Publication - Statistics

Chidren's Social Work Statistics 2002-03

Published: 31 Oct 2003
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Statistics

Statistics on child protection, children looked after, children in residential accommodation, social work staff and finance in Scotland

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Chidren's Social Work Statistics 2002-03
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Statistics Publication Notice

Health and Care Series
(online)ISSN 1479-7569

CHILDREN'S SOCIAL WORK STATISTICS 2002-03

31 October 2003

A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication

This document is also available in pdf format (328k)

This publication pulls together statistics on child protection, children looked after, children in residential accommodation, social work staff and finance in Scotland covering the year ended 31 March 2003. Headline messages are:

  • Almost 11,400 children were looked after by local authorities at 31 March 2003. This represents one per cent of all children under 18, and is a similar figure to the previous year.
  • Of 16 and 17 year old care leavers in 2002-03, six out of ten did not achieve any qualifications - a similar proportion to the previous year, and compares to less than ten per cent for Scotland as a whole.
  • Around 60 per cent of young people leaving care were not in education, employment or training. This compares to 14 per cent of all 16-19 year olds in Scotland.
  • There was a slight drop (four per cent) in the number of children in residential accommodation. This was due to the fall in numbers resident in homes for children with a disability: 40 per cent lower than 2002.
  • There were 2,289 children on local child protection registers at 31 March 2003, an increase of 13 per cent on the previous year. The largest increase was in the category of 'emotional abuse', from 264 children in 2002 to 408 in 2003.
  • Social care staff numbers were similar in 2002 to 2001, however the level of vacancies increased by around a third. This suggests a four per cent increase in posts - mainly in fieldwork.
  • Overall spending by local authorities in 2001-02 amounted to 300 for each child aged 0-17 in Scotland.

CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER

1.1 Almost 11,400 children were looked after by local authorities at 31 March 2003. This represents one per cent of all children under 18, and is a similar figure to the previous year. This headline figure fell relatively steadily from the early 70s, when it was above 20,000 until the mid-90s. It has remained fairly constant since then.

1.2 The proportion of children looked after in the population varied considerably between local authority areas, with East Renfrewshire having the fewest and Glasgow City the most, at three and 21 per 1,000 population aged 0-17, respectively.

1.3 There is a lot of churn in the system. There were over 4,500 instances of children starting to be looked after in 2002-03. This represents 40 per cent of children looked after (in March 2003) nationally, with significant local variation: from over 100 per cent in Moray to around 20 per cent in East Renfrewshire and West Lothian.

1.4 The level churn is reducing: in the last year there was a fall of more than a quarter of the number of children who were looked after for less than 6 weeks. Of the children living away from home, almost three quarters have been so for more than a year, and around a quarter have had more than 3 placements.

1.5 Two per cent of looked after children were from minority ethnic groups, compared to three per cent of the population. Also in March 2003 there were 14 per cent of looked after children who had a disability.

1.6 In 2002-03, there was a drop of 3 per cent in children looked after who live in residential accommodation, continuing the trend over the last 15 years (though this only accounts for one in seven looked after children). A further one in seven were living with friends/relatives: 11 per cent above the previous year, and an increase of almost 50 per cent in the last two years.

OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER

1.7 Of 16 and 17 year old care leavers in 2002-03, six out of ten did not achieve any qualifications - a similar proportion to the previous year. Around 50 per cent of leavers who had been looked after away from home got some qualifications compared to 30 per cent of those looked after at home. Again similar to the previous year, 26 per cent got both English and maths at standard grade.

1.8 During 2002-03, around 1,500 people in Scotland left care and were eligible for throughcare and aftercare support

1.9 Around half of people leaving care have a care plan and a key worker.

1.10 Over one in five young people experienced a period of homelessness in the year after leaving care. However, very few leavers had more than two periods of homelessness.

1.11 Around 40 per cent of leavers remained in the accommodation they were in during their last spell of care, and another 30 per cent moved just once. Around one in ten leavers moved more than three times

1.12 Around half of young people receiving aftercare are living with parents or relatives, though this proportion decreases significantly with age, from 60 per cent of 15 year olds to 20 per cent of 18 year olds

1.13 Around 60 per cent of young people receiving aftercare were not in education, employment or training. This compares to 14 per cent of all 16-19 year olds in Scotland.

1.14 There were 13 per cent of 18 year olds who were in higher education, and around a quarter were in employment or training. Very few 18 year olds were in school or (non-vocational) further education.

