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Latest statistics about children and young people in and leaving care

On 26 March 2019, the Scottish Government published official statistics about children and young people who are looked after by (or in receipt of aftercare services from) Scottish local authorities. These latest statistics covers the year 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018.

These figures confirmed some interesting trends, and pose a variety of interesting questions about how children's social work practice is changing in Scotland.

Here we present some headline figures for looked after children and care leavers.

Looked after children and young people

  • an estimated 14,738 children were looked after in 2018, a decrease of one per cent from 2017, and the sixth consecutive year of decline
  • foster care remains the most common accommodation for looked after children, accounting for over a third of looked after children (34%), whereas residential care accounts for 10% of looked after children
  • the number of children starting to become looked after decreased in 2017-18, while the number ceasing to be looked after increased compared with 2016-17.

Number of looked after children by where they live 

Line graph showing downward trend of children looked after at home

Care leavers

  •  in the first collection of Continuing Care information, there were a total of 208 young people recorded as being in Continuing Care in 2017-18
  • of the estimated 6,109 care leavers eligible for aftercare services on 31 July 2018, 62% were known to be receiving aftercare.

Child protection

  • the number of children on the child protection register increased slightly in 2018 to an estimated 2,668, but remains lower than the recent peak recorded in 2014
    around half of children registered were on the child protection register for less than six months, while 16% were registered for a year or more.

Number of children on the child protection register by age

Chart 3 edited .png

Secure care

  • 85 young people were in secure care accommodation at the end of July 2018. The average number of young people placed in secure care accommodation during 2017-18 was 81, up from 76 during the previous year. If placements from the rest of the UK are excluded, the average number of young people placed in secure care from Scotland fell by 18% compared to last year.
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