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Care and Protection


Wed 26. 8.  11:00 - 12:30
room FA 547

Repositioning understandings of inequalities in child welfare interventions


Brady, Geraldine; Bywaters, Paul; Sparks, Tim; Bos, Elizabeth; Standen, Nicola
Coventry University, United Kingdom

Large differences in rates of out-of-home public care for children or child protection interventions have long been identified. Since 2000, the central focus of research on child welfare services in the UK has been on improving the identification, assessment and management of children at risk and outcomes for children in out of home care or examined inequalities in intervention rates between local authorities (Oliver et al., 2001; Dickens et al., 2007, Owen and Statham, 2009) but has focused on systems rather than fundamental causes . In this paper we present findings from a recent study of 10% of looked after children (LAC) and Children on Child Protection Plans (CPP) in one region in England. We will also introduce a major extension to this study (2015-2017) which seeks to explore inequalities in intervention rates within and between the four UK countries (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). We present new evidence about the extent of child welfare inequalities between local councils and between small geographical areas within local councils in England and demonstrate that these large differences in children’s chances of being involved with welfare services are systematically related to deprivation: they are social inequalities. In re-framing child welfare as a site of social inequality, our research seeks to focus more attention on populations, social structures and welfare systems and less on individual ‘risk’, parenting and professional behaviours. The underlying intention of which is to contribute to a fundamental shift in the evidence base for child welfare policy and practice in the UK and internationally (254 minus refs) References Dickens, J., Howell, D., Thoburn, J. and Schofield, G. (2007) ‘Children starting to be looked after by local authorities in England: An analysis of inter-authority variation and case-centred decision making’, British Journal of Social Work, 37(4), pp. 597–617. Oliver, C., Owen, C., Statham, J. and Moss, P. (2001) Facts and Figures: Local Authority Variance on Indicators Concerning Child Protection and Children Looked After, London, Thomas Coram Research Unit. Owen, C. and Statham, J. (2009) Disproportionality in Child Welfare. The Prevalence of Black and Minority Ethnic Children within the ‘Looked After’ and ‘Children in Need’ Populations and on Child Protection Registers in England, London, Institute of Education, University of London.