Date lodged: 3 April 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to reports that the rate of looked-after children per 10,000 children in Scotland is higher than that for the rest of the UK.
Answered by: Maree Todd 1 May 2018
When considering comparisons of looked after populations between individual countries within the UK, it should be borne in mind that differences exist between the legislations and social work systems of each country, as well as the categorisations of looked after status.
Differences in the figures for Scotland and the rest of the UK can be explained in two ways.
Firstly, in contrast with the rest of the UK, Scotland’s definition of looked after children is broader as children placed at home in Scotland under a supervision order are considered to be in the care of the local authority. Scotland gathers data on this population of children looked after at home and includes these in its looked after statistics; the other UK administrations do not. Further information on comparability of statistics between the UK administrations can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats .
Secondly, if we were to compare only those children who are looked after away from home the figure for Scotland would remain slightly higher. This, however, reflects the Scottish Government’s early intervention approach and our commitment to identifying and acting more quickly to support children and families at risk - ensuring that children receive the right support at the right time - as well as the extended support we offer to young people in receipt of aftercare up to the age of twenty-six.
Ultimately, the picture presented by our statistics is a positive one. The total number of looked after children fell by 3% last year and is in its 5 th consecutive year of decline; the number of children looked after at home continues to fall, and placement stability and permanence are also improving.