The latest Children's Social Work statistics have been published for the year 21/22 which reveal a mixed bag of progress and room for improvement for Scotland's care leavers. 

The number of children being 'looked after' has decreased by 5% but in the same year we also saw a slight rise by 1% in the number of children entering the care system.

In regards to young people, we are encouraged to see that there was a 24% increase in the number in continuing care which suggests that more local authorities are supporting young people to stay in their care settings and hopefully therefore a clearer understanding of the policy. The feedback from our Implications of Continuing Care focus group however suggests there is still a way to go before Continuing Care is fully understood and implemented consistently across the country.  Looking at the breakdown by Local Authority you can see that the numbers in continuing care vary widely with Midlothian, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Scottish Borders having the highest rates per 1000 of the population in continuing care.

There was also an increase in the number of young people eligible for Aftercare, up by 10% on the previous year to 8053 however rather concerningly just under half of those, 4021, were actually in receipt of Aftercare which is a 4% drop on the previous year. There may be many young people in this group who have chosen not to receive aftercare but we must ensure that those who are eligible are aware of what supports are in place and that care is consistent across the country. When you drill down to accommodation type for those in receipt of aftercare it is those who are living on their own who have the highest rates, followed by those in supported accommodation/semi-independent living with those in custody or considered homeless having the lowest rates (3%) of aftercare uptake. 

In secure care whilst the overall numbers have decreased by 3%, we have also seen a worrying trend in young people being housed in settings far from their original homes and therefore established friends and communities. The latest figures highlight this with of the 74 young people currently in secure care, 33 were from outside Scotland, a massive 44% of the secure care population. More needs to be done to ensure we are not removing young people from important relationships unless it is in their best interest to do so. 

The outcomes for those eligible for aftercare has remained relatively similar to previous years with 22% in training, education or employment, compared with 23% the previous year. It should be noted that the figures are skewed as a large proportion of outcomes are unknown. This is clearly another area we need to look at to ensure we are capturing the data and using that information to ensure outcomes for care leavers can become similar to those of their non care experienced peers.  

Finally, we are buoyed to see that there is a very high percentage (88%) and indeed increase, in the number of those in receipt of aftercare who have a pathway plan and a pathway plan coordinator. 

Clearly there is still some way to go before we have a consistency of care and equality of outcomes for care leavers in Scotland. However in our discussions with our members at our events and focus groups it is clear that the desire to Keep The Promise for our care leavers is strong and we will ensure that we can support the workforce to achieve this. 

We'd also like to direct you to the Promise's excellent article on these latest statistics and what they are not telling us. It makes for an insightful and important read about looking beyond numbers and quantitative data we also need to look at the qualitative, lived experiences of those children and young people behind these figures. 

Key Statistics relating to Throughcare and Aftercare 

Number of Young People Eligible for Aftercare 

2020/21 2021/22 %+-
7323 8053 +10%

Number of Young People Eligible for Aftercare in Receipt of Aftercare 

2020/21 2021/22 %+-
3931 4021 + 2%

Number of Young People in Continuing Care Placement 

2020/21 2021/22 %+-
553 687 +24%

Number of Young People entering Continuing Care Placement 

2020/21 2021/22 %+-
261 255 -1%

Number of young people in secure care (average residence) 

2020/21 201/22 %+-
76 74 -2%

Number of young people in secure care from outside Scotland 

2020/21 201/22 %+-
29 33 +12%

%Young People Eligible for Aftercare in Education, Training or Employment 

2020/21 201/22 %+-
23 22 -1%

% Young People in receipt of Aftercare with Pathway Plan/Coordinator 

2020/21 2021/22 %+-
Pathway Plan 73% 88% +15%
Pathway Coordinator  70% 88% +18%