This paper provides an overview of social services provided to children and families in Scotland.  It forms one of an initial collection of contextual papers, setting out key sources of information about social care and related areas in Scotland, linking to the National Care Service Consultation proposals published in August 2021. Information on key national trends in those services is also provided. This includes provision trends, population profiles of children to whom these services are provided, and the workforce.
Official and National statistics are available for:
- Child Protection
- Children's Hearings Duties (including the Principal Reporter)
- Looked after children
- Secure Care Accommodation
This is one of a collection of papers produced to inform draft legislation for the NCS. The collection consists of the following 6 papers on adult social care:
- Scotland's Health and Demographic Profile
- People who Access Social Care and Unpaid Carers in Scotland
- Social Care Support and Service Provision in Scotland
- Experiences of Social Care and Caring in Scotland
- The Adult Social Care Workforce in Scotland
- Adult Social Care in Scotland - Equality Evidence Overview
And papers on:
- Children's Social Services
- Justice Social Work in Scotland
- Learning and evidence from national social care systems in Nordic and Scandinavian countries
- Integrated Care Studies: The SCFNuka (Alaska) and Canterbury (New Zealand) Models
The data sources and reporting periods for this paper are summarised below. For consistency and ease of reporting, these will be referred to as whole years (e.g., 2021).
Body: Scottish Government
Data source: Children's Social Work Statistics
Reporting period: 01 August 2020 to 31 July 2021
Body: Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SRCA)
Data source: SCRA Official Statistics
Reporting period: 01 April 2020 to 31 March 2021
Body: Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)
Reporting period: as at 31 December 2019, as at first Monday in December 2020, as at 31 December 2020
Body: Care Inspectorate
Data Source: Fostering and adoption statistical bulletin
Reporting period: 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020
Social services are provided to children and their families when additional support is needed or when children are at risk.
Section 22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 places a duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are in need and, where consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of children within their families. Every local authority in Scotland provides social services to fulfil these statutory duties.
Social work services may become involved with a family through different routes. A family member may request a social work service. It is more common that they will be referred by someone they know, usually a professional such as a health visitor, doctor, teacher, youth worker, or community police officer. This will usually be done with the person's permission. Anyone who considers that a child is being harmed or is at risk of suffering harm (usually a professional such as those above) may refer the child for assessment of whether a formal child protection service is necessary. Exceptionally, this can be done without seeking the parents' or an older child's agreement, though professionals will usually try to explain why they consider that this is necessary and the steps a social worker might take.
Children and young people receiving social work services can be aged from 0 (or even pre-birth) to 18 years. If a young person has been looked after by the local authority, a social work or social worker-led service may continue up to the age of 26.
The reasons why social work involvement may be necessary are very varied but usually the parents and/or children, or the whole family, may be experiencing a combination of practical, emotional and relationship difficulties. Children and parents in all income groups and with a wide range of disabilities, emotional and relationship difficulties may be assessed as in need of a social work service. However, families from areas of higher deprivation are more likely to receive statutory social work services and poverty has a pervasive impact on families.
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