children looked after by the local authority
Children who are unable to live at home in their own families because of circumstances beyond their control, may have to be looked after by the local authority. They are accommodated locally in either residential care or in family based foster care. The Council has specific and extensive responsibilities towards them, in terms of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.
The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration at all times. The focus is on returning the child home as soon as practicable. Contact between the child and his/her family is encouraged. The child is fully consulted about and involved in all plans about his/her future drawn up by the relevant persons and disciplines, and subject to review. The views of parents and other relevant adults are also sought and taken into account when decisions are taken. Assistance and advice are provided to prepare children for moving back home or for moving on.
The Children and Families Team provide the assessments, care planning, monitoring and review of these services. They offer intensive and specialist social care support, trained foster carers, specialist workers for family placements, a local residential resource and access to specialist residential resources outwith Shetland. Children's Hearings provide the statutory monitoring and review of "looked after" children through a supervision requirement.
Health services can also provide services to children's parents to assist rehabilitation, including a consultant psychiatrist, psychiatric nursing service, residential detoxification/rehabilitation and in-patient services as appropriate.
The contribution of teaching and guidance staff and youth and community workers is also essential to the process of assessment and care planning. Educational psychology offer valuable input to individual children and a consultation service to education, community work and social care staff. Learning support also play an important role in delivering individualised learning packages.
The policy objective of this multi-disciplinary and coordinated approach is to keep children in their local community as far as possible.