Skip to content.

Keeping The Promise to infants in Scotland

Actions needed to deliver The Promise for 0–3-year-olds

Publication date April 2023

In early 2020, the Scottish Independent Care Review published its findings, recommendations and a plan to meet these1.

We explore what it means in practice to implement the Scottish Independent Care Review recommendations for an age group that is often overlooked: infants aged 0-3 years, the youngest and some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland.

This report focuses on the fundamental principles and priority areas contained in the first Promise Implementation Plan2. Taking each of these in turn, the report:

  • looks at what implementation means for infants - what do services and policy makers need to do 
  • prompts questions around service planning, decision-making and practice to support a constructive critique of processes 
  • shares examples of good practice. 

We’ve focused on local implementation, describing what this means for the very youngest, including pre-verbal, children, to ensure that the perspectives and needs of infants are at the heart of the transformation of service design and delivery. 

Authors: Susan Galloway and Rachel Love


Independent Care Review (2020) The Promise. [Accessed 17/10/2023].
The Promise Scotland (2021) Plan 21-24 [Accessed 11/04/2023].
Keeping The promise to infants in Scotland
Download the report (PDF)

Key message

Infants’ experiences, needs and rights must inform care planning, decision-making, and service delivery

The specific rights and needs of infants must be differentiated from those of older children and must be acted upon. Those in policy, planning and decision-making roles need to be knowledgeable about the principles of infant mental health, child development and the impact of trauma in infancy.

Further messages

Families struggling with pregnancies must receive the help and support they need, as early as possible

Intensive community-based support in early pregnancy should be available to all expectant mothers and partners who need it.

The children’s services workforce must be supported and enabled to meaningfully access the voice of infants

Careful interpretation of infant behaviour takes time, sensitivity, critical thinking, observation in different contexts, and testing out in the context of the child’s care relationships.

The needs and rights of infants should be at the heart of reforms to the Children’s Hearings System

Scotland’s Hearings System must be consistent in its ability to make legal decisions about the care of infants within their developmental timescales and must also contain significant expertise on infant mental health, child development and early trauma.

A healthy safe start for infants with additional needs requires all services to be attuned to their rights

For example, domestic abuse services should include interventions to promote the mutual recovery of mothers and infants, and support infant-mother attachment. Homelessness services should provide pathways to enhanced support for mothers with infants.

"It’s very easy in our systems for infants to get a bit lost. This report shines a light on the needs of wee ones and the importance of their rights and voice above all others."

Consultant Clinical Psychologist NPSCC's Glasgow Infant and Family Service
Keeping The Promise to infants in Scotland
Download the report (PDF)


Please cite as: Galloway, S. and Love, R. (2023) Keeping The Promise to infants, 0-3 years. London: NSPCC.