and Young People’s Plans must set out the overarching vision and strategic direction of the Children and Young People’s Partnership, its aspirations and priorities. The most recent plans, for 2011-2014 have a range of formats with some being incorporated with other strategic plans. There is also considerable variation in the content of the plans. Three of the 22 Plans give detailed information about their targets for lookedafterchildren and the dedicated resources that are available to achieve them. By contrast, two of the Plans do not refer to lookedafterchildren at all. Only five Plans refer to corporate parenting. Only six Plans include indicators for the education of lookedafterchildren or refer to specific resources for them. It is possible that authorities and their partners have chosen to focus on indicators that apply to larger numbers of children and youngpeople, such as attainment for all pupils or those eligible for free school meals. However, our review of the Plans suggests that despite the the statutory duty placed on them, for many local authorities the education of lookedafterchildren is not being identified as a key strategic priority that requires effective corporate parenting, specific targets and monitoring and dedicated resoures.
LookedAfterchildren and youngpeople are not a homogenous group with the same backgrounds or needs. They are individual children and youngpeople with their own personalities, needs and experiences. The only thing they have in common is that life has not been easy for them, and for most some aspect of their life circumstances has led to a children’s hearing or a court deciding that some form of compulsory intervention is required. A small number become LookedAfter away from home through a voluntary agreement between their parent(s) and the local authority. When children and youngpeople become LookedAfter, it is essential that there is robust and flexible planning for their future from the outset. Stability is crucial to children’s development and happiness, and the system should support stability through minimising moves and seeking permanent solutions wherever possible. Most youngpeople leaving care do not become “care leavers” – that is, they return to their birth families or find other permanent solutions before they reach their statutory school leaving age. Ensuring that their transition from care is as smooth and sustainable as possible should be an underpinning theme to care planning and decision-making.
The Scottish Executive has consistently pledged its commitment to working in partnership with local authorities, health boards, voluntary organisations and all other relevant individuals and agencies who have a contribution to make to improving outcomes for all lookedafterchildren; both those who are lookedafter at home and those who are lookedafter and accommodated. The problems are deep rooted and difficult, but not impossible to deal with. The Executive’s commitment to crack the challenges is greater than ever. We have already shown commitment in real terms by making available additional targeted resources of £16 million to support work in this area. This has yet to show results. Much more needs to be done to ensure that all lookedafterchildren and youngpeople can access the same opportunities as their peers and are supported to develop to their full potential. Scotland needs all of its youngpeople to succeed and we need to be ambitious and aspirational for each and every one of them.
[Young person] had mentioned that she would like experience working in child care and W was able to search for a suitable place following some assessment. She was able to sustain the placement. She wasn’t able to sustain school. Attendance was very variable. Over the summer holidays the nursery asked her to come back on a voluntary basis, which she agreed to. There have been a lot of changes in her care plan, sometimes very complicated but the girl has managed to maintain and W has continued to engage and the placement continues one year on. (Social Worker) 6.2.26 As well as impacting directly with the youngpeople, many of the professionals to whom we spoke explained that a significant part of their work involved raising awareness of the needs of lookedafterchildren and youngpeople, particularly within schools. Our interviewees spoke about providing basic information, raising awareness about the project and explaining their specialist roles. More specific examples of impact in this area included: helping to improve data transfer between education and social work; developing standardised procedures for informing schools when a pupil becomes lookedafter; provision of accurate and more detailed information about a pupil to aid with the planning process; keeping personal education plans up to date. We also heard of situations where increased awareness led school staff to have a better understanding of the circumstances of pupils who were lookedafter and as a consequence to ‘go the extra mile’ on their behalf.
Scotland has adopted the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach which provides a framework in which to meet children’s needs and ‘promote, support and safeguard wellbeing’ in these areas. The GIRFEC approach is now enshrined in legislation through the Children and YoungPeople (Scotland) Act 2014. This approach includes a set of eight indicators of wellbeing: Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included, often known by the acronym SHANARRI. These provide a useful context in which to consider need and we use this framework in the discussion section of this report to map areas where this research has identified that children and youngpeoplelookedafter at home are likely to have additional needs or where we find that their needs may not be fully met.
