CP before age 5

Children’s involvement in the English child protection system before age of 5

Katie Martin and my paper on Referrals and Child Protection in England was published on 24th May received wide media coverage (get a copy here).

One in every five children were referred to children’s services before their fifth birthday and one in 19 investigated under section 47.

The study

Based on a Freedom of Information request with data from 75 per cent of all English children’s services departments covering over half a million children, this study shows that 22.5 per cent of children born in the 2009–10 financial year were referred to children’s social care before their fifth birthday. Three-quarters of the referred children were at some point assessed, almost two-thirds found to be in need and a quarter formally investigated. These findings show the full extent of children’s involvement in children’s social care before the age of five. One in every nine children born in 2009–10 was suspected by social workers of being abused and this high level of involvement is only justifiable if it is demonstrably reducing harm and promoting well-being of children — an outcome which is contested.
Early Help’s introduction was associated with high proportions of children being referred and assessed and rapidly increasing numbers of investigations, thus questioning its ability to prevent entry to the child protection system.
We call for a change from the current emphasis on individualised and investigative approaches to child protection in order to provide an effective and humane response to children, the majority of whom live in families affected by high levels of deprivation and poverty

A Longitudinal Study of Children Reported to the Child Protection Department in Western Australia

This study of management information provides data on all reports, investigations and findings of maltreatment of children in Western Australia from their birth in 1990 or 1991 until their eighteenth birthday. It provides prevalence rates of children being reported, investigated and found to have been maltreated. A study of more recent cohorts shows trends in recent years. A key finding is that over 13% of all children born in 1990 and 1991 were reported before reaching the age of eighteen although 71% of them were not found to have been maltreated. International data suggests this rate of 1 in 8 children being reported may be equalled or exceeded in countries with an Anglo-American forensic child protection system. There was also a disturbing increase in reports of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in recent cohorts with an estimate that almost half of those born in 2004 had been reported before their fifth birthday. These findings add further evidence to the need for social work to address and severely limit investigative approaches. In this way social workers will provide support rather than continuing practices involving high rates of surveillance and a focus on parental blame. This study of management information provides data on all reports, investigations and findings of maltreatment of children in Western Australia from their birth in 1990 or 1991 until their eighteenth birthday. It provides prevalