Redressing the child welfare inequality balance
Children’s chances of being placed on the Child Protection Register are 10 times higher in the most deprived 10 per cent of neighbourhoods compared with the least deprived 10 per cent of neighbourhoods. While their chances of being removed from their parent’s care are similar.
These are some of the findings revealed by the Nuffield Foundation funded Child Welfare Inequalities project.
A recent paper by Prof Kate Morris and Dr Will Mason has revealed that, despite such striking inequalities in child welfare, social workers in England and Scotland are ill-equipped to support families with their social and economic circumstances. They also rarely consider such support their ‘core business’.
In a context of rising childhood poverty and referral rates to children’s services, these findings are of particular importance. Research has internationally shown a strong association between poverty and child abuse and neglect.
Where this is the case, social workers and allied professionals require more time and more resources to support the most vulnerable families with their core business: food, finances, shelter.
There is currently an absence of process systems and resources to support social workers in the complex task of understanding and addressing poverty. The work of Professor Morris, Dr Mason and the Child Welfare Inequalities project aims, amongst other things, to begin redressing this balance.
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