THE number of children who are in care in Scotland has reached its lowest level for almost two decades, according to recent figures.

Scottish Government statistics revealed that as of July last year, 12,206 children were being looked after by a local authority.

This total is down by 2% on the previous year, and by almost a quarter (24%) since 2013 – when the total was 16,032.

Commenting on the recent total, the Scottish Government report said: “This is the lowest this figure has been since 2006.”

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According to the figures, 3004 children were taken into care between 2022 and 2023 – which is 1% down from the previous year and 33% lower since 2013.

Youngsters can be placed into the care of their local authority for a variety of reasons, including facing abuse or neglect at home, having disabilities that leave them requiring special care, or having become involved in the youth justice system.

Of the 12,206 youngsters in care at the end of July last year, the figures showed 20% continued to be at home with their parents, while just over a third (34%) were being cared for by a friend or relative, in a kinship care arrangement.

The figures also showed more than one in five (22%) youngsters in care were in foster care with 11% being looked after in residential accommodation settings.

Of those children taken into care in 2022-23, 55% were boys, while 45% were girls.

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The data also showed that 15% were taken into care before their first birth birthday, with 17% being taken into care between the ages of one and four.

A further 28% were taken into care when they were aged between five and 11 years old, with 30% aged between 12 and 15 and 9% aged 16 to 17.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.