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Residential Service Review and Redesign, Social Care and Wellbeing

In 2009/2012, Aberdeen City Council embarked on a significant redesign of all in-house Social Care and Wellbeing Children's Services. The review included children's services being brought under the management of a Head of Children's Services and the realignment of delivery across the following themes; Family and Community Support, Reception and Protection, Children and Families, Alternative Family Care, and Young People's Care and Accommodation and Planning and Development.

Update: Throughcare Workshops 23 January 2013

The following documents give details of workshops for Throughcare staff and partners on 23 January 2013 in the Star Ballroom at the Beach Ballroom. A workshop on the redesign of Aberdeen City Council’s residential care services will take place in the morning, and in the afternoon Who Cares Scotland will be running a Service Mapping Workshop, the purpose of which will be to co-ordinate a partnership bid for funding for local service development in line with one or more of the morning's priority areas for development or transformational change.

If you have been identified to take a place at one of these events then complete the sign-up sheet below and send back to Natalija Clark, Planning and Development Officer (Children’s Services) on

The Residential Care Service Review and Redesign

In May 2012, Social Care and Wellbeing Services commenced the review and redesign of the Residential Care Service. Phase 1 involved establishing a project board and work programme, scoping current provision, gathering information about the service and outcomes for young people in residential care and researching best practice to help inform future decisions.

Phase 2 has recently commenced and will involve consulting people who are best placed to provide feedback on how well we are doing and what we should do differently in the future. This will be achieved through interviews, surveys, group discussions and workshops; with young people, staff and partners who work with us to improve outcomes for young people.

The review aims to consider if the current mix of services and supports are achieving the intended outcomes for children and young people placed in the care of the local authority, those who are looked after away from home and whether the delivery represents value for money.

The scope of review includes current business processes (referral, assessment and care planning approaches), practice standards, policies and procedures, record keeping, quality assurance and performance management, self assessment and self evaluation and staff induction, training and development.

The establishments to be included in the review are:

  • Gilbert Road Children's Home and the two satellite units
  • Kincorth Children's Homes
  • Kingsfield Children's Home
  • The Willows Children's Home

The report will include recommendation for the future review of Linksfield Children's Home (operated by Barnardo's), Children's Rights and Who Cares? Scotland Advocacy Services and Throughcare Services.

Engagement and Participation

The engagement process on the development of the 'future state model' includes four stages:

Stakeholder Engagement Workshops
 Stage Engagees  Date
1 Service Users  30 October 2012
2 Residential Care Staff  1 & 2 November 2012
3 Social Care and Wellbeing Staff and Council Staff  5 November 2012
4 Partner Organisations  7 November 2012

The consultation process on the draft report includes five stages:

Stakeholder Consultation Process
 Stage  Consultees  Date
1 Project Board December 2012
2 Children's Services Management Team December 2012
3 Elected Members December 2012
4 Staff and Union Consultation January – March 2013 
5 Committee Consultation March - May 2013

An online survey will become available shortly for children, carers, residential staff, Social Care and Wellbeing colleagues and partners to communicate their views. A link to the survey will be added to this page.

You can also express your views or ask questions of the project board by emailing them to:

For further developments and updates on the residential childcare review and redesign please visit this page regularly.

  • Kay Dunn
    Project Manager, Review and Redesign of Residential Child Care
    Children's Services Manager (Planning and Development)
    Social Care and Wellbeing
    01224 523  321

The following is a downloadable questionnaire for young people to complete who are currently or previously been accommodated in Aberdeen City residential care. The feedback will be published when available.

For residential staff, council staff and partners please follow the link to the residential redesign consultation. Your input is greatly appreciated.

Strategic Framework for Service Delivery

National Residential Child Care Initiative (NRCCI)

The Scottish Government commissioned the National Residential Child Care Initiative (NRCCI) in 2009, to carry out a strategic review of residential children care services in Scotland. The aim of the review was to set out a blueprint standard for future direction of service provision across Scotland's 32 Local Authorities. Their main recommendations were:

  • Culture change – integration of services to support transitions into and out of residential care services;
  • Workforce – trained and motivated staff;
  • Commissioning - strategic commissioning based on integrated planning;
  • Improving learning outcomes – implementation of 'We Can and Must Do Better' framework and improving positive post school destinations;
  • Improving health outcomes – ensuring access to health services and the earliest opportunity.

