Children Looked After
|The total number of looked after children has fallen for the first time since 2001|
|Continuing increase in proportion looked after in foster care and kinship care|
|Children continue to be looked after for a longer time|
This section presents 2012-13 data on children looked after during the period from 1 August 2012 to 31 July 2013. 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 increased from 2001 to 2012 before decreasing slightly in 2013. The decrease in numbers of looked after children is due to a reduction in numbers of children starting to be looked after. This is not a new trend (numbers starting to be looked after peaked in 2008), but this is the largest year-on-year fall since devolution.
There continue to be more children being looked after away from home in community settings, in particular with foster carers and with friends/relatives. 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.
The total numbers looked after peaked in 2012, with a one per cent decrease from 16,248 in 2012 to 16,041 in 2013. 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 second year running in 2013 there were more children looked after by foster carers/prospective adopters than looked after at home.
Table 1.1: Number of children looked after 2009 to 2013 by type of accommodation(1)
|Type of Accommodation||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013|
|In the community|
|At home with parents||5,924||6,193||5,476||5,153||4,759|
|With Foster Carers provided by LA||3,594||3,651||3,871||3,946||3,906|
|With Foster Carers purchased by LA||905||1,046||1,197||1,333||1,427|
|With prospective adopters||242||299||267||262||244|
|In other community||49||51||49||45||45|
|In local authority home||611||620||615||564||576|
|In voluntary home||138||82||88||90||112|
|In residential school||598||471||460||451||439|
|In secure accommodation||102||82||86||95||65|
|In other residential||113||208||199||219||263|
|Total looked after children||15,287||15,892||16,231||16,248||16,041|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14. 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
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 2013 with and without a current care plan(1)
|Looked after at home||Looked after away from home||Total|
|With a current care plan||4,637||10,992||15,629|
|Without a current care plan||122||290||412|
|With a current care plan||97||97||97|
|Without a current care plan||3||3||3|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14.
Table 1.2 shows that almost all children being looked after at 31 July 2013 had a current care plan. Ninety-seven per cent of the 16,041 children who were being looked after at the end of July 2013 had a current care plan, a slight increase on 2012. There was almost no difference between children looked after at home and away from home - 97 per cent of both groups of children had a current care plan.
Children starting and ceasing to be looked after
Table 1.3: Number of children starting to be looked after 2003, 2008, 2010-2013, by age(1)
|Year Ending 31 March||Year Ending 31 July||Percentage of totals(2)|
(1) Table excludes planned series of short term placements. Figures for 2012-13 are provisional and may be revised. 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.
Full data by gender and age group for 2000-2013 is available in Table 2.1 of the excel version of the publication tables http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Children/PubChildrenSocialWork
(2) Due to rounding, the percentage totals may not equal the sum of their parts.
(3) The 18-21 category in this table may include a small number of looked after young people who were over 21 years.
The reduction in total numbers being looked is reflected by decreases in the numbers of children starting and ceasing being looked after. Table 1.3 shows the number of children who started being looked after between 2005-06 and 2012-13. A child will be counted more than once if they started being looked after more than once during the reporting year. There were 4,470 children who started to be looked after during 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013, a seven per cent decrease from the 2011-12 figure (4,811). The 2013 figure is the lowest since 2005.
Over the last 10 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 2013 this had risen to 39 per cent, although this has changed little since 2012. There is no gender pattern, with equal proportions of boys and girls of each age starting to be looked after in 2013.
Table 1.4 shows the number of children who ceased being looked after between 2006-07 and 2012-13. A child will be counted more than once if they ceased being looked after more than once during the reporting year. There were 4,722 children who ceased being looked after between 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013, a decrease of one per cent from the 2012 figure (4,768) and an overall increase of 32 per cent since 2005, the year in which figures reached a low point of 3,566.
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 48 per cent between 2003 and 2013. The length of time children had been looked after at the point they stopped being looked after remained similar between 2012 and 2013, although the numbers of children looked after for more than three years has increased by 56 per cent since 2006.