Thirdly, location and service availability. A different ‘set’ of services is available to children and youngpeople on home supervision in different areas. Very few services we identified were delivered across Scotland; instead, most services provided support to specific populations, for example, those linked to a setting such as a school or college or those linked to a locality such as a local authority or health board. These locality-based services are not necessarily replicated in other areas and where there is an equivalent, these may be set up or delivered differently. These factors in combination mean that children and youngpeoplelookedafter at home may have access to very few services; this is summarised in Figure 3. First, they are unlikely to know about many of the services that could be beneficial. Second, they may not be keen to use them. Third, they may not know if they are eligible, understand how to access them or have the confidence to do so. Fourth, they may discover that they are ineligible. Finally they may face practical or financial issues that make it difficult to maintain contact with the service.
Looked-afterchildren and young people's access to dental care is a concern to respondents. Sometimes they need to travel considerable distances to access a dentist that has the capacity to take them. A looked-after child or young person may not attend a planned dental check for reasons relating to unplanned placement moves, fear, phobias or confidence issues. Missed appointments result in some dental practices de-registering them. Some dentists are reluctant to embark on a treatment programme if a child is in a short-term placement. There are particular needs around meeting the specialist dental needs of disabled children and youngpeople.
There are specific challenges for lookedafterchildren and youngpeople accessing CAMHS. A recent report on the Mental Health Care Needs Assessment of Lookedafterchildren in residential special schools, care homes and secure care was commissioned due to concerns about the health needs, and more specifically mental health care needs, of children in these placements. 10 The Scottish Directors of Public Health had raised a specific concern about this group of children’s access to CAMHS. The report concluded that the picture was complex where ‘children may not receive timely care because of the lack of clarity about which Health Board is responsible for their health care’. The report found lookedafter and accommodated children may be four times higher than the general population to need a specialist intervention, such as psychotherapy (Lachlan et al., 2011:40). The report concluded there is a need for specialist CAMHS for children who are lookedafter and accommodated. A key challenge that is not identified in the strategy is the delivery of services to successfully facilitate the transition between CAMHS and adult mental health services. Across research studies, these transitions have been identified as a particularly challenging time for youngpeople, parents and carers.
Lookedafteryoungpeople may also be more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours (for example, engaging in sexual relationships at a younger age, having a higher number of casual partners or not using condoms). Three of the studies considered in Scott et al.’s (2013) review found that lookedafteryoungpeople may be at increased risk of engaging in risky sexual behaviours (see Lerpiniere et al. (2013) for further consideration of lookedafterchildren, risky behaviour and the link to CSE). The Jay report on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham (2014) identified the risk factors which were associated with children who are more likely to become victims of sexual exploitation. The report identified that ‘almost 50% of children who were sexually exploited or at risk had misused alcohol or other substances’ and that ‘this was typically part of the grooming process’. In addition, in terms of personal health issues of the youngpeople, ‘a third had mental health problems (again, often as a result of abuse) and two thirds had emotional health difficulties’. In consideration of broader family and home influences, the Jay report suggested that, ‘there were issues of parental addiction in 20% of cases and parental mental health issues in over a third of cases. Barriers to accessing specialist counselling and/or mental health services for children and youngpeople were a recurrent theme’ (Jay, 2014: 31-32).
Many youngpeople within this literature review are reported as highlighting the negative stereotypes others have about children in care. For example, Martin and Jackson (2002) and McClung and Gayle (2010) report that around a third of their samples felt they had been treated differently at school because of negative stereotypes. Interestingly McClung and Gayle noted that nearly all of the children in their sample who reported these concerns were living in residential care settings and attending mainstream schools. This suggests that perceptions of teaching staff may depend on the placement setting of the looked-after child. Harker et al. (2004) report only two of their sample of 56 youngpeople in care felt they had suffered from teachers’ negative stereotypes, although the setting and duration of the care placements of these youngpeople are not made clear. Youngpeople in the Harker et al., (2003) study specifically highlight the stereotypes of peers, assumed that children were placed in care because of behavioural issues. Youngpeople interviewed by Martin and Jackson (2002) and Harker et al. (2003) made suggestions that this stereotyping could be addressed through ensuring that teachers were aware of the unfairness of these assumptions, and training teachers to better understand the difficulties faced by children in care.