Getting It Right for Every Child

The Scottish Government's framework, Getting it Right for Children in Residential Care, sets out the expectations on Local Authorities regarding their duty to children and young people who are placed in their care through either a voluntary agreement with their parents or by compulsory measures of supervision. Local Authorities' statutory duties towards children and young people looked after away from homes include:-

  • Safeguarding and promoting their welfare;
  • Making use of services that would be available for children and young people were they cared for by their parents;
  • Taking steps to promote regular and direct contact between a child or young person who is looked after and any person with parental responsibilities (so far as its practicable, appropriate and consistent with the duty to protect their welfare);
  • Providing advice and assistance with a view to a time when they are no longer looked after;
  • Finding out and have regard to their view/parents views and any other relevant person when making decision;
  • Taking account, as far as is practicable, of their religious persuasions/racial origin/cultural and linguistic background.

The key findings set out in Getting it Right for Every Child in Residential Care shows that Local Authorities must:

  • Have clear strategies and plans for residential childcare and should monitor and review progress regularly;
  • Review and forecast the need for various types of residential childcare and develop costed plans to ensure that these needs will be met;
  • Undertake regular reviews of services for looked after children in residential care to ensure they are achieving best value;
  • Participate in joint or national approaches to commissioning residential childcare where this may lead to better availability and control of costs;
  • Review their systems for recording and using management information about looked after children;
  • Ensure regular, consistent and accurate information is available to senior managers and councillors to help them understand and make strategic decisions about residential childcare services;
  • Work with independent providers to develop and use formal contracts;
  • Set realistic budgets and service plans based on strategic reviews and forecast of needs;
  • Have in place full contractual agreements with independents providers and service level agreements with in-house provision which include details of the specific care and intended outcome for each child;
  • Along with NHS boards, implement full joint budgeting that includes social work, education and health where possible or establish a more standards approach to funding residential school placements that would reduce the need for negotiation on a case by case basis.

Corporate Parenting 'These are Our Bairns'

The Local Authority, as the Corporate Parent, should undertake self evaluation using the following key questions:

  • What kind of services are we prepared to pay for?
  • Is residential care a service of first choice for those who need it?
  • Will commissioning become strategic rather than ad hoc?
  • Do we really need personalisation for children and young people?
  • Are we going to recognise throughcare and after-care as an integral part of the job?
  • Are we going to invest in ensuring quality of leadership and staffing in residential services and for those who commission and place children in these services?

Residential Child Care Service is also underpinned by the following documents:

  • We Can and Must Do Better;
  • Opportunities for All;
  • National Care Standards;
  • The United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child (Articles 1-42);
  • Local Policies

Looked After Statistics and Population Demographics

Information on looked after children is published annually by the Scottish Government. The latest publication was released on 23 February 2011 and covers the period from 1 August 2009 to 31 July 2010. At the end of that year, there were 690 looked after children in Aberdeen – see table I. (At the same time in 2010, there were 701 looked after children in Aberdeen). On 31 July 2010, looked after children in Aberdeen accounted for 1.7% of the city's 0-18 population. Although this is higher than the Scottish average, the rate is broadly in line with comparator local authorities.

Table I: Looked After Children, August 2009 - July 2010
  Children looked after on 31 July 2010   %age of 0-18 population  Starting to be looked after in 2009/10  Ceasing to be looked after in 2009/10
Aberdeen   690 1.7 219 202
Argyll & Bute   250 1.4 82 78
Dundee 637 2.2 228 193
Edinburgh 1,319 1.5   424 422
Renfrewshire 790 2.1 228 191
South Ayrshire 351 1.6 131 92
Scotland 15,892 1.4   4,859  4,504

Source: Scottish Government, Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10

Table II indicates the rate of looked after children per 1,000 population aged 0-18, between 2006 and 2010. It can be seen that the rate in Aberdeen has remained higher than the Scottish rate during that period.

Table II: Rate of Looked After Children per 1.000 population aged 0-18
  2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Aberdeen 14.5 14.5 16.2 17.4 16.9
Argyll & Bute 12.8 11.5 11.0 11.1   13.9
Dundee 15.8 18.4 20.8 20.0 21.5
Edinburgh 13.8 14.3 15.0 15.4 15.1
Renfrewshire 13.1 15.5 17.8 19.3 21.4
South Ayrshire 10.8 11.5 12.1 12.8 15.7
 Scotland 11.6 12.6 13.4 13.8 14.3

Source: Scottish Government

The key characteristics of looked after children in Aberdeen are shown below in table III. There are more male than female looked after children, although this is in line with most other Scottish local authorities. Aberdeen has a slightly higher than average proportion of looked after children in the under 5 age group, 26% of all looked after children compared with the overall Scottish figure of 21%. Aberdeen also has a relatively high proportion of looked after children with disabilities, 16% compared with the Scottish average of 11%.

