Nicola Sturgeon has promised a “transformation in the culture of care” following a damning report that highlighted the “separation, trauma, stigma and pain” in the system.
The First Minister said the report into the economic and human cost of people who have been in care showed “we let too many of them down”.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said it was “one of the most significant reports” MSPs will read, and sets out a radical blueprint for changing the care system in Scotland.
Reflecting on the meetings she has had with care-experienced young people, Ms Sturgeon said: “I will carry these conversations in my heart for the rest of my life.
“To be blunt, we let too many of them down. They pay the price of that for the rest of their lives and in too many instances the price can be a life cut short.
“The statistics have always told us that, but in this report we hear it directly from the young people we have a responsibility for.
“I have also heard far too many heart-breaking stories, because – despite the best efforts and attention of everyone involved – the actual experience of too many people in care is not what they have the right to expect.
“The world described in today’s report, of a care system that feels fractured, bureaucratic, unfeeling, stigmatising and mired in impersonal language like ‘placements’, ‘contact’ and ‘respite’ to describe what should be loving relationships is one that I have had recounted to me many times.
“That must change.”
The Independent Care Review’s report made 80 recommendations, which Sturgeon said she is “determined to get on at pace with implementing”.
She added: “Today’s report leaves no room for doubt that we must do more and we must do it more fundamentally, more systematically and more quickly.
“Radical overhaul is what the review demands and that is what we have a duty to deliver.”
The Government plan to set up an independent team “within weeks” tasked with turning the report into a “detailed delivery plan”.
Sturgeon also announced the creation of an independent oversight body, with board members who have experienced care.
Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr pledged to support the Government in delivering the objectives and praised the testimony of the 5,500 people who contributed to the report.
He added: “It is clear that what has emerged can positively change things for children and young people.
“Young people in the care system need a great deal more than simply the best wishes of this chamber, they need concrete action to transform their lives for the better and to live up to the promise that I hope and expect every party will rightly make here today.”
Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray also welcomed the report and praised Ms Sturgeon, saying her “personal investment in this issue is very clear and very much to her credit”.