About 16,000 children in Scotland are legally ‘looked after’ by local authorities under 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, for 12% of looked after children in Scotland, their disability status is not known. Substantial knowledge and expertise exists in both the disability field and the looked after children field, but mutual exchange and collaboration is limited.
Our overarching aim is 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. We have developed a series of thematic workshops: Being Counted, Being Heard, Being Included and Being Valued to bring together academics, policy makers, service practitioners, third sector organisations, service user organisations to discuss and debate the key issues. Working with Active Inquiry, a unique Forum Theatre experience is proposed to explore what matters directly to looked after disabled children. The potential impact of the programme is to generate impetus for research, policy and practice that will ultimately improve the lives of looked after disabled children and young people.