1.15 The proportion of people with whom the social work department had lost touch increased with the length of time since leaving care (as may be expected), from 13 per cent of those leaving care the previous three months, to 22 per cent of those leaving nine months ago.

YOUNG PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL ACCOMMODATION

2.1 There were 201 establishments providing residential accommodation for children, down from 205 places the previous year. Most of these centres are children's homes run by local authorities. However, the voluntary sector runs 48 residential care centres and the private sector runs 18.

2.2 Children's homes and homes for children with a disability have an average of 6 places per establishment, compared to the much larger residential schools with around 30 places in each.

2.3 Residential schools have a much slower turnover of children (1.2 admissions per resident) compared to children's homes (3 admissions per resident) and in particular homes for children with a disability (48 admissions per resident). This is because children with a disability often attend for repeated short planned stays.

2.4 There was a significant drop in the numbers resident in homes for children with a disability (over 40 per cent lower than in 2002). This explains the fall of 20 per cent in admissions to and discharges from residential care during 2002-03.

2.5 In March 2003, private sector homes were running at much lower capacity (residents taking up 76% of total places) than establishments run by local authorities (93% capacity) and the voluntary sector (95% capacity).

2.6 There is significant variation between local authority areas in the age and gender of children entering residential accommodation, and in the average length of stay. This will reflect that authorities work closely together to offer accommodation rather than just relying on homes in their area.

YOUNG PEOPLE IN SECURE ACCOMMODATION

2.7 There were 96 places in secure accommodation in 2002-03 delivered by six providers. This was exactly the same level as the previous year.

chart

2.8 There was an average of 92 residents in secure accommodation in 2002-03, however this varied from 83 to 105 during the year. This means, for Scotland as a whole, there were 37 days over capacity and a further 23 days at capacity during the year. It is clear from the chart above that there was significant pressure on the system in summer 2002, however demand was at or below capacity between August 2002 and March 2003.

2.9 There was significant variation in demand across Scotland. Four authorities averaged one or less admission per 10,000 12-16 year olds (Clackmannanshire, East Renfrewshire, Eilean Siar, & Orkney), compared to Dundee and Edinburgh with around 25 admissions per 10,000 - much higher than any other parts of Scotland. This suggests different inherent needs in different parts of Scotland (which may explain part of the variation), but it also suggests differences in policy or practice between areas.

2.10 Of the 90 children in secure accommodation in March 2003 in Scotland, 28 were based in their home authority, 19 in a neighbouring authority and another 22 were within approximately 50 miles. This means that 21 (23 per cent) were more than 50 miles from home.

2.11 There were 258 admissions to secure accommodation in 2002-03. Three quarters were boys; two thirds were through children's hearings and one third through courts; a quarter came from their parental home, a quarter from residential schools and a fifth from children's homes. Average age was 14 years and four months. Older people tended to come from other secure care or young offenders institutions and do so through courts. Younger people tended to come from foster care or children's homes and do so through children's hearings.

2.12 In 2002-03 over a fifth of admissions were from people who had had a previous spell in secure care - similar to previous years. The gap between spells of secure care has steadily increased, from under 2 months in 1995-96 to 5 months in 2002-03. This information combined with the increasing length of stay suggests secure providers are hanging on to children that they suspect will return quickly. These children tend to be older, but are similar in other ways to children in their first spell of secure care.

2.13 In 2002-03, admissions increased by 12 per cent, but there were virtually the same number of admissions (258) as discharges (260). While there is an increase over the last couple of years, admissions are at a similar level to the late 1990s. The main groups that have increased numbers of admissions in 2002-03 are

  • Boys, particularly aged 14 and 15 (up over 50%)
  • Through courts - nearly doubled. Now 80 admissions, which is the highest level ever
  • From parental home (45% up) and other secure accommodation (100% up).

2.14 The average length of stay in 2002-03 was just under 5 months (139 days). This was similar to the previous year but higher than years before that. Length of stay doesn't vary by age, but those coming through from children's hearings stay a month longer on average than those coming through courts. In 2002-03, there were increases in two groups - those staying for less than a month (16 people were only in secure for a day, and 35 for less than 1 week), and those staying for more than a year.

2.15 A third of all leavers in 2002-03 returned to the same type of placement as they were in before being admitted to secure. A quarter of leavers go to their parental home and a quarter to residential schools.

2.16 There were 436 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff in March 2003, an increase of four per cent on the previous year. This means for each place, there are on average the equivalent of 4.5 WTE staff.

CHILD PROTECTION

3.1 There were 2,289 children on local child protection registers at 31 March 2003; this is an increase of 271 (13 per cent) on the number one year previously. Of these, just over half were girls and nearly eight in ten were under the age of 11.

3.2 Just over 8,000 children were referred to local authorities for child protection inquiries in 2002-03: 12 per cent higher than the previous year.

3.3 Of those children referred to local authorities, just under 40 per cent were the subject of an inter-agency case conference.

3.4 In almost 90 per cent of instances where children were subject to a case conference, the children in question were living at home prior to being referred.

3.5 Of these case conferences, over three quarters resulted in the child being placed on the local child protection register (2,446 children).

3.6 In over three quarters of all case conferences, the primary source of abuse/risk to the child was known or suspected to be the child's birth parent(s).

3.7 Between 2001-02 and 2002-03, there was an increase in the number of children added to the register for each category of abuse (physical injury, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect and other types of abuse). Of these, the largest percentage of children were registered for physical neglect (946 children; 39 per cent of the total), and this figure has increased by 70 per cent since 2000-01. The largest increase between 2001-02 and 2002-03 was in children registered for emotional abuse, from 264 to 408 children.

3.8 Almost three quarters of children removed from child protection registers during 2002-03 had been on the register for less than a year, and the number who has been on the register for more than a year fell by ten per cent between 2001-02 and 2002-03.

RESOURCES

4.1 Local authority social work departments employ around 5,700 social care staff providing services for children (whole time equivalents (WTEs)): 3,300 fieldwork WTEs, 500 WTEs providing daycare, and 2,000 WTEs providing residential care.

4.2 Social care staff numbers were similar in 2002 to 2001, however the level of vacancies increased by around a third. This suggests a four per cent increase in posts - mainly in fieldwork.

4.3 Vacancies now account for 13 per cent of all posts, but varied significantly for the different services. Vacancy rates were highest for residential care staff, in particular assistant unit managers (vacancies were 29% of all posts), and support staff (vacancies were 34% of all posts).

4.4 Some authorities have significant levels of vacancies: Glasgow and Shetland have over a fifth of posts vacant, compared to five authorities with less than one in twenty vacant. There doesn't appear to be any obvious pattern to say which authorities have low or high levels of vacancies.

4.5 Local authorities spent 325 million on social work services for children in 2001-02. Around half was spent on staff costs. Almost 40 per cent was spent on residential accommodation for children. Other significant items of spending were fostering and adoption allowances, which accounted for around 50 million.

4.6 Overall spending by local authorities amounted to 300 for each child aged 0-17 in Scotland. This varied from East Renfrewshire, North Lanarkshire and Highland who spent 130 per child, to Glasgow (530) and Dundee (540). There is some link with deprivation in the amount spent: more affluent areas tend to spend less per head on children's social work services. However, a much stronger link is that local authorities with higher levels of children looked after tend to spend more per child.

The following tables are available:

Table 1 - Children looked after: by gender and age group
Table 2 - Children looked after: by current statutory reason for being looked after
Table 3 - Children looked after: by type of accommodation
Table 4 - Children looked after: by ethnic origin
Table 5 - Children looked after: by current disability status
Table 6 - Children ceasing to be looked after: by length of time looked after and age group
Table 7 - Children ceasing to be looked after: by length of time looked after and destination
Table 8 - Children looked after in a planned series of short term placements: by gender and age group
Table 9 - Children looked after: by accommodation type, 1971-2003
Table 10 - Children looked after, children starting and ceasing to be looked after: by local authority area
Table 11 - Children looked after: by local authority area and age group
Table 12 - Children looked after: by local authority area, accommodation type, and characteristics of care away from home
Table 13 - Educational attainment of children looked after: by local authority area
Table 14 - Homes, places and staffing in residential accommodation: by management arrangements and type of centre
Table 15 - Residents at 31 March 2002 by gender, age, and length of stay
Table 16 - Residents in, admissions to and discharges from residential accommodation: by management arrangements and type of centre
Table 17 - Young people in secure accommodation: age, gender, and length of stay
Table 18 - Capacity in and usage of secure accommodation and length of stay: time series
Table 19 - Homes, places and staffing in residential accommodation: by local authority area
Table 20 - Residents in, admissions to and discharges from residential accommodation: by local authority area
Table 21 - Children referred for child protection inquiries: gender and age group
Table 22 - Children who were subject to a case conference: placement of children prior to referral
Table 23 - Children who were subject to a case conference: by child's primary known / suspected abuser
Table 24 - Children registered following a case conference: by category of abuse / risk identified by conference
Table 25 - Children de-registered: by category of abuse/risk identified at conference and length of time on child protection register
Table 26 - Number of children on child protection registers: by gender and age group
Table 27 - Number of children on child protection registers and rate per 1,000 population aged 0-15: by local authority area
Table 28 - Numbers of children referred, subject to a case conference, registered during the year, and on child protection registers: by local authority area
Table 29 - Children's social care staff and vacancies in local authorities: by staff type and mode of employment
Table 30 - Children's social care staff and vacancies in local authorities: by local authority area
Table 31 - Income and expenditure by local authorities on social work services for children: by service provided
Table 32 - Income and expenditure by local authorities on social work services for children: by local authority area

BACKGROUND NOTES - children looked after

1. For historical statistics and background on roles and responsibilities for children looked after, please see the previous publications

Children looked after statistics 2000-01. Published on 21 May 2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00164-00.asp
Children looked after statistics 2001-02. Published on 28 November 2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00199-00.as

2. The information in this News Release was obtained from the statistical return CLAS. The attached link gives details of the statistics collected from each local authority
http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/CLAS%20FORM%202002-2003.xls
http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/2003%20CLAS%20form%20-%20notes%20for%20completion.pdf

BACKGROUND NOTES - residential care

1. For historical statistics and background on roles and responsibilities for children in residential accommodation, please see the previous publications

Covering the year ended 31 March 2000. Published on 27 June 2001 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00091-00.asp
Children in residential accommodation 2000-01. Published on 2 Sept 02 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00191-00.asp
Children in residential accommodation 2001-02. Published on 14 Jan 03 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00216-00.asp

2. The information in this News Release was obtained from the statistical return R1C. The attached link gives details of the statistics collected from each provider of residential accommodation

http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/2003%20r1-c%20front%20page.pdf
http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/RESIDENTIAL%20CARE%20FOR%20CHILDREN%20R1-C%20FORM%202003%20-%20PAGES%2023.xls
http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/RESIDENTIAL%20CARE%20FOR%20CHILDREN%20R1-C%20FORM%202003%20-%20SECTION%206.xls
http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/RESIDENTIAL%20CARE%20FOR%20CHILDREN%20R1-C%20FORM%202003%20-%20SECTION%207.xls

BACKGROUND NOTES - child protection

1. For historical statistics and background on roles and responsibilities for children in residential accommodation, please see the previous publications

Child Protection statistics 1999-00. Published on 23 October 2001 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00114-00.asp
Child Protection statistics 2000-01. Published on 3 September 2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00190-00.asp
Child Protection statistics 2001-02. Published on 5 November 2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00198-00.asp

2. The information in this News Release was obtained from the statistical return CP. The attached link gives details of the statistics collected from each local authority

http://www.swslg.org.uk/returns/CP%20FORM%202003.xls

BACKGROUND NOTES - resources

1. Figures published here on staff employed by local authorities (tables 29 and 30) and on finance (tables 31 and 32) have been published already by the Scottish Executive. The following links give more details

Scottish social work employee statistics 2001 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00197-00.asp
Scottish social work employee statistics 2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00273-00.asp
Scottish Local Government Financial Statistics 2001-2002 http://www.scotland.gov.uk/stats/bulletins/00283-00.asp

BACKGROUND NOTES - general

1. There is now a single point of entry for all regular statistics collected on children in Scotland. Visit the Scottish Children's Statistics Gateway at www.scotland.gov.uk/statistics/children.

2. We welcome feedback on the statistics published and those collected about children in Scotland. If you want to have a say in what we do, please get in touch (telephone 0131 244 3745 or e-mail children.statistics@scotland.gsi.gov.uk).

3. Where providers of data were unable to give full details, data was estimated and then subsequently used in the calculation of Scotland level data.

4.Figures published here may differ slightly from those which will be published by Audit Scotland in 'Performance Indicators 2002-03: Social Work Services: Comparing the performance of Scottish councils'. This is due to the different timescales available for the completion of returns.

5. This is a National Statistics publication. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

6. Public enquiries ( non-media) about the information contained in this News Release should be addressed to Children's Statistics, Scottish Executive Education Department, Area 1-A, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ (telephone 0131 244 3745 or e-mail children.statistics@scotland.gsi.gov.uk).

7. Media enquiries about the information in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Rona Dunbar on 0131 244 2670.