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Funder: Nuffield Foundation
The outcomes from this study include theory-building, capacity-building, influence on systems design and contribution to policy debates in children's social care. Their overall impact should be to make child welfare services more flexible in the way they meet the needs of children and families, and make sure that new models of provision help to reduce welfare inequalities rather than exacerbating them.
As an extension of the main study, a detailed analysis of the national datasets for children's social care was carried out in partnership with Ofsted. This work aimed to build a national picture of welfare inequalities in CSC, focusing on the factors influencing the social gradient but also seeking evidence of its effect on outcomes for children.
Children often return home to their parents after a period in care. However, reunification is becoming less common and rates of re-entry to care are high compared to other exit routes such as adoption and special guardianship. To investigate the factors affecting the chances of re-entry to care, anonymised data was extracted from the national Children Looked After returns for all English local authorities (LAs) from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2020. Analysis showed that 35% of children who returned home in 2014-15 subsequently re-entered care within the next six years. The likelihood of re-entry was found to vary significantly depending on characteristics of the child and on the type and quality of provision.
For a brief overview of the project, see the project summary (PDF). We would be very happy to talk to interested colleagues and groups about this research. The team also discusses the research on the Community Care blog: Why are children treated unequally by social care services? For more information, please contact Professor Rick Hood.
This project builds on the findings of two independently-conducted studies. The first is the Child Welfare Inequalities Project. Also funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the main objective of this project was to detail the relationship of deprivation, policy and other factors to inequalities in key child welfare intervention rates through separate and comparative studies in the four UK countries. The second study was an analysis of patterns of demand and provision in children's social care, using a combination of aggregated datasets and performance indicators for all local authorities in England.