New project to study the health of care experienced children in Scotland

Published: 2 March 2020

Project will provide the first comprehensive national level evidence on the health of care-experienced children in Scotland.

Published 2nd March 2020

A new project at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit will provide the first comprehensive national level evidence on the health of care experienced children in Scotland.

Around 15,000 children in Scotland are supported by social care workers at home or placed in kinship, residential or foster care. Children in need of care can experience disadvantage compared to other young people but currently very little is known about their health.

This research will link administrative data sources including social care, hospitalisation, birth and death registrations data for children who were in school and experiencing care in 2009.

The care experiences (type, length and number of placements) and health outcomes for these children will be followed up over seven years up to 2016. The health of children in need of care and protection will then be compared to the health of school children who did not experience care during the same time period.

The results of the project will be used to identify where and when early interventions for care experienced children should take place.

Dr Mirjam Allik is leading the study:

“Children who are in the care of their local authority are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. This research will provide an understanding of the health of care experienced children relative to other children, identifying which health disparities are the greatest. We will also investigate how different care paths and experiences impact on health, pregnancy and mortality rates."

Aileen Nicol, Head of Improving Protection and Permanence at CELCIS said:

"Care experienced children are often more vulnerable to a wide range of inequalities, including those that affect their health and wellbeing, and this is something we must all work to address. As the recently published the Independent Care Review asserted: care experienced children have the right to the highest attainable standard of health. We very much welcome the new opportunity this research will bring by linking available data in order to shape and ensure care experienced children get the healthcare and support they need and are entitled to - it's vital that we have a comprehensive understanding of the picture of health for all our young people." 

The project, ‘Comparing health outcomes for care experienced children and children in the general population in Scotland using linked administrative data’ has been funded by the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Secondary Data Analysis Initiative.

First published: 2 March 2020

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