Table III: Characteristics of looked after children in Aberdeen, 31 July 2010
  Number %
Male 389 56
Female   301 44
Children under 5  180 26
Children 5-15 461 67
Children 16 or over 49 7
Children known to be from minority ethnic groups 27 4
Children known to have a disability 110 16

Source: Scottish Government, Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10

Table IV shows the accommodation of looked after children. Over nine out of ten children who were being looked after on 31 July 2010 were in a community setting, mostly at home with their parents or with friends /relatives. Just under a third of looked after children were with foster carers, either provided or purchased by the council. Of the 65 looked after children in residential accommodation, most were in either a local authority home or a residential school.

Table IV: Accommodation of looked after children, Aberdeen, 31 July 2010
   Number  %
In the community 625   91
At home with parents 240 35
With friends/relatives 145 21
With foster carers provided by the council 117   17
With foster carers purchased by the council 94 14
With prospective adopters 29 4
In residential accommodation 65 9
In local authority home 20 3
 In residential school 31 4
 Other 14 2

On 31 March 2006, 588 Aberdeen children were looked after, 1.5% of the estimated 0-18 population of the city at that time. This was just over a hundred fewer than the equivalent total on 31 July 2010. However, a higher proportion of looked after children were in a community setting in 2010 than 2006 – see table V.

Table V: Accommodation of looked after children, Aberdeen, 2006-2010
   As at 31 March 2006    As at 31 July 2010  
   Number %  Number %
In the community 505 86  625 91
In residential accommodation 83 14  65 9
All accommodation types 588  -  690  -

Source: Scottish Government

Children who are looked after in a community-based setting in Aberdeen tend to reside in or near the city's priority neighbourhoods. Data for the end of July 2011 shows that over half of looked after children were in Torry, Seaton, Tillydrone, Woodside, Cummings Park, Middlefield and Northfield. Eighty nine looked after children were located in Torry, compared with none in Cove.

As of 31 March 2012 there were 95 children placed with independent foster providers.

At year end 20011/12, there were 136 children placed with foster carers employed by Aberdeen City Council, a 21% increase on 20010/11. There were 95 children placed with independent foster carers, a 3% reduction on 2010/11. The costs of these placements range from 50k - 85k per child per year.

A report on the educational outcomes for looked after children was published by the Scottish Government on 27 June 2011. It contains statistics obtained by linking data on looked after children provided by local authority social work services with educational data provided by publicly funded schools, the Scottish Qualifications Authority and Skills Development Scotland.
Table VI below indicates the average tariff scores for looked after children in Aberdeen and the other comparator authorities. Tariff scores are used by universities and colleges as a way of setting minimum entry requirements. Students collect tariff scores through the different qualifications they are awarded while in education . As can be seen from table VI, the average tariff score for looked after children in Aberdeen is 61, which is lower than the Scottish average of 67.

Table VI: Average tariff scores for looked after children who left school during 2009/2010.
   No of looked after children Average tariff score
Aberdeen 17 61
Argyll & Bute 7 60
Dundee 12 74
Edinburgh 40 78
Renfrewshire 31 58
South Ayrshire 31 58
Scotland 513 67

Source: Scottish Government.
Note: Information relates to children or young people who have been looked after continuously during the 12 month period, are of school leaving age and left school during or at the end of the school year.

Table VII shows the average tariff scores for all school leavers and looked after children in both Aberdeen and Scotland. It can be seen that the average tariff score for all school leavers in Aberdeen is over fives times greater than the average tariff score for looked after children in the city. The deficit in scores is reflected nationally. However, this comparison is influenced by the fact that looked after children generally leave school at the earliest opportunity. For Scotland, around 90% of looked after children who left school during 2009/10 were aged 16 years or under, compared to only 37% of all school leavers being of that age. (Figures are not available at local authority level).

