A foster carer with 18 years of experience has said she believes parents "get a lot of support" to keep infants at home.

Irene Wright who has looked after 26 babies and children with her husband Peter said "no one wants to see any child going into care" but said temporary placements often led to families being reunited after social work interventions.

It comes after a report found that about one in every 100 children born in Scotland goes into care before their first birthday.

Although there has been a slight dip in the numbers recently, experts say the figures are still too high.

They have called for more focus on prevention and support.

The report, Infants Born into Care in Scotland, found that 8,450 children under the age of one had been taken into care between 2008 and 2021. A third of them were less than a week old.

Co-author Janice McGhee, from Edinburgh University, called for more support for parents to help prevent separations.

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Mr and Mrs Wright are currently fostering a 12-year-old boy and another child comes for respite care once a week.

She said: "I do feel that for the babies that come into care, they need to come in at that age. 

"I know it's very hard on the parents but if you keep plug, plug plugging away and keep them at home, they end up coming into care much older but much more traumatised.

"It's a very difficult one because you don't want any child to have to come into care."

She said it was crucial to find out why parents were in the position, "that they can't safely look after their child".

She said; "With the very young, it's very often the case that the parents won't engage during the pregnancy.

"We had a baby straight from the hospital and we said to the parents 'We are not taking your child away from you. We are going to look after your baby until you are in the right place.

"We expected that baby to go to adoption but after my husband said that to them, they did absolutely everything they were told to do and after a few weeks that baby went home.

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"Sometimes they go back and we are glad they are going back. Other times you just think, 'no, no, no this isn't right."

The Scottish government said the best place for a child is with their family when that is the safest place for them.

East Renfrewshire Council is unveiling a new exhibition celebrating the contribution of foster carers to mark Fostering Fortnight, which runs until May 28.

The exhibition which will appear at venues throughout the region tells the story of six foster carers.

Mrs Wright, who has two sets of twins who are now in their thirties, said the longest they had fostered was for 22 months.

Mrs Wright said: "We had him straight from the hospital [and he went] to an adoptive family. They still keep in touch so we see him a couple of times a year."

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She said she "always knew" she wanted to foster and said the rewards were immense despite it often being "tiring and difficult."

She said: "We wanted to give back and thank God for getting four healthy children.

"I've always worked with children. 

"As a young girl I did my Girl Guide badge helping out in the local children's home.

"[Fostering] can be very tiring and difficult. [You are] trying to work out what is going on in this child's brain.

"It's very much keeping at it and trying to just continually be showing them love even though their behaviour is very difficult and erratic.

"The breakthroughs make it all worthwhile, when you think, that's it we are getting somewhere.

"It's lovely when you get that first cuddle. You might be sitting with that child on your knee and reading stories and you give them a cuddle but you know when you get that first real cuddle and you feel the child absolutely relaxing into you.

"That's lovely."

The couple intend to keep fostering for at least the next five years.

"We've not set any definite time and we've got friends in their 70s who have only just given up," said Mrs Wright.