The bill was passed with 103 MSPs voting for it and with 15 abstentions
The legislation – which was put forward by the Scottish government in a bid to support its aim of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up - will see hundreds of Scotland’s most vulnerable young people given greater rights to continue their care placement into early adulthood from next year.
From April 2015, teenagers in residential, foster or kinship care who turn 16 will be entitled to remain looked after until the age of 21 under new provisions proposed for the Children and Young People Bill.
This increased support, to be funded by £5 million a year up to 2020, is in addition to the Scottish Government’s recent commitment to provide support up to the age of 26-years-old for care leavers to help them move into independent living.
South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine was among those congratulated by children’s charities for their work bringing the Bill into law.
A celebration at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh was held by Who Cares? Scotland last Wednesday evening to thank the Education and Culture Committee - of which Ms McAlpine is a member - for their scrutiny of the Bill.
The south of Scotland MSP commented:
“Giving young people the right to stay in care until the age of 21 will transform lives – as a number of children’s organisations including Barnardo’s Scotland have pointed out. This change, as well as the commitment to provide better support for care leavers, underlines the SNP’s commitment to ensure all children in Scotland are given the chance to fulfil their potential. It is a landmark moment for Scotland’s looked after children.”
The wide ranging legislation will also offer benefits to families such as the extension of free childcare for three, four and vulnerable two-year-olds, from 475 to 600 hours - around 16 hours per week - from August.
Ms McAlpine said:
“We want to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. At the heart of the SNP’s plan for independence is a commitment to a universal childcare system, starting from the age of one. The proposals outlined in Scotland’s Future to expand childcare to 1,140 hours will save families up to £4,600 per child; £770m a year overall.
“Transforming childcare will give more parents – particularly women - the opportunity to work. But only Independence will give us the full powers we need to ensure that the tax revenue raised in Scotland stays in Scotland, instead of going to the Westminster Treasury. This revenue can then be invested in our children’s future.”