The number of babies aged less than a year being taken into care has increased by more than a quarter in the past decade, new figures have revealed.
In 2008, 502 infants under 12 months of age started being looked after. This figure has soared to 632 in 2018 – a 26 per cent rise.
However, last year’s total was down on the 647 recorded in 2017, according to the latest Scottish Government figures.
Children’s social work statistics showed that at the end of July last year, an estimated 16,751 youngsters were either in care or had been placed on the child protection register.
Of the 14,738 looked-after youngsters, a total of 4,063 were taken into care over the period from August 2017 to July last year – 3 per cent less than the previous year and the sixth consecutive year the number of youngsters in care has fallen.
There was a 3 per cent rise in the number of children on the child protection register, however, from an estimated 2,600 in 2017 to an estimated 2,668.
Authorities noted an average of 2.6 concerns for each youngsters there was a case conference for. The most common of these were for emotional abuse and neglect, with 1,051 and 1,044 concerns identified respectively, followed by domestic abuse (933 concerns) and parental substance misuse (983).
Care plans were in place for 95 per cent of the estimated 14,738 youngsters who were looked after at the end of July last year – about the same proportion as in 2017.
But one in ten children being looked after by a relative as part of a kinship care arrangement did not have such a plan in place, leaving 393 youngsters without a formal plan for their care.
Children’s minister Maree Todd said: “I welcome this report, which shows the number of children and young people who are looked after has decreased by 1 per cent, as well as showing a sixth consecutive annual reduction.
“The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to reduce the number of looked-after children and young people, increasing placement stability and permanence, and demonstrating that our work in this area is having a positive impact.”