Scottish Government pledges to tackle obstacles to finding homes for children in care

The Scottish Government has pledged to reduce the time it takes to find a permanent home for children who need care.

Minister for Children Angela Constance made the pledge just days after it emerged the number of children in care in Dundee has reached a record high, with council services at ”saturation point.”

The Courier previously revealed that there are more than 700 children in care in the city and the council budget is heading for a £1.6 million overspend.

However, during a Holyrood debate on Wednesday, Ms Constance said action would be taken.

”Appropriate, timely and child-centred care planning will ensure that these placements are achieved,” she said.

She highlighted a report published in June which showed some children who were deemed ”at risk” had to wait up to 10 years for a home.

”Children are still waiting for a significant period of time in a system that should be working with their needs and rights at the centre,” she added.

”Two years may not seem long for adults but it is an eternity for children and some may say that this timescale is justifiable, but it can never be acceptable for a child to wait more than 10 years for a permanent home.

”And nor can it be acceptable for the majority of children, as is the case in this report, to have waited more than four years.”

Highlighting the situation in Dundee, Tory MSP Liz Smith said it was close to ”crisis point,” adding: ”Nothing can replace the love and security of a permanent and stable family environment, so it goes without saying that this must be the overall policy objective.

”If there’s a single thing that is most damaging to helping our vulnerable children it’s when bureaucracy and red tape get in the way of finding them permanent and stable homes in a time period that is appropriate.

”We should not tolerate any situation in local authorities where there are these fundamental weaknesses in that decision-making process.”

Labour MSP Claire Baker said: ”Although the report focuses on the important issue of reducing the time needed to find a permanent home for looked-after children, we are also today, as a parliament, giving a clear commitment to the importance of permanence and stability for young children.”

Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur said: ”Delays in decision making and obtaining a permanent home can undermine a child’s long-term life chances.”