Table 1.4: Number of children ceasing to be looked after, by length of time looked after and age, 2003, 2008, 2011-2013(1),(2),(3)
|Under 1||Under 6 weeks||26||46||35||40||39||37||29||27|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||26||33||52||72||64||37||52||44|
|6 months to under 1 year||17||21||29||27||41||24||19||28|
|1-4||Under 6 weeks||86||119||86||76||100||15||8||11|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||56||119||66||85||90||10||9||9|
|6 months to under 1 year||133||119||153||168||164||23||18||17|
|1 year to under 3 years||244||255||442||467||459||43||51||48|
|3 years to under 5 years||54||66||120||116||138||9||13||15|
|5-11||Under 6 weeks||144||141||94||103||107||14||8||8|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||92||96||87||123||101||9||9||7|
|6 months to under 1 year||190||173||192||249||239||19||18||17|
|1 year to under 3 years||385||343||486||489||496||38||36||36|
|3 years to under 5 years||143||206||261||238||267||14||18||20|
|5 years and over||61||102||152||155||156||6||11||11|
|12-15||Under 6 weeks||151||127||73||83||117||14||8||12|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||155||149||104||104||121||14||10||13|
|6 months to under 1 year||217||216||209||193||186||20||19||20|
|1 year to under 3 years||430||337||419||377||335||39||37||35|
|3 years to under 5 years||109||134||110||130||107||10||13||11|
|5 years and over||40||79||86||121||86||4||12||9|
|16+||Under 6 weeks||33||27||11||7||9||3||1||1|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||92||107||39||23||31||7||2||2|
|6 months to under 1 year||175||274||134||137||139||14||10||11|
|1 year to under 3 years||613||656||533||517||465||48||38||36|
|3 years to under 5 years||198||247||257||270||260||16||20||20|
|5 years and over||163||233||381||398||405||13||29||31|
|Total||Under 6 weeks||440||460||299||309||372||11||6||8|
|6 weeks to under 6 months||421||504||348||407||407||10||9||9|
|6 months to under 1 year||732||803||717||774||769||18||16||16|
|1 year to under 3 years||1,672||1,591||1,880||1,850||1,755||41||39||37|
|3 years to under 5 years||504||653||748||754||772||12||16||16|
|5 years and over||264||414||619||674||647||7||14||14|
(1) Excludes children who are on a planned series of short term placements. Figures for 2012-13 are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14. If a child ceases to be looked after more than once during the year they will be counted more than once.
(2) Some totals do not exactly equal the sum of their component parts due to the effects of rounding.
(3) Falkirk did not provide information on length of time looked after for children ceasing to be looked after in 2007-08. 88 children ceasing to be looked after in this local authority for 2007-08 are included in the totals only.
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 within three months of the young person becoming compulsorily supported. 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 2012-13. 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: Percentage of children ceasing to be looked after, by destination, 2007-2013(1),(2)
|Percentage of children ceasing to be looked after in year ending|
|31 March||31 July|
|Destination after leaving care||2007||2008||2009||2010||2011||2012||2013|
|Home with (biological) parents||52.0||51.8||63.7||62.0||60.0||68.2||67.5|
|Former foster carers||0.4||1.0||1.6||1.9||1.2||1.3||1.3|
|Supported accommodation/own tenancy||5.0||6.2||5.1||5.7||6.2||5.5||5.7|
(1) Table excludes planned series of short term placements. 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) Figures for 2012-13 are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14.
Prior to 2008, table includes some estimates and some "not known"s where local authorities were not able to provide information.
(3) "Other" includes residential care, homeless, in custody and other destination.
There are a number of types of destinations that children can be allocated to on leaving care. The majority of children (67.5 per cent in 2012-13) go to live with their biological parents and a further 13.7 per cent went to live with friends or relatives. A striking trend is the increase in the proportion of children being adopted - this proportion has almost doubled to 6.3 per cent since 2007, although from a small base.