Referrals are made to the LAC nurse through social work, allowing for the health needs of LAAH youngpeople to be assessed at the outset of the Order so that suitable arrangements can be put in place. More recently the LAC nurses have been co-located in social work offices in order to facilitate communication between professionals. This shift has allowed a greater number of lookedafteryoungpeople to be referred to the LAC nurse. In particular it was felt that co-location has allowed lookedafter at home children and youngpeople to access health and wellbeing services at a far earlier stage and in a way that addresses the needs of the young person and family. The local authority LAAH policy stipulates an aim that the health assessment should be completed within six weeks of the young person being placed on an Order (unless there is another up-to-date health review available). The health assessment offered is holistic, attending to height, weight, immunisations, mental health, social needs, eye tests, dental health and any specialist health needs.
Services wrapped around the child Making changes for children and youngpeople is not just the responsibility of social work. It also applies to other local authority services such as education, housing, leisure and recreation as well as health boards, the police, voluntary organisations and independent providers. A National Strategy would be able to take a bird’s eye view of everyone’s responsibilities and ensure that services are wrapped around the child. Using resources effectively Although the number of children and youngpeoplelookedafter and accommodated is a small proportion of the under 18 popula- tion, this group of youngpeople requires significant investment from public services. A National Strategy would recognise the importance of providing adequate resources so that there are better outcomes for children and young
Studies about children and young people’s participation find overwhelmingly that youngpeople do not feel they are enabled to participate in decisions. Morrow’s (1999) research with schoolchildren looked at their general attitudes to rights and participation. She found that children saw themselves as excluded from the range of rights that adults enjoy, particularly as they got older and that they tended to frame this in language such as 'the desire to "have a say" in decisions that affect them' (Morrow, op cit.: 167) rather than in the jargon of participation. Evidence from studies of youngpeople who are involved with social services suggests that they also feel excluded despite the legal requirements to involve them. A study of child protection assessments, for example, found that children’s participation was minimal and that their voices were silenced (Holland, 2001). Studies of youngpeople in public care have found that they were often omitted from important meetings about their care and were not consulted about their views (Thomas, 2000; Boylan and Ing, 2005). Even when they were present they found it difficult to contribute because often they had not been adequately prepared. Morris (1998) found that young disabled people were consulted even less about their care, and workers in social services tended not to even record their opinions or wishes.
„LookedAfterChildren‟ are those who are „lookedafter‟ in terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (the 1995 Act). They are either living at home under a supervision requirement issued by a Children‟s Hearing or placed by the local authority in kinship care, foster or residential care. The term also includes children on various warrants and orders such as child protection orders 6 . On average, the educationalattainment level of lookedafterchildren is significantly lower than that of other children. One measure of this is the number of qualifications gained at various levels. In 2009/10, 56% of school leavers had gained five or more qualifications at SCQF level 5 or better (standard grade credit or better). The equivalent figures were 0.5% of school leavers who were „lookedafter at home‟, and only 4.7% of leavers lookedafter away from home. As Figure 1 shows, this is lower than the attainment for pupils with additional support needs and for those from the most deprived areas (Scottish Government, 2011b).
