Includem’s Policy Manager, Michael Shanks, reviews the latest statistics on children and young people in the Children’s Hearing system in Scotland.
The past week has seen a significant amount of press coverage of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in the matter of Part 4 of the Children and Young People Act. Perhaps unsurprisingly, by contrast the latest set of statistics from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration did not make front page news – which is a shame because they make very interesting reading for anyone who has an interest in the protection and positive future of young people.
The headlines show that in the past year, 15,329 children and young people were referred – a fall of 3% in a year and 14% since the first data was published in 1972. The number of Compulsory Supervision Orders (CSOs) also fell for the sixth consecutive year to 10,329 – a fall of 3,450 since 2009/10.
These national figures mask rises in some local authorities – in 13 out of the 32 local authorities in Scotland there has been a rise in new CSOs made in the same period and in nine the total number subject to CSOs has increased.
2015/16 is also interesting for being the first year that Glasgow no longer has the highest rate of children subject to a CSO in Scotland.
The largest group of children and young people with a Compulsory Supervision Order continue to be those looked after at home. It is this group of young people who consistently have the poorest outcomes and who are often overlooked for the support they need.
Includem’s work is focused on early intervention and prevention to achieve positive, sustainable change. We adapt our service to meet a young person’s individual needs and we believe young people should get support when they need it most – not just at convenient times for services and agencies.
Part of our work is focused on preventing family breakdown and the unnecessary use of residential care by helping parents and carers to build capacity so they can better support young people.
One young person, Alex, was 15 when he was referred to Includem.
Alex was looked after at home with a Compulsory Supervision Order. His family relationships were volatile and he was at risk of homelessness at age 15. He was drinking and taking drugs frequently.
When Alex was aged three his dad left home due to substance misuse issues. His relationship with him mum frequently broke down and Alex would regularly run away from home.
At first, Alex refused to work with Includem. We persisted, and eventually built a relationship of trust with him and his mum. Over the next seven months we provided an intensive support to him, backed up by 24/7 access via our helpline. We encouraged him to think about his emotions, challenged his alcohol and substance misuse and did focused work with him and his mum to rebuild their relationship.
If Includem weren’t there, I would be a mess right now. I trusted my worker and they helped me to do things I didn’t know I could do, and to give up other stuff. I needed some help and they got me to see that I needed help. Now I can talk to people, look after myself, stay safe and stay out of trouble.
With the majority of young people on Compulsory Supervision Orders being at home, and the most common ages continuing to be those aged 14 and 15, there is a need for a renewed focus on providing the support and service these older children need to move forward to a positive future.