This report presents findings in relation to the purpose, frequency, and variation in the use of Section 25 orders in Scotland. It presents results from a literature review, data from three local authorities to illustrate what is known about the use of Section 25 orders, and highlights areas that would benefit from additional investigation
In Scotland, Section 25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 enables parents, supported by social workers, to voluntarily place their child to secure their safety, into the care of a local authority away from the parental home. Work across CELCIS teams with multiple local authorities has highlighted: substantial variation in how these orders are used; large numbers of children and young people who are on, or who have been on, a Section 25 order; and a large number of Section 25 orders which have been in effect for longer than two years.
These examples of Section 25 practice raise significant questions including:
- the extent to which they promote the best interests of the child or young person
- the type of placements that they are associated with
- the extent to which they are entered into voluntarily
- the outcomes achieved for children and young people
These general questions interact with concerns which have already received some attention, such as the participation of children and young people in decision making, and the prevalence and impact of delayed decision making for children and young people.