Children Looked After
This section presents 2011-12 data on children looked after during the period from 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012. At the time of last year's 2010-11 publication Glasgow City Council was able provide individual-level data for children receiving aftercare and children on short term placements, but not for the main looked after children collection. This section also presents updated 2010-11 data which includes Glasgow's individual-level data plus updated data from other local authorities. Please see background note 4.4. for more information on this.
Local authorities have a responsibility to provide support to certain vulnerable young people, known as 'looked after children'. A young person may become looked after for a number of reasons, including neglect, abuse, complex disabilities which require specialist care, or involvement in the youth justice system.
There are several types of placements that looked after children or young people could be placed in, including at home (where a child is subject to a Supervision Requirement and continues to live in their normal place of residence), foster care, residential unit or school, a secure unit or a kinship placement (where they are placed with friends or relatives).
The number of looked after children has been increasing since 2001. The continuous increase in numbers of looked after children is due to more children being looked after away from home in community settings, in particular with foster carers/prospective adopters, with friends and relatives and other community settings. After previously increasing from 2001 to 2008, over the past five years there has been an overall decrease in the numbers of children looked after at home. Numbers of children looked after in residential care settings have been fairly static over recent years, but have seen a slight downward trend since 2007.
Between 2011 and 2012 the increase in total numbers looked after has slowed, with less than a one per cent increase from 16,231 in 2011 to 16,248 in 2012. The number of children being looked after by foster carers/prospective adopters or in other community placements remains at the highest level on record and, for the first time in 2012 there were more children looked after by foster carers/prospective adopters than looked after at home.
Chart 2: Children looked after per 1,000 children under 18 by type of accommodation, 1987-2012
Table 1.1: Number of children looked after at 31 July 2011 and 2012 by type of accommodation(1)
|Type of Accommodation||2011(2)||2012|
|In the community:-|
|At home with parents||5,476||5,153|
|With Foster Carers provided by LA||3871||3,946|
|With Foster Carers purchased by LA||1197||1,333|
|With prospective adopters||267||262|
|In other community||49||45|
|In local authority home||615||564|
|In voluntary home||88||90|
|In residential school||460||451|
|In secure accommodation||86||95|
|In other residential||199||219|
|Total looked after children||16,231||16,248|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13. Information on the number of children looked after by accommodation type is available back to 1971 in Table 1.1a of the excel version of the publication tables: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
(2) 2011 figures are revised from original publication and overall number of looked after children has increased by 0.4%.
When children become looked after, a care plan should be produced. The care plan should include detailed information about the child's care, education and health needs, as well as the responsibilities of the local authority, the parents and the child. A care plan is considered 'current' if it has been produced or reviewed in the past 12 months.
Table 1.2: Children looked after at 31 July 2012 with and without a current care plan(1)
|Looked after at home||Looked after away from home||Total|
|With a current care plan||5,066||10,725||15,791|
|Without a current care plan||87||370||457|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13
Table 1.2 shows that a large majority of the children being looked after at 31 July 2012 had a current care plan. Ninety-seven per cent of the 16,248 children who were being looked after at the end of July 2012 had a current care plan, an increase of 4 percentage points compared with 15,030 in 2011. There was little difference between children looked after at home and away from home - 98 per cent of children being looked after at home had a current care plan, compared with 97 per cent of those being looked after away from home.
Children starting and ceasing to be looked after
The levelling off of numbers being looked after is reflected in the narrowing of the difference between numbers starting and ceasing to be looked after. Table 1.3 shows the number of children who started being looked after between 2001-02 and 2011-12. A child will be counted more than once if they started being looked after more than once during the reporting year. There were 4,811 children who started to be looked after during 1 August 2011 and 31 July 2012 a one per cent increase from the revised 2010-11 figure (4,746). The figures seen in 2010-2012 are similar after a decrease from higher levels (of around 5,200) seen in 2007-2009.
Over the last 9 years children have started to be looked after at younger ages. In 2003, twenty-five per cent of children starting to be looked after were aged under five, by 2012 this had risen to 38 per cent.
Table 1.3: Number of children starting to be looked after 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010-2012, by age and gender(1)
|Year ended 31st March||Year ended 31 July||Percentage of 2012 total(3)|
|All people||Under 1||268||400||412||641||650||701||753||16|
(1) Table excludes planned series of short term placements. Figures for 2011-12 are provisional and may be revised Falkirk did not provide information on children starting to be looked after in 2007-08. Prior to 2008, table includes rounded estimates wherever local authorities were not able to provide information. Prior to 2005 'unknowns' were allocated to a category rather than being reported as unknown. The number of looked after children aged 18+ was not asked for prior to 2006. A child may start to be looked after more than once in a year and so may be counted more than once. Changes between 2003-04 and 2004-05 are partly due to improved recording.
