Hooper J, Cusworth L & Whincup H (2019) Linking administrative datasets about looked after children. Insights for policymakers and practitioners. University of Stirling. Permanently Progressing? Building secure futures for children in Scotland. Stirling. https://www.stir.ac.uk/research/public-policy-hub/policy-briefings/
The Scottish Government’s Looked After Children Data Strategy (2015) seeks to provide a robust and reliable body of data to realise the policy ambitions set out in the Scottish Government’s strategy Getting it right for looked after children and young people: Early Engagement, Early Permanence and Improving the Quality of Care. The Data Strategy specifically seeks to enhance knowledge of the outcomes for looked after children through linking administrative datasets to provide a broader evidence base and inform more effective interventions.
The Permanently Progressing? Building secure futures for children in Scotland study is following the progress of all children who became looked after in Scotland aged five or under in 2012-2013 (n=1,836). In Phase One (2014-2018), the study tested the feasibility of linking administrative data from the Children Looked After Statistics (CLAS) with data from the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) and created a linked dataset.
This briefing paper summarises key finding and contributes towards the discussion on how best to maximise the potential of rich data to underpin effective policymaking and interventions regarding looked after children in Scotland.
Linkage of CLAS and SCRA data was possible, but time consuming and complex.
Using date of birth, gender and local authority as identifiers, records were successfully matched for 1,000 children.
Across the total sample, 67% of children had records which matched as expected, leaving 33% where records either did not match or matched unexpectedly.
There was considerable variation across local authorities in the rate at which data matched; from 54% to 97%.
Two fifths (418) of the 1,000 linked children had a previous referral recorded by SCRA. Almost 60% of the children who
had a previous referral were under one year old at the time.
For most (88%) of the 418 children, the previous referral did not lead to a Children’s Hearing.
For one in five children there was an appeal to the sheriff, but for the majority (81%) there was no appeal.
care system; kinship care; foster care; adoption; data linkage