Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Children in care at 25-year high

Young children - generic
The number looked after by local authorities is the highest since 1983

The number of children in local authority care has risen to its highest level for 25 years, new figures reveal.

A total of 14,886 children were being "looked after" at the end of March - a 6% rise on the previous year - the Scottish Government report said.

It said 11% were in residential care, 20% had been placed with foster carers and 16% with friends and relatives.

The report said 43% of "looked-after children" were at home with parents, under a supervision order.

The percentage of children in residential care was the lowest since records began, although the actual number, about 1,600, has remained stable since 2000.

'Significant increase'

Children's minister Adam Ingram said those in need were being identified and action was being taken.

Mr Ingram said: "If we are judged as a nation on the past treatment of our most vulnerable young people then that judgment must be damning and we are determined to improve things."

"That's why we recently moved to clearly set out what is expected of everyone responsible for our looked-after children and to launch measures to improve the educational attainment and achievement of young people in care."

Cosla spokeswoman Councillor Isabel Hutton said: "There are some positive signals in these statistics, for example a substantial increase in the numbers of care leavers offered aftercare services and a significant increase in those care leavers in education, training and employment.

"Improved identification and intervention with families may well be a contributing factor to the increased numbers entering care.

"However, we are absolutely clear that more needs to be done to improve outcomes for children and young people in care."

Liz Smith MSP, Tory spokeswoman on children, schools & skills, said: "Scottish Conservatives believe that there has to be better educational support for children who are excluded from school and we welcome the pilot schemes, conducted across 18 council areas in Scotland, which have examined a variety of techniques to provide direct support to help youngsters become the major stakeholder in planning their own educational and employment future."

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