Compulsory supervision in Scotland: the unique case of children looked after at home

Victoria Welch

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Scotland’s systems of childcare are unusual; a hearing involving three trained lay people makes decisions about children’s care based on various reports, representations, and recommendations. Following hearing decisions, around 16,000 children in Scotland are subject to compulsory supervision and are thus ‘looked after’ by the state.
However, in Scotland approximately a third of these children are not removed from their families and remain at home on a Compulsory Supervision Order. Home supervision has been a feature of the Scottish system for more than forty years, however, little research has been conducted, and the purposes, methods, and outcomes of home supervision remain obscure.
In 2014/15 we conducted a mixed methods study to explore the views of people providing support and services to children on home supervision and to capture views from young people who have experienced this form of care. Among other things, we were interested to discover and describe the needs of these children and families and consider how these may differ from the needs of other looked after children. We also investigated what interventions and supports were offered, and not offered, to these children. We reported the study under the title ‘Overseen but often overlooked’.
In this presentation, I will outline key findings from the study and describe the subsequent policy and practice responses. I consider what these findings and responses tell us about whether children on home supervision are seen as ‘troubled’ or ‘troubling’, and how the locus of trouble is portrayed as the child, the family or something else. I ask ‘What troubles need these children to be formally looked after by the state and yet do not require the child to be removed from their family?’
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016
EventThird ISA Forum of Sociology - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 10 Jul 201614 Jul 2016


ConferenceThird ISA Forum of Sociology
Internet address


  • looked after at home
  • looked after children
  • compulsory supervision
  • home supervision
  • young people
  • care policy


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