Three quarters (75 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 2012 to 31 July 2013 had a pathway plan. This is a two percentage point increase from 2011-12. 75 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, 68 per cent had a pathway plan and 69 per cent a pathway coordinator, compared with 81 and 80 per cent of those whose final placement type was 'away from home'.
Table 1.6: Pathway plans and nominated pathway co-ordinators of young people who ceased to be looked after during 2012-13(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||391||572||963|
|Without a pathway plan||184||132||316|
|With a nominated pathway co-ordinator||396||562||958|
|Without a nominated pathway co-ordinator||179||142||321|
|With a pathway plan||68||81||75|
|Without a pathway plan||32||19||25|
|With a nominated pathway co-ordinator||69||80||75|
|Without a nominated pathway co-ordinator||31||20||25|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14. 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).
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 1.7 shows the number of young people eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2013 by age and their economic activity. 'Economic activity' refers to whether a young person was in education, employment or training.
There were 3,886 young people reported to be eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2013, of whom 69 per cent were receiving aftercare, an increase from 66 per cent in 2012. 43 per cent of those receiving aftercare and who had a known economic activity were in education, training or employment. This is a one percentage point increase on 2012.
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 58 per cent. The age groups least likely to be in education, training or employment was 19 to 21 year-olds at 38 per cent.
Table 1.7: Young people eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2013, by age and economic activity(1)(2)
|% of young people|
|Age||Total||eligible for aftercare||receiving aftercare with known economic activity|
|Economic activity on 31 July 2013||15-16||17||18||19-21(3)|
|In education, training or employment|
|In higher education||16||25||35||59||135||3||6|
|In education other than HE||60||66||75||111||312||8||13|
|In training or employment||54||106||145||254||559||14||24|
|Not in education, training or employment|
|- due to short term illness||*||*||5||8||16||0||1|
|- due to long term illness or disability||*||*||20||56||84||2||4|
|- due to looking after family||0||13||27||59||99||3||4|
|- due to other circumstances||92||221||266||555||1,134||29||48|
|Not receiving aftercare||131||292||411||366||1,200||31|
|Percentage in employment, education or training|
|As percentage of all young people eligible for aftercare ("Total")||32||25||23||27||26|
|As percentage of young people receiving aftercare with known economic activity ("Total" excluding "Not Known" and "Not receiving aftercare)||58||45||45||38||43|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14.
(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.
Table 1.8: All children with a current planned series of short term placements at 31 July 2013 by type of placement(1)(2)
|Type of placement||Number of children||Percentage(3)|
(1) Figures are provisional and may be revised in 2013-14.
(2) Due to rounding, the totals for percentages may not equal the sum of their parts.
(3) Figures include any child aged under 21 with a current plan, (even if they were not accommodated) but no open LAC episode on 31 July, or are reported as eligible for aftercare.
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 1.8 shows the number of children with a current planned series of short-term placements at 31 July 2013, by type of placement.
At 31 July 2013 there were 1,914 children being looked after on a current planned series of short-term placements. 61 per cent of these children were looked after in residential establishments, whilst 25 per cent of these children were looked after in foster placements, compared to 11 per cent in 2012. This contrasts with a fall of children in other placements from 28 per cent in 2012 to 13 per cent this year.
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 4 gives Scottish figures including and excluding children looked after at home. The published Scottish figure is at 31 July 2013 where other UK nations are at 31 March. To improve comparability, the Scotland figure at 31 March has been used in the comparison chart below.
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. Looked after children tend to be younger in Scotland than the rest of the UK - 11 per cent of looked after children Scotland are aged 16 or over, compared to 20 per cent in England (18 per cent in Northern Ireland and 16 per cent in Wales). Given this, the sharper increase in numbers in Scotland over the past 10 years, which coincided with a focus on intervening earlier in the lives of vulnerable children, may partly reflect different approaches across the UK.
Links to the cross-UK data underlying Chart 3 can be found in Background Note 1.7. There is more information on the comparability of looked after children data across the UK: 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: Carrie Graham