Digital connection and inclusion should be a basic right for care leavers

New research published by CELCIS shows the impact of digital inclusion and exclusion on care leavers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Young people with experience of care have told researchers how not having reliable access to digital technology has affected their lives over the course of the pandemic and the value of staying connected.

The digital divide: The impact on the rights of care leavers in Scotland, published today (28 January 2021), explains how the experiences of care experienced people during this time have exposed and exacerbated how vital digital access is in everyday lives.

Access is recognised as a requirement of modern life, and those who struggle to access online spaces and use technology can face a range of real barriers and disadvantages including loss of social connection, being prevented from studying or working, and an inability to access financial and health information and services. The report highlights that for young people to fully participate in the life of the nation and in their communities through active citizenship, such barriers must be addressed. The research further supports calls to see access to digital technology and safe online spaces as a basic human right.

The findings of the research, carried out in Scotland by CELCIS and the University of Edinburgh, builds on a study undertaken earlier in the pandemic of the experiences of people working to provide digital devices and support from 17 local authority areas across Scotland.

The recommendations from the research briefing reiterate and build on those resulting from the earlier study and include:

  • Rolling out digital access for all care leavers by integrating this into the pathway planning and support processes in all local authorities
  • Upskilling workers to ensure they can better support young people to develop their digital skills

28 January 2021