Report: Deaths of looked after children in Scotland 2012-2018

The Care Inspectorate has today published a report on the deaths of looked after children in Scotland.

The report draws attention to themes emerging from notifications received by the Care Inspectorate relating to the deaths of 61 care-experienced children and young people over a period from 2012 to 2018.

It contains key messages for all those with corporate parenting responsibilities including practitioners, leaders of services for children and young people, scrutiny bodies and policy makers.

The report is based on analysis of notifications, reports and associated documents submitted to the Care Inspectorate about circumstances surrounding the deaths of 42 looked after children and young people over the seven-year period 2012–2018 and notifications of the deaths of a further 19 young people in receipt of continuing care or aftercare over a four-year period from 2015–2018.

Of the 42 looked after children who died between 2012 and 2018, 16 were children whose death could be anticipated due to a life shortening condition or terminal illness.

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “The death of a care-experienced child or young person is always traumatic for families, friends, carers and staff. Each death has a far-reaching impact on all those striving to improve the wellbeing and life chances of this vulnerable group in our society.

“While we can reach no statistically valid conclusions as the numbers of deaths are so small, the experiences of these children and young people, their carers and the staff providing them with help and support provide us with valuable learning and good practice examples that merit wider dissemination.

“This report aims to support our collective endeavours to improve outcomes for care experienced children and young people.”

Among the key findings of the report are that the development of a National Hub for Reviewing and Learning from the Deaths of Children and Young People provides an opportunity to streamline current review processes following the death of a looked after child and to extend learning from the deaths of looked after children and young people to include reviews of those up to 26 years-old in receipt of continuing care or aftercare.

Establishing the Hub also provides new opportunities to bring clinical expertise to reviews of the deaths of looked after children and young people whatever the cause.

Vulnerable young person’s procedures have proved to be a useful tool in assessing and meeting the needs of young people whose behaviour may place them at risk. The report suggests that their use be adopted more widely; and notes that child protection committees that have not already done so may wish to consider whether practice would be strengthened by developing and implementing them.

The report also says more needs to be done to ensure the availability of mental and emotional health services for vulnerable and looked after children and young people.

Download the report here.

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