The “baby blindspot” in the care system for young children must be addressed, a charity has said.
NSPCC Scotland has published a report examining how children aged up to three years are treated in the care system.
It said prioritising the needs of infants will be crucial to keeping The Promise – a Scottish Government-endorsed pledge to improve the lives of those in care.
Joanne Smith, policy and public affairs manager for NSPCC Scotland, said: “Despite the youngest children in Scotland being the most vulnerable to harm, the zero to three age group can often be overlooked.
“It’s been called the ‘baby blindspot’.
“Our report is about making sure that infants are at the heart of efforts to improve support for families and the redesign of services to keep The Promise.
“But to do this, it is crucial that the workforce has the resources and is supported to meaningfully understand the voice of infants.
“It requires persistence and time to support parents and manage risk effectively.
“In addition, greater efforts are needed by all levels of Government to bolster families against poverty, improve their living conditions, and tackle the underlying causes of inequality.”
Fiona McFarlane, head of public affairs at The Promise Scotland, said: “Trusted adults who interpret their voices must do so with care and consideration.
“This is particularly significant in the context of the children’s hearings system.
“The hearings system working group, which will report next month, has carefully engaged with the rights and needs of babies and infants.”