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Help for the most vulnerable lacks coherence, say MSPs

Some of Scotland's most vulnerable children face a confusing and incoherent landscape of systems set up to help them, MSPs on the education committee claimed last week.

In an unusual step, the committee published an interim report, part of the way through its inquiry into decision-making on whether to take children into care.

The purpose of publishing the report was to stimulate action on a range of issues and find out from the government what it was doing to address these problems, said committee convener Stewart Maxwell.

"Children's lives can be complex but there must be more coherence between the systems intended to protect them," said Mr Maxwell, who admitted that some of the evidence had been "deeply personal and often distressing".

The report also criticised the "patchiness" across Scotland in implementing Getting it Right for Every Child.

Lack of resources should never prevent children being taken into care, MSPs added. The committee has invited Audit Scotland to consider examining the resource and capacity issues for all types of placements of looked-after children.

The government is asked to:

- calculate the total amount spent on protecting children;

- examine how preventative measures are being used to break the inter- generational cycle of children being looked after and having poor outcomes;

- look at what specific action is being taken to ensure greater social work support for looked-after children at home;

- and confirm whether it considers the balance between parents' and children's rights in the children's hearings system is correct.

emma.seith@tess.co.uk.

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