Successful pilot to find homes for children in care expanded.
A successful programme to help find permanent homes for vulnerable youngsters is being rolled out nationally.
Children's Minister Aileen Campbell confirmed the Centre for Excellence for Looked after Children in Scotland (CELCIS) will receive around £580,000 a year to support the improvements for helping looked after children find a permanent home.
This means a further six new advisors would be appointed to work on Permanence and Care Excellence (PACE) and will provide support to all Scottish Councils.
Figures published today show the number of children in the care system has dropped for the third consecutive year, meanwhile permanence orders and permanence orders with authority to adopt have increased by 19 per cent% since last year.
The Minister said:
"These new advisers ensure that councils and their partners can bring in new, more efficient ways of working to find permanent homes for children in care. It is vital that children are able to achieve permanence, including through family rehabilitation, at the very earliest opportunity.
"PACE brings together staff from health, legal, education, children's panels, the court system and council services to look at the bigger picture of what is going on in that child's life and make decisions based on what will improve their circumstances.
"When a child or young person can't live at home, we owe it to them to make the process of finding a new, stable, loving family as efficient and straight forward as possible."
The Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland, showed that between August 2014 and July 31, 2015 there was a 1 per cent decrease in the number of looked after children and a 4 per cent decrease in the number on the Child Protection Register.
Ms Campbell added: "Our entire approach to supporting families in Scotland is to always act in the child's interest. That has meant an increase in taking action earlier in children's lives to address any concerns before they escalate.
"There are still children and young people who are spending too long being looked after or on the child protection register. That is why we are taking action to ensure children get a stable, secure placement - either back at home with their parents or with another family who can give them the permanence they need.
"For those children and young people whose needs are best met by being looked after we are providing better support. Since April 2015, young people have begun to be able to claim the right to stay in their foster, kinship or residential care setting up to the age of 21.
"Children who need to be in care face challenges their peers often struggle to understand. What we need to do is ensure the system is designed to give the best help possible at the earliest possible stage and lay the trust and foundation for a successful, happy life."
The findings of the Children's Social Work Statistics Scotland can be found here.
The Permanence and Care Excellence, or PACE, programme was established in 2014 to reduce the drift and delay that can hold up finding a permanent home for a child in care. It was piloted by Aberdeen City and Renfrewshire councils. An important feature of PACE is that it brings together multi agency staff teams and helps to build improvement capacity so that we can continue to improve the service and outcomes for some of our most vulnerable young people.
From April it will be compulsory for councils to use Scotland's Adoption Register to help match children with prospective families. In July we announced St Andrew's Children's Society would manage the Register and provide support and advice to ensure that the demise of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, which had delivered these services, would not impact young people in need of a home. To date there have been over 255 matches using the register.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, has announced a Child Protection Improvement Programme to run throughout 2016. This will include a review of the Child Protection System of which the Child Protection Register is an integral part.