Number of children placed in care homes rises

Care Inspectorate chief executive Peter Macleod
Peter Macleod, chief executive, Care Inspectorate

More children are being placed in care home services in Scotland, a Care Inspectorate report has found.

A three-year review found between 1,100 and 1,300 children and young people experienced care home services each year. Its figures included those in local authority, voluntary and private services.

In 2014/15, there were 258 registered care homes for children and young people. During the review period there were 37 new registrations and eight cancellations of care homes bringing the total to 287.

The report said ‘well-performing’ care homes had lower numbers of people than they were registered to look after. This was to minimise change and disruption in the home.

While more children and young people were being directed to homes, fewer were being placed in foster care, independent residential school care and secure care services.

Inspectors found that across all services ‘trusting relationships’ between staff and children and young people led to more person-centred planning, support and improved experiences and outcomes.

The report said: ‘Consistent staff teams enabled positive experiences for children and young people through the development of secure relationships based on empathy, compassion, love and fun.’

But inspectors also noted that within some care homes, school care accommodation services, and fostering services, a small number of people had been inappropriately placed.

This was either because of their age, the emergency nature of the placement, or because of the location.

The document, A Review of Care Services for Children and Young People 2014-2017, said: ‘On a few occasions, we found young people who were accommodated on an emergency basis had been sleeping on sofas within care homes which we considered to be wholly inappropriate.’

Peter Macleod, Care Inspectorate chief executive, said: ‘This review shines a spotlight on the success of services that have been creative in promoting better outcomes for children and young people.

‘When experiencing care, the relationships that children and young people have with those caring for them is vital. We were pleased to note that trusting relationships between staff and children and young people were leading to better outcomes for those children and young people.

‘This review also highlights the challenges that lie ahead in reducing the inequalities that looked after children and young people continue to experience in accessing their rights to family life or full-time education.’

Services in Scotland provide care and support to almost 7,000 children and young people.