Highlands & Islands

'Heightened' worry over babies in drug-abusing families

A boy
Image caption More young children have been placed with foster carers

A "heightened anxiety" among professionals and society has played a part in raising numbers of vulnerable Highland babies being taken into care.

More children aged from just days old to three years old have been removed from drug-abusing households and placed with foster parents than previously.

Highland Council's Bill Alexander said there was a greater awareness of the risks in such families.

The situation has been highlighted in a report to councillors.

The paper to Thursday's full council said the number of children in Scotland in care was at its highest figure since 1989.

In the Highlands the rise has been far less and the overall number of looked after youngsters has fallen over the past two years, council officers said.

However, of the children in care more of them were babies and young children from families where illegal substances were abused.

There has also been an increase in youngsters being looked after in placements, rather than being supervised and supported at home.

'Significant change'

The report said there was a "heightened societal and system anxiety about risk" posed to children in drug-abusing households.

Social work director Mr Alexander said the phrase "reflects the reality" that professionals, the public and the media were more anxious for youngsters' wellbeing.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "At any time, there are around 290 children in Highland who are looked after away from home, in children's units and fostering settings.

"The significant change in the last couple of years is the increased number of very young children who have come into care, and are included in these figures.

"There are around 20 more young children than there would have been in previous years."

An increase in babies being placed into care was previously highlighted in a council report in August.

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