Table VII: Average tariff scores for all school leavers and looked after children 2009/10
   Aberdeen   Scotland
  No of pupils Average tariff score No of pupils Average tariff score
All School leavers 1,770  354 54,011 372
Looked after children 17 61 513 67

Source: Scottish Government

Attendance rates for looked after children are lower than the average for all school pupils. In 2009/10, the attendance rate for looked after children in Aberdeen was 88.4, compared with the overall Aberdeen average of 93.4. Exclusion rates are also higher for looked after children. In 2009/10, there were 200 exclusions for looked after children, equivalent to a rate of 627 exclusions per 1,000 pupils who are looked after – see table VIII. The overall exclusion rate in Aberdeen in that year was 67.

Table VIII: Looked After Children, Absence and Exclusion Rates, 2009/10
  %age Attendance for Looked After Children Total Exclusions for Looked After Children  Exclusions per 1,000 pupils who are looked after
Aberdeen   88.4 200 627
Argyll & Bute 88.9  53 417
Dundee 90.8 160 525
Edinburgh 88.6 205 303
Renfrewshire 92.4 122 280
South Ayrshire 89.0 28 161
Scotland 87.8  2,698 365

Source: Scottish Government, Educational Outcomes for Scotland's Looked After Children

Of those young people who were looked after by the local authority, 97.1% had an allocated Social Worker in June 2011. Those who were looked after in residential care provided by a private or third (or voluntary) sector provider, placed in residential accommodation or other community placements all consistently had an allocated social worker – see table IX. There has been improved performance in the allocation rates for looked after children placed with friends or relatives or in foster care placements provided or purchased by the Council.

Table IX: %ages of Looked After Children Allocated to Social Work Services, Aberdeen, Snapshot April-June 2011
 Setting Apr-11 May-11 Jun-11
At Home with Parents 98.6  97.6 96.7
Away from Home with Friends or Relatives 93.0  94.0 96.8
Residential Care (Council) 100.0  100.0 100.0
Residential Care (Private/Voluntary) 100.0 100.0 100.0
Residential Care (Residential School) 100.0 100.0 100.0
Residential Care (Secure Accommodation) 100.0 100.0 100.0
Other Community 100.0 100.0 100.0
Foster Care (Council) 97.4 99.1 99.1
Foster Care (Independent) 100.0 98.9 96.8
Prospective Adopters 89.3 89.7 89.7
All looked after children 97.0 97.1 97.1

Source: Aberdeen City Council, Social Care & Wellbeing

Local authorities in Scotland are required to carry out a needs assessment for each young person who ceases to be looked after beyond school age, with a view to determining what advice, assistance and support should be provided. In addition, local authorities must carry out a pathway assessment for aftercare services on young people who are over school leaving age but are still looked after. Along with the views of the young person, the actions to be taken as a result of the assessment are recorded in a pathway plan.

In 2009/10, 69 young people left care in Aberdeen, of whom 30% had a pathway plan in place when they left care. In the previous year, 35% of young care leavers had a pathway plan. Just over half of young care leavers in Scotland had a pathway plan in 2009/10, but the situation is very variable at Council level – see table X. A quarter of young care leavers in Aberdeen had a pathway co-ordinator, compared with the Scottish average of 69%.

Table X: Care leavers beyond minimum school leaving age, 2009/10
   No. of care leavers in year to 31 July 2010 % with a pathway plan  % with a pathway co-ordinator
Aberdeen   69 30 25
Argyll & Bute 28 43 50
Dundee 64 45 45
Edinburgh 13 67 54 
Renfrewshire   77 14 31
South Ayrshire 46 100 100
Scotland 1,450 51 69

Source: Scottish Government, Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10

On 31 July 2010, 144 young people in Aberdeen were eligible for aftercare services, significantly higher than the previous year when the 31 March 2009 total was 94. Just over 60% of eligible young people were receiving aftercare services, slightly lower than the Scottish average of 65% - see table XI. Thirty per cent of those receiving aftercare and who had a known economic activity were in education, employment or training on 31 July 2010.

Table XI: Young people eligible for aftercare services, 31 July 2010
  Young people eligible for aftercare services % receiving aftercare services   % receiving aftercare services with an unknown economic activity
Aberdeen   144 61 5
Argyll & Bute 29 100 52
Dundee 120 52 2
Edinburgh 405 84 29
Renfrewshire   149 15 45
South Ayrshire 166 49 19
Scotland 3,918 65  18

Source: Scottish Government, Children Looked After Statistics 2009-10

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