

In early February 2020, the Care Review published its final reports to the full support of Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament.

Scotland recognised the need for urgent change and committed to #KeepThePromise.

Today the Scottish Government announced the next stage; the establishment of an independent oversight board specifically focused on ensuring The Promise is kept in the way that the Care Review envisaged, through listening to care experienced people and the wider sector.

The board will ensure the integrity of the work undertaken across Scotland to deliver the Care Review, and will develop, approve and monitor targets to ensure The Promise is kept.

Progress made will be communicated widely and transparently by the Board which, most importantly, will continue to be driven by the voice of care experience with at least 50% membership from the care community.

I have been asked to Chair the board and I’ve accepted. But before saying yes, I asked myself a lot of questions and did a lot of thinking.

The Care Review asked care experienced children, adults and families to share their stories knowing it wouldn’t necessarily change their experiences but could make the world of difference for others.

I have heard stories of pain and injustice, of home and not-home, of safety and comfort – and they will never leave me, nor do I want them to. The last three years have changed me.

That so many people shared so much, so readily and so often, left me with a profound sense of responsibility. Having charted the direction of the Care Review, I feel a responsibility to ensure that all those stories shape the future.

Listening to all those with experience of Scotland’s system of care was at the heart of the Care Review. It’s vital that listening and engagement continues, and that will include the workforce.

I did also wonder – could three years of me asking ‘the system’ difficult and awkward questions hinder their cooperation?  Wouldn’t it be better to hand over the baton?

Everyone involved in the review was determined that its conclusions could not be announced to great fanfare and then quietly put on a shelf. Instead the end of the Care Review had to mark the beginning of another step towards great – and shamefully overdue – change.

Achieving this will require carefully thought through approaches, led by those with lived experience of care across the full spectrum of local and national government and the wider sector.

Ultimately, the decision to accept the role of Chair of the oversight board is my personal commitment to playing my part in supporting the change required, and rooting it in the approach that characterised the Care Review.

Today’s announcement comes with a loud and clear Scottish Government commitment that implementation of The Promise will cut across Government and directly link in with all policy areas; just as the lives of care experienced children and adults do. And it’s ready to go with a full package of Scottish Government support and connections including with the Chief Design Officer to ensure the services and supports that are put in place as part of keeping The Promise are fit for purpose and the very best they can be.

The response to The Promise from so many institutions and organisations was incredible. There was no finger-pointing, no blame, no shirking of responsibility – instead there is a desire to work together, for better.

Coupled with the commitments made by Scottish Government to implement the Care Review wholly and completely in the way that was originally envisaged, I am reassured that Scotland is primed and ready to make the necessary change.

I don’t make promises lightly and I won’t let down the thousands of people who, over the past three years, have shared with the Care Review some of the most personal experiences.

A promise was made to our children and I intend to see that Scotland keeps it.

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