CHILDREN LOOKED AFTER IN THE YEAR TO 31 MARCH 2001
21 May 2002
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A Scottish Executive National Statistics Publication
Local authorities have a responsibility to provide support to certain vulnerable young people, these young people are known as 'looked after children'.
Statistics on children looked after by local authorities covering the year ended 31 March 2001 have been published today by the Scottish Executive.
The main points are:
- Just under 10,900 children were looked after by local authorities at 31 March 2001. This compares to 11,300 children as at 31 March 2000, a decrease of 4 per cent.
- In each year since 1997 just under 1 per cent of all children aged 0-17 have been looked after. This remained largely unchanged at 31 March 2001 with 0.97 per cent of children (or nearly 10 per thousand) looked after.
- The proportion of children looked after in the population varied considerably between local authority areas, with East Renfrewshire having the fewest and Glasgow City the most, at 3.1 and 18.5 per 1,000 population aged 0-17, respectively.
- 58 per cent of all children looked after at 31 March 2001 were boys. 39 per cent of looked after children were aged between 12 and 15, and 32 per cent were aged between 5 and 11.
- 85 per cent of all children looked after were accommodated in the community with 44 per cent living at home with their parents and 28 per cent living with foster carers. 15 per cent of looked after children lived in residential accommodation.
- There were almost 4,700 instances of children starting to be looked after and just over 4,700 instances of children ceasing to be looked after in the year to 31 March 2001.
- 43 per cent of episodes of children starting to be looked after involved children aged between 12 and 15. Of cases of children ceasing to be looked after 30 per cent involved children aged 16 or 17, 29 per cent involved children aged 12 to 15 and a further 24 per cent involved children aged 5 to 11.
- A total of over 2,400 children were looked after in a planned series of short term placements as at 31 March 2001. (These children are additional to the figures quoted above.) Of children on short term placements, 60 per cent were boys and 45 per cent were aged 5 to 11.
The following tables are available:
Table 1 - Number of Children Looked After as at 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Gender and Age Group.
Table 2 - Number of Children Looked After as at 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Local Authority Area and Age Group.
Table 3 - Number of Children Looked After as at 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Current Statutory Reason for Being Looked After.
Table 4 - Number of Children Looked After as at 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Type of Accommodation.
Table 5 - Number of Children Starting to be Looked After in the Year to 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Gender and Age Group.
Table 6 - Number of Children Starting to be Looked After in the Year to 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Latest Statutory Reason for Being Looked After.
Table 7 - Number of Children Ceasing to be Looked After in the Year to 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Gender and Age Group.
Table 8 - Number of Children Ceasing to be Looked After in the Year to 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Last Statutory Reason for Being Looked After.
Table 9 - Number of Children Looked After in a Planned Series of Short Term Placements as at 31 March 2001 : Breakdown by Gender and Age Group.
NOTES TO NEWS EDITORS
1. Local authorities have responsibilities under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 to provide support to vulnerable young people. These young people are known as 'looked after children'. Some children will be looked after for only a short period of time, whereas others may be looked after for several short periods of time, and some for substantial periods of time. Local authorities regularly review the range of provision of services made to each child, and these vary considerably from one child to another.
2. Section 25 of the 1995 Act relates to the provision of accommodation for children looked after, which generally includes placing them with another family or in a specialist residential establishment. Local authorities have a duty to provide accommodation in certain circumstances, for example, if nobody has parental responsibility for a child, if a child is lost or abandoned or if the person who has been caring for a child becomes unable to provide suitable accommodation or care. In addition, local authorities have a discretionary power to provide accommodation if it would safeguard or promote the child's welfare.
3. The relevant provisions of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 came into operation on 1 April 1997. Previously, local authorities had similar responsibilities under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, under which children were referred to as 'children in care or under supervision'. However, under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the terminology now refers to 'children looked after'.
4. The information in this News Release was obtained from the statistical return CLAS. The year to 31 March 2001 is the second year for which local authorities were asked to complete this form - which replaced a shorter interim return on children looked after. The CLAS form asks for detailed information on the number of children looked after at 31 March and also the numbers starting and ceasing to be looked after in the year to 31 March.
5. All 32 local authorities were able to provide the Scottish Executive with data on children looked after. However, some were unable to supply all of the data requested. Where this was the case, the remaining data was estimated for these authorities and then subsequently used in the calculation of Scotland level data.
6. Figures published here differ slightly from those published in January 2002 by Audit Scotland in 'Performance Indicators 2000/2001: Social Work Services: Comparing the performance of Scottish councils'. This is due to the different timescales available for the completion of returns. The figures published here are more up to date than those published by Audit Scotland and take account of late adjustments to figures.
7. In addition to general figures on children looked after, the CLAS return also asked local authorities to separately provide information on the numbers of children looked after at 31 March on a planned series of short term placements. Short term placements are used by local authorities to provide respite to children and families where this can help to avoid the need for a child to become looked after full time. The use of short term placements is not restricted to disability respite. Figures quoted in this News Release (with the exception of the final bullet point) and in the supporting Tables 1-8 exclude children on a planned series of short-term placements.
8. A large number of local authorities have reported that their data collection and recording systems have been improved considerably since completion of the first CLAS return. This means that figures for the year to 31 March 2001 are considered to be more accurate than those supplied for the year to 31 March 2000. Authorities have confirmed that they are still working on improvements to their data systems and that improvements in accuracy can therefore be expected for some time to come. While improvements continue to be made the figures published here (and those published for the year to 31 March 2000) provide the most accurate picture available.
9. There is no bulletin publication for these figures. Supporting tables are, however, available on request. This News Release and the supporting tables are available on the Scottish Executive web site (www.scotland.gov.uk). Media can obtain faxed copies of the tables by contacting Murray Meikle on 0131-244-2972.
10. 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.
11. Public enquiries (non-media) about the information contained in this News Release should be addressed to Angus MacDonald, Scottish Executive Education Department, Area 1-A, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ (telephone 0131 244 3551 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Murray Meikle 0131-244-2972
21 May 2002