Children's right to be loved, safe and respected

Jackie Irvine

Jackie Irvine, Chief Social Work Officer, Service Director of Children’s and Criminal Justice Services for the City of Edinburgh Council, writes in today's Evening News about Edinburgh’s Promise.

All our children and young people have the right to be loved, safe and respected.

Two years ago, The Promise report, written following Scotland’s Independent Care Review, was published.

It highlighted that the care system was neither one which offered the care needed, nor in its fragmented way was a joined-up system.  

Regrettably in Edinburgh we know that we have not always got it right for children and are determined to keep The Promise.

The Council, NHS Lothian and other key partners, through the Edinburgh Children’s Partnership are now delivering change through our response– Edinburgh’s Promise.

Although a great deal of our focus is rightly on ensuring we do the best to support families to keep children at home and in their communities and, those children and young people who cannot live at home with parents – known as being care experienced – Edinburgh’s Promise has a vision that all of Edinburgh’s Children will be loved, safe and respected. This will mean a clear focus on the right support, at the right time for families for as long as they need it.

Edinburgh’s Promise has already merged with our existing work on working alongside, not doing things to, and listening to our children, young people, parents and carers. Our restorative approach.

This is not an easy task, when those involved are by the nature of their work coming into private family lives – something we all cherish and value – to offer help and support to ensure children are thriving.

This work often involves working with children and adults who have experienced events that we all would identify as being traumatic.

Trauma is unfortunately prevalent in our society and Edinburgh is no different to other areas of Scotland. Part of Edinburgh’s Promise is to ensure that we offer, across all our children’s services, a trauma informed response that meets people where they are and that offers a consistent approach through five principles: safety, trust, collaboration, choice and empowerment. Edinburgh’s Promise has put into place guidance for all children’s services that follow these key principles. 

Part of the concern shared in the Promise is that the care system had lost sight of children and their families in the language that those working with them all too often use. This is the language of referring to certain events, such as contact when children see their parents, or respite when children are cared for away from home.

Edinburgh’s Promise has listened to the voices of children, young people, parents and carers and has provided to those working with them some guidance on not just swapping new words for old, but focussing on what works for children and their families, and what words they want to use to describe the events and people in their lives.

This will be a journey of transformation, from which we aspire to deliver an improved system of support and care.  

We need to build on our strengths. This includes expanding our existing offer to young people who are living with foster carers to remain in that care for longer into adulthood, where Edinburgh already has the highest rates of ‘continuing care’ placements in Scotland.

Keeping Edinburgh’s Promise needs to be everyone’s commitment to support and do the right thing for children and their families.


Published: April 6th 2022