National Care Service evidence paper: children's social services - easy read

This easy read summary provides an overview of social services provided to children and families in Scotland. It forms one of a collection of contextual papers about social care and related areas in Scotland.

National Care Service Evidence paper: Children's social services: Easy Read

Children and Families

Children can get social services before they are born and up to the age of 18.

For some young people who have been supported by social services, a social worker or social worker-led service can keep working with them until they are 26.

There are many reasons why social work involvement may be needed.

Usually the parents, children or whole family will be having difficulties in things like:

  • home life
  • how they are feeling
  • relationships
  • addictions
  • controlling anger
  • support with disabilities

Children and parents with all kinds of incomes can be assessed for social work services.

Families from areas with more poverty are more likely to receive social work services.

Child Protection

A case conference is a meeting about children who have been harmed or who are at risk of harm.

Everyone at the meeting will talk about how to stop the harm and keep the child safe.

In 2021 there were more than 4 thousand case conferences for children who were not already on the child protection register.

Most of these ended with a child being put on the child protection register - information held by social work services so they know which children are at risk.

In 2021 there were more than 2 thousand children on the Child Protection Register - the lowest number since 2002.

Looked after children

Looked after children are children or young people who are being supported by their local council.

They might be living:

  • at home with parents
  • in a children's home
  • with foster parents
  • with other members of their family

In 2021 there were more than 13 thousand looked after children.

This is the lowest this figure has been since 2006.


In 2020 there were more than 15 thousand people working in children's social services.

This is a bit more than in 2015.

More than half of the people working in children's social services are working in residential child care like a children's home.

More than 1 in 3 people working in children's social services are working in fieldwork services.

Fieldwork services are services that support children and parents:

  • in and around the family home
  • in schools
  • in care homes for children and young people

They include services like:

  • making sure children and young people are comfortable, healthy and happy
  • counselling
  • sports and active services



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