Stability of patterns of care for children in Scotland

This research will explore the care histories of children in Scotland and relate them to data on exclusion and absences from school.

Our research

The overall aim of this study is to provide a detailed analysis of the pattern of placements experienced by children in Scotland looked after by Local Authorities. This research project will provide the opportunity to assess the extent to which placement patterns have changed over the period in which a range of policy developments affecting looked after children have been implemented.

The first phase of this work will:

  • Compare annual sequences of placements over eleven years of data, from year 2008/09 to 2018/19 for children of all ages. This will allow us to assess whether the patterns and stability of placements have changed over this period.
  • Produce a series of age cohorts of children starting in the 2008/09 data and follow the trajectories of these cohorts over eleven years. This will allow us to describe the patterns and stability experienced by these children over a long period of time.
  • This work has already been completed for 9 years of data up to 2016/17. An output from this has been a detailed examination of care patterns for children entering care under 1 year of age, making comparisons with data from England.

This work will be built on in a second phase, aiming to:

  • Compare annual sequences of care placements over the eleven years of data. This will allow us to assess whether the patterns and stability of care placements have changed over this period.
  • Produce a series of age cohorts of children starting in the 2008/09 data and follow the trajectories of children in these cohorts. This will allow us to describe the patterns and explore the level of stability experienced by children over a long period of time.
  • Examine the effect of a child’s experience in care on school attendance and school exclusion over their years as pupils. In particular, we will examine how the timing of these events for an individual child relate to their times in care. This analysis will use the Scottish Government’s Attendance and Absence in Scottish Schools Data and the Scottish Government’s Schools Exclusions data. We will also link to the Scottish Government’s Pupils in Scotland Census to provide some additional details of the child (e.g. ethnicity).

Data this research aims to link and analyse

  • Children looked after statistical data returned annually to Scottish Government by local authorities across Scotland
  • Attendance, absence and exclusions data returned every two years to Scottish Government by local authorities across Scotland
  • Pupil Census data returned every year to Scottish Government by local authorities across Scotland

Research team

Gillian RaabJanice McGhee, Cecilia MacIntyre, Graham Connolly, Ben MatthewsPatricio Troncoso, Professor Chris Dibben

Publications and outputs

When publications or outputs are available, they will be shared here. For more information about this project, please contact us.