The UK Government report ‘Every Child Matters: Change for Children’ sets out the national framework for local change pro- grammes to build services around the needs of children and youngpeople to maximize opportunity and minimize risk (Department for Education and Skills 2004). The Government’s aim is for every child, whatever their background or their cir- cumstances, to have the support they need to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and to achieve economic well-being. The Department of Education has published regulations and guidance to improve the quality and consistency of care planning, placement and case review for looked-afterchildren and to improve the care and support pro- vided to care leavers. The full set of regulations and guidance will come into force on 1 April 2011 (Department for Education and Skills 2010). Some key factors identified in this review can be associated with a number of the outcomes from ‘Every Child Matters: Change for Children’ (Department for Education and Skills 2004). For example, ‘number of placements’ has been associated with adult employment, good health/mental well- being, risk of offending, covering the ‘being healthy’, ‘staying safe’, ‘making a positive contribution’ and ‘achieving economic well-being’ outcomes from ‘Every Child Matters: Change for
Despite their multiple difficulties, the evidence suggests that there is a systematic tendency to minimise the difficulties of this group. Their needs often go partly or fully unaddressed and these children can be actively or passively excluded from services which might otherwise be beneficial. Children on home supervision fare worse in regard to contact and support from a social worker, and having an up-to-date care plan and reviews. Practice is variable, with some children receiving a better service than others. This can depend on factors unlinked to their needs, such as the availability of resources. There is also evidence that partner agencies do not work together effectively to address poor outcomes for these children and that little effort is made to address or compensate for their earlier experiences or for ongoing difficult home circumstances. Children and youngpeoplelookedafter at home have poorer educational outcomes than other groups, including those lookedafter away from home. Children and youngpeople on home supervision often are not properly engaged in decision-making, do not understand the purpose of supervision and may
One research study which had disabled children in care as its primary focus explored the permanence patterns of lookedafter disabled children (Baker, 2007). This study highlights the complexities involved in estimating the prevalence of lookedafter disabled children. The research examined the ‘care careers’ of a large sample (n=596) of foster children over three years and looked at whether there were any particular difficulties in pursuing permanency for lookedafter disabled children. In order to identify the population of disabled children, the author had to first identify which of the foster children in the total sample were considered disabled. Using questionnaires, different respondents (e.g. social worker, foster carer or adopter depending on where the child was living) were asked if the child was considered disabled. In some cases all agreed the child either was (11%) or was not (77%) disabled. However in a number of cases people disagreed as to whether the child was disabled; a group the author called ‘contested’ (12%). Analysis of possible reasons for this divergence of opinion showed that type of impairment was important; some respondents were waiting for a diagnosis before stating a child was disabled, for others it seemed that particular conditions led to dispute as to whether to classify as an impairment e.g. ADHD and attachment disorder. In other cases time was crucial; a child may have acquired a disability over the life course of the study due to an accident, late onset of conditions, changes in impact or advances in diagnosis. It was clear in the study that categorizing a child as disabled was not a neutral act. Whilst the study did not resolve the issue of how to estimate prevalence of lookedafter disabled children, it did offer transparency in how decisions were reached as to which children were counted as disabled.
A second theme identifies deficiencies in agencies’ monitoring of the educational careers of lookedafterchildren, and the doubtful accuracy of data about their achievements (Connelly et al., 2008; Fletcher‐Campbell, 1998; Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools and Social Work Services Inspectorate, 2001; Jacklin, Robinson, & Torrance, 2006; Vincent, 2004). Advice about monitoring the educational outcomes of lookedafterchildren, was provided in a Scottish Government guide, based on the research into the EducationalAttainment of LookedAfterChildren Local Authority Pilot Projects. ii Thirdly, there have been many studies of the quality of the educational environment in care settings, the attitudes and understandings of professionals and the support arrangements generally for lookedafterchildren in education (Gallagher, Brannan, Jones, & Westwood, 2004; Harker, Dobel‐ Ober, Akhurst, Berridge, & Sinclair, 2003; Hayden, 2005; Jackson, 2007). Despite the focus on ensuring that lookedafterchildren have appropriate opportunities for intellectual stimulation, and more consistent use of personal education planning, there remain significant concerns about the quality of the care environment (Elsley, 2008).
community) which works with looked-afterchildren. In addition is director of an organisation, Placement Support, which provides consultancy to organisations (residential homes and agencies) as well as individual carers. Also, provides supervision to colleagues working as consultants to organisations.