NEWS - New report on Infants Born into Care in Scotland

This report is one of the first outputs from a project that uses data linked over time to describe the patterns of care for these infants.

Titled 'Infants Born into Care in Scotland: Initial Findings', the study has been completed by ADR Scotland and the main source of data used is the linked Looked After Children Scotland (LAC-S) data  from 2008-2017, which is described in detail in the accompanying Technical Report.

Key initial findings include:

  • The rate of children becoming looked-after under 1 week in Scotland was almost identical to that for England, with both increasing in a very similar way over these recent years.
  • For all children under 1 year of age the proportion being looked after in Scotland is higher than the rate for England. Over this period in Scotland, 1 in every 85 children born in Scotland were in care at some time during their first year.
  • Some children have fairly short periods in care, especially those who return home to their parents, but others have longer times where they may move between different homes and carers and have many contacts with children’s hearings or sheriff courts.

Co-authors of the report, Gillian Raab and Janice McGhee, both from the University of Edinburgh, explain:

“These children have complicated starts to their young lives. It has been a complex task to make sense of over 13 thousand records about where the children were cared for as well as over 21 thousand legal reasons for their being in care. We hope that this research contributes towards better understanding patterns of care in the first year of life in Scotland.”

Celia Macintyre, fellow co-author and part of the ADR Scotland Data Acquisition Team in Scottish Government, states:

“Working collaboratively with the researchers has helped to inform our approach to understanding data quality and enhanced our knowledge of the data. We will release further documentation on the process of creating the data and guidance on how to use the dataset in the coming months, to support further use of the data for research in the public good.”

This report provides insights that will be of interest to policymakers and practitioners across social services in Scotland and beyond. It offers a starting point for discussion and understanding of children who are born into care and an opportunity to review how parents might be better supported to sustain care for their children.

The report also makes recommendations as to how this work could be expanded in future, such as further linkage to other sources, in order to paint a fuller picture of the children and their families.

You can download the full report here, as well as the technical report and data spreadsheets.

The authors will be discussing the report in a symposium tomorrow (Thursday 5 November) - ‘Public data for public good: towards better understanding children’s lives’.

This article was published on 04 Nov 2020