Scotland's new centre for improving the lives of looked after children, and enhancing their future prospects, was launched today (Wednesday 28 September).
The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) will support parents, carers, care professionals, health workers and teachers to strengthen the welfare of children in all care settings. These include fostering, residential care and kinship care and also cover those leaving care.
CELCIS succeeds, and expands on the remit of, the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care, a partnership between the University of Strathclyde, Robert Gordon University, Langside College and Who Cares? Scotland, set up by the Scottish Government in 2000 to improve outcomes for children and young people in residential care.
Based at Strathclyde, the Centre will enable the various settings and systems working with them to collaborate more closely, as many children and young people can be involved in more than one of them throughout their care journey. CELCIS will also ensure individual children's needs are at the centre of its aims.
The number of children looked after by local authorities increased by 4% between March 2009 and July 2010, to 15892.
Minister for Children and Young People Angela Constance MSP is to attend today's launch at the Merchant Halls in Edinburgh. She said: "The launch of the Centre for Excellence marks another milestone on the road to significant improvements in the care system that ensures the interests of children are at the heart of everything we do.
"These measures demonstrate our commitment to improving the life chances of all of Scotland's looked after children and young people and the new centre will play a pivotal role in helping achieve that ambition.''
CELCIS Director Jennifer Davidson said: "Looked after children and young people urgently need the very best support that services can provide, so that their present circumstances can be as enriching and supportive as possible and they can look forward to a fulfilling future.
"CELCIS will offer and facilitate a wealth of knowledge and experience to everyone working with, and caring for, these children. It will be a forum where they can share their expertise in care to strengthen the increasingly high quality of services for these children and young people.
"The nature of the care these young people receive may differ but their needs and aspirations are our primary concern- the better co-ordinated the planning of services and the stronger the support they receive, the greater their chances are of leading contented, settled lives."
Romy Langeland, Visiting Professor in Strathclyde's Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences and chair of CELSIS, said: ‘'The new centre is a great opportunity for those who work with looked after children and young people to share our knowledge and resources most effectively.
"Children who have had a disadvantaged start in life are likely to need a bit more help to achieve their potential, to have the best of health and to do well educationally. CELCIS will make a real difference by bringing all the agencies and professions together to share perspectives and to work in partnership."
The priorities of CELCIS will include support and promotion of:
- local authorities and partner agencies acting as ‘corporate parents' for looked after children
- the role of families and communities for looked after children
- planning for the care and transition of looked after children
- issues relating to diversity and disability
- the human rights of looked after children across policies and services
- continued development of high quality leadership across services
It will also offer training and learning opportunities to students and existing care professionals, carry out consultancy work- including service review and development- support policy implementation and conduct research to shape and inform practice.
Robert Gordon University's role in the partnership is primarily to deliver a professional social work qualification in residential childcare that is offered on a distance learning basis to students in employment within relevant settings in Scotland. This degree programme also leads to the award of a BA in Social Pedagogy upon completing the third stage of the four year BA honours course.
Terry McLean, Associate Head of School at the university's School of Applied Social Studies said: "This is a very important development for both the provision of expert care for disadvantaged children in Scotland and also for the social work profession. We are delighted to continue to contribute to the programme in its new form."
The establishment of a new centre for excellence for looked after children was announced in February 2011 by the then Minister for Children and Young People, Adam Ingram MSP.
The Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland will be based within Strathclyde's Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, the largest Faculty in the University. The Faculty is delivering high quality education and internationally recognised research across a spectrum of disciplines including Law, Government and Public Policy, English, History, Languages, Social Work, Teacher Education and Psychological Sciences & Health. More at: www.strath.ac.uk/humanities/
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