Statistics Publication Notice: Health and Care Series: Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10

Contains information on the numbers of looked after children, eligible for aftercare services and on a planned series of short-term placements.


1 A child becomes looked after by a local authority as a result of either being provided with accommodation by a local authority under section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (where either no one has parental responsibility for them, they are lost or abandoned, or the person who has been caring for them is prevented from providing suitable care), through a children's hearing leading to a supervision requirement, or where the child is subject to an order, authorisation or warrant. (Children who are subject to respite care are not included in the looked after section of these statistics). Children who are looked after will either be looked after at home (where the child or young person continues to live in their normal place of residence), or looked after away from home (away from their normal place of residence).

2 All children and young people who are looked after at home will have appeared at a children's hearing which has resulted in the child or young person becoming looked after, with the aim of promoting beneficial changes to the child or young person's life whilst they remain at home. For children and young people who are looked after away from home, it has been decided that it is not appropriate for them to remain at home and either the local authority, children's hearing or sometimes the court will consider alternative placements. These alternative placements can include foster care or residential care.

3 Most children and young people become looked after for care and protection reasons. These can include (although this list is not exhaustive) neglect, mental, physical or emotional abuse, parental substance misuse or poor parenting skills, or a child or young person may have become involved in the youth justice system. The length of time a child or young person is looked after for can vary. Some return home, some become adopted, and some children and young people remain looked after until they reach adulthood.

4 The data used for Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10 were collected at an individual child level from all 32 local authorities for the second time. Statistics published in years prior to 2008-09 used data supplied by local authorities aggregated at a local authority level. Since 2008-09, local authorities are reporting significant improvements in the quality of their data reporting as a result of the new individualised collection methodology. This should be bourne in mind when performing cross-year comparisons.

5 The individualised looked after children data collected information on the characteristics of each child or young person that was looked after at any time during the reporting period. Statistics were collected on all children/ young people who had an open looked after episode within the reporting period, every episode which was open at some point in the reporting period, every placement that took place during these entire episodes and every (main) legal reason for which a child was being looked after. The survey forms, data specification and guidance notes for data presented in this publication, and previous years' publications, can be seen at

6 The new individualised collection methodology provides a much richer source of information on children looked after statistics. In particular, the individual level data allows analysis to be performed at any period in time, unlike previous years datasets which were snapshots of local authority level aggregate totals. If you would like to find out more about the new collection methodology, please contact Gary Sutton (see background note 16 below for contact details).

7 Although all local authorities supplied data, some were unable to provide information for every table. The larger omissions are listed below:

  • Glasgow were unable to provide any information on legal reasons relating to children looked after during the 2009-10 reporting period.
  • Also, in 2008-09, local authorities were to supply the primary legal reason. However, in 2009-10, some local authorities provided information on the all legal reasons ( i.e. a child may have more than one legal reason at any given time). The intention is that from the 2011-12 reporting period, all legal reasons will be provided by all local authorities. However, during this transitional period, information on legal reasons is not contained in this publication (due to the inconsistency in reporting) but is available on request.

8 Figures previously published for 2008-09 have been revised to include amendments that a few local authorities provided after the 2008-09 publication.

9 Table 1.6 show young people eligible for aftercare services. Local authorities have a duty to provide advice, guidance and assistance for young people who have ceased to be looked after over minimum school leaving age. A young person is eligible to aftercare services if they are being compulsorily supported (over minimum school leaving age but under 19 years of age) or discretionarily supported (where a young person is aged 19 and 20 years of age and the local authority has agreed to support them until their 21 st birthday). For full details of young people's eligibility for aftercare, see regulations and guidance at:

10 Table 1.7 show children and young people looked after in a planned series of short term placements. Where, for the purposes of respite, a child stays away from home for a continuous period of more than 24hrs, he or she is being provided with accommodation and the local authority has additional duties towards him or her as a child who is looked after by them. In order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children while they are placed for respite away from their own homes, a series of short planned placements which include overnight stays may be treated as a single placement for the purposed of the Arrangements to Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 1996. This includes any children who were aged under 18 year on 31 July 2010 who had a current plan, even if they were not actually accommodated on 31 July 2010.

11 A list of the placement categories and classifications is shown in Annex A.

12 In September 2009 the New Reporting Framework for the Educational Outcomes of Scotland's Looked After Children and Young People was published. A copy can be found by following this link: This new framework will report on the educational attainment of looked after children and will contain information on attendance, exclusions, qualifications and school leaver destinations. The first report containing this information is planned to be published in June 2011, and will contain statistics on the educational outcomes of looked after children relating to the 2009-10 academic year.

13 Work has been undertaken between the Scottish Government and administrations from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to document clearly the differences between each administration's Looked After Children Statistics and to scope out the feasibility and need for a comparable dataset. Further developments from this work have been published on the Scottish Government Children's Statistics web site at:

14 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. For more information on National Statistics and the National Statistics Code of Practice please visit:

15 Children Looked After Statistics was confirmed by the UK Statistics Authority as National Statistics following assessment in 2009, subject to the requirements set out in the assessment report. The report (Assessment Report 14) can be found at:

16 Public enquiries ( non-media) about the information contained in this Publication Notice should be addressed to Gary Sutton at:

The Scottish Government,
Children and Families Analysis
Mail Point 8, 2-B (Bridge),
Victoria Quay,
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Telephone: 0131 244 1690

17 Media enquiries about the information in this Statistics Publication Notice should be addressed to Ashley Duff on 0131 244 3070.

18 If you would like to be consulted about new or existing statistical collections or receive notification of forthcoming statistical publications, please register your interest on the Scottish Government ScotStat website at

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