(2) Previously published figures for 2011 have been revised. Please see background note 4.4. for more information.
(3) Due to rounding, the percentage totals may not equal the sum of their parts
(4) The 18-21 category in this table may include a small number of looked after young people who were over 21yrs
Table 1.4 shows the number of children who ceased being looked after between 2002-03 and 2011-12. A child will be counted more than once if they ceased being looked after more than once during the reporting year. There were 4,768 children who ceased being looked after between 1 August 2011 and 31 July 2012, an increase of three per cent from the revised 2011 figure (4,611) and an overall increase of 34 per cent since 2005.
Table 1.4: Number of children ceasing to be looked after, by length of time looked after and age, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011-2012(1)
|Year ending||Percentage of 2012 totals|
|31 March||31 July|
|Under 6 weeks||26||56||55||63||35||40||29|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||26||28||29||42||52||72||52|
|6 months to under 1 year||17||9||13||30||29||27||19|
|Under 6 weeks||86||126||87||102||86||76||8|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||56||56||80||70||66||85||9|
|6 months to under 1 year||133||93||136||115||153||168||18|
|1 year to under 3 years||244||195||254||395||442||467||51|
|3 years to under 5 years||54||26||54||82||120||116||13|
|Under 6 weeks||144||145||105||132||94||103||8|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||92||80||112||68||87||123||9|
|6 months to under 1 year||190||161||185||182||192||249||18|
|1 year to under 3 years||385||317||351||382||486||489||36|
|3 years to under 5 years||143||114||190||212||261||238||18|
|5 years and over||61||71||86||103||152||155||11|
|Under 6 weeks||151||182||130||103||73||83||8|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||155||143||146||98||104||104||10|
|6 months to under 1 year||217||170||204||244||209||193||19|
|1 year to under 3 years||430||285||304||379||419||377||37|
|3 years to under 5 years||109||86||82||108||110||130||13|
|5 years and over||40||41||58||84||86||121||12|
|Under 6 weeks||33||68||21||9||11||7||1|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||92||83||104||55||39||23||2|
|6 months to under 1 year||175||184||267||196||134||137||10|
|1 year to under 3 years||613||510||606||562||533||517||38|
|3 years to under 5 years||198||169||243||250||257||270||20|
|5 years and over||163||166||242||328||381||398||29|
|Under 6 weeks||440||578||398||409||299||309||6|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||421||390||471||333||348||407||9|
|6 months to under 1 year||732||617||805||767||717||774||16|
|1 year to under 3 years||1,672||1,308||1,515||1,718||1,880||1,850||39|
|3 years to under 5 years||504||395||569||652||748||754||16|
|5 years and over||264||278||386||515||619||674||14|
(1) Table excludes children who are on a planned series of short term placements. Figures for 2011-12 are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13. Prior to 2008, table includes estimates wherever local authorities were not able to provide data. A child may cease to be looked after more than once during the year and will be counted once for each episode of care ending. Some totals do not exactly equal the sum of their component parts due to the effects of rounding.
(2) Previously published figures for 2011 have been revised, but the revised figures are known to overcount and should be treated as an estimate. Please see background note 4.4. for more information
Just as children are starting to be looked after at a younger age, children are also ceasing to be looked after at younger ages. The number of children ceasing to be looked after who were under the age of 12 increased by 45 per cent in 2011-12 compared with 2002-03.
Local authorities are required to carry out a pathway assessment for aftercare services on young people who are over school leaving age but are still looked after. These young people should be provided with a pathway co-ordinator who assesses their needs and a pathway plan which outlines how the local authority plans to meet the needs of the young person. Table 1.5 shows the number of children who were beyond their minimum school leaving age on the date they ceased to be looked after during 2011-12. A child will be counted more than once if they ceased to be looked after more than once during the reporting year.
Table 1.5: Pathway plans and nominated pathway co-ordinators of young people who ceased to be looked after during 2011-12(1) who were beyond minimum school-leaving age on the date they ceased to be looked after
|Looked after at home||Looked after away from home||Total|
|With a pathway plan||402||572||974|
|Without a pathway plan||200||162||362|
|With a nominated pathway co-ordinator||405||569||974|
|Without a nominated pathway co-ordinator||197||165||362|
|With a pathway plan||67||78||73|
|Without a pathway plan||33||22||27|
|With a nominated pathway co-ordinator||67||78||73|
|Without a nominated pathway co-ordinator||33||22||27|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13. Figures include all episodes of ceasing to be looked after beyond minimum school leaving age (i.e. a child may be counted more than once).
