This programme aimed to explore and understand the experiences of looked after disabled children and young people in research, policy and practice arenas, in order to inform and encourage change. In Scotland, around 16,000 children are ‘looked after’ by local authorities as defined by Section 17 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. A significant proportion of these children are disabled (estimated to be 11% compared with 7% for all children), yet looked after disabled children constitute a hidden group in research, policy and practice. Data collection about disability is poor compared to other aspects of the lives of looked after children. Worryingly, the disability status of 12% of looked after children in Scotland is not known. Substantial knowledge and expertise exists in both the disability field and the looked after children field, but mutual exchange and collaboration remain limited. In our discussions with international academics and policy makers, it emerged that this gap of knowledge and oversight is mirrored internationally.

The key objectives of this knowledge exchange programme were:

• To create meaningful knowledge exchange opportunities between disabled children and young people, families, practitioners, policy makers and academics and across relevant disciplines and professions;

• To disseminate innovation in research, policy and practice;

• To generate new knowledge and understandings of the lives of looked after disabled children, leading to publishable outputs;

• To identify national and international research collaboration opportunities and develop a sustainable programme of future work;

• To raise the profile of this overlooked, under researched area.


Programme Team

Dr Graham Connelly, CELSIS, University of Strathclyde
Prof. Kirsten Stalker, University of Strathclyde
Prof. Kay Tisdall, University of Edinburgh
Prof. Nicholas Watson, University of Glasgow
Dr Louise Hill, University of Strathclyde
Moyra Hawthorn, Action for Children

Final Report


Children in Scotland publication: Making time to be heard