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Attitudes to care experienced young people

Teenagers sitting on a train station platform
Researchers: Susan Reid, Ian Montagu
Published: November 2018

This report looks at views, attitudes and opinions of care experienced young people.

Aim 

This study on attitudes to care experienced young people was commissioned by the Life Changes Trust and conducted using the April/May 2018 wave of the ScotCen Panel. The report examines:

    • Relationships, knowledge, and experience
    • Views on the reasons why young people might be in care
    • Attitudes towards care experienced young people
    • Opinions on forming relationships with care experienced young people.

 

Findings

A large proportion of people in Scotland know someone with care experience, or have been in care themselves:

      • Nearly 6 in 10 people in Scotland know someone who has been in care, or have been in care themselves
      • Around a quarter (26%) have a friend with experience of being in care, while 1 in 10 (10%) have a family member with care experience.

People in Scotland recognise a variety of possible reasons why children may be in care, but some factors are seen as more likely than others:

      • Over 7 in 10 (73%) think that it is ‘very likely’ or ‘quite likely’ that ‘children are in care because their parents are addicted to alcohol and drugs’
      • Over half (54%) think it is likely that children are in care ‘because there is not enough government support for families’
      • Around 4 in 10 (42%) think it is likely children are in care ‘because the parents can’t cope with their child’s behaviour’

The majority of people in Scotland feel that being in care ‘makes no difference’ to whether children behave well or badly, whether they are a good or bad influence on others, whether they are more or less likely to get into trouble with the police, or whether someone makes a better or worse parent:

      • Over 7 in 10 (72%) think that being in care ‘makes no difference’ to whether children behave well or badly, while almost 9 in 10 (88%) believe that being in care ‘makes no difference’ to whether a child is a good or a bad influence on others and almost two-thirds (64%) feel that being in care ‘makes no difference’ to whether a child is more or less likely to get into trouble with the police
      • Over 8 in 10 (83%) believe that being in care ‘makes no difference’ to whether a person will be a good parent or not
      • However, over a third (35%) of people in Scotland do believe that children in care are more likely to get into trouble with the police and around a quarter (24%) believe that children in care are worse behaved than other children.

The majority of people feel happy for their children to form a friendship with care experienced young people and feel happy, themselves, to work alongside or have a close relative marry someone who has been in care:

      • Almost 7 in 10 (68%) feel happy for a child of theirs to form a friendship with a care experienced young person
      • Around 8 in 10 (79%) say that they would be happy if a close relative ‘married or formed a long-term relationship’ with someone who had spent most of their childhood in foster care, however a smaller proportion (71%) say that they would be happy for a close relative of theirs to marry or form a long-term relationship with someone who has spent most of their childhood in a residential home.

 

Methods 

This study was conducted using the ScotCen Panel, a random-probability online and telephone survey utilising a sample drawn from the high-quality Scottish Social Attitudes (SSA) survey. 1,031 adults aged 16 and over were interviewed between 19 April and 20 May 2018, with data weighted to take into account both non-response bias and the age and gender profile of the Scottish population.

Download the main report, technical report and annex of statistics from the LCT