Seventy three per cent of young people who had reached their minimum school leaving age at the time they ceased to be looked after during 1 August 2011 to 31 July 2012 had a pathway plan. This is a 16 percentage point increase from 2010-11. Seventy three per cent had a pathway co‑ordinator, an increase of two percentage points from the previous year.
Where a young person's final placement type was 'at home' they were less likely to have a pathway plan or a pathway co-ordinator than if the final placement type was 'away from home'. Of children whose last placement was at home, 67 per cent had a pathway plan or a pathway coordinator, compared with 78 per cent of those whose final placement type was 'away from home'.
Local Authorities have duty to provide advice, guidance and assistance for young people who - at the point they leave care - have reached minimum school leaving age, referred to as 'aftercare services'. Table 1.6 shows the number of young people eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2012 by age and their economic activity. 'Economic activity' refers to whether a young person was in education, employment or training.
Table 1.6: Young people eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2012, by age and economic activity(1),(2)
|Economic activity on 31 July 2012||Age on 31 July 2012||Total||Percentage of all young people eligible for aftercare||Percentage of young people receiving aftercare with known economic activity|
|In education, training or employment|
|In higher education||15||24||20||52||111||3||5|
|In education other than HE||42||44||83||118||287||7||13|
|In training or employment||73||107||148||207||535||14||24|
|Not in education, training or employment|
|- due to short term illness||*||*||*||6||13||0||1|
|- due to long term illness or disability||*||*||16||43||63||2||3|
|- due to looking after family||*||19||*||77||134||3||6|
|- due to other circumstances||92||247||334||430||1,103||29||49|
|Not receiving aftercare||191||332||513||292||1,328||34|
|Percentage in employment, education or training|
|As percentage of all young people eligible for aftercare||28||21||20||29||24|
|As percentage of young people receiving aftercare with known economic activity||57||39||39||40||42|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13 (2) Cells containing * represent numbers that are suppressed to maintain confidentiality. Due to rounding, the totals for percentages may not equal the sum of their parts (3) The 19-21 category in this table includes a small number of young people over the age of 21 who were receiving aftercare.
There were 3,870 young people reported to be eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2012, of whom 66 per cent were receiving aftercare. Forty two per cent of those receiving aftercare and who had a known economic activity were in education, training or employment. This is a 6 percentage point increase on 2011.
For the young people receiving aftercare where their education/employment status was known, 15-16 year olds were most likely to be in education, training or employment, at 57 per cent. The age groups least likely to be in education, training or employment was 17 and 18 year olds at 39 per cent.
If a child is subject to a planned series of short-term placements where, for the purposes of respite, they stay away from home for more than 24 hours continuously, they are categorised as being looked after by the local authority for that period. The statistics for these young people are not included in the main looked after children statistics. Table 1.7 shows the number of children with a current planned series of short-term placements at 31 July 2012, by type of placement.
At 31 July 2012 there were 2,029 children being looked after on a current planned series of short-term placements. The number of children under 18 years was 1,819, an increase of 12 per cent from 2011. Sixty per cent of these children were looked after in residential establishments, whilst 11 per cent of these children were looked after in foster placements.
Table 1.7: All children with a current planned series of short-term placements at 31 July 2012(1), by type of placement(2)
|Type of placement||Number of children||Percentage(3)|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2012-13.
(2) Due to rounding, the totals for percentages may not equal the sum of their parts
(3)Figures include any child who was aged under 21 years on 31 July and who has a current plan, even if they were not actually accommodated on 31 July, and who have not got an open LAC episode on 31 July, or are reported as being eligible for aftercare
Cross-UK looked after comparisons
The definition of "looked after children" varies across the countries within the UK. In Scotland children looked after at home are included in the definition and in the statistics. In the England and Wales statistics children looked after at home are usually excluded. As a result, simply comparing the rate of children looked after gives figures for Scotland which are much higher than the rest of the UK.
Chart 3 gives the Scottish figure both including and excluding children looked after at home. When children looked after at home are excluded from the Scottish figures the rate is still higher and increasing more steeply than any of the other UK countries. There has been a similar, but less steep, increase in the rate of looked after children in Wales since 2006. Although England and Northern Ireland have seen small increases in the rates in recent years, the rate per 10,000 under 18 years population has remained more static.
Chart 3: Cross-UK comparison of rate of looked after children per 10,000 children, 2004-2012
There is more information on the differences between the collection of looked after children data in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and how this affects the comparability here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/socialservicestats
There are additional tables on looked after children available at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
Email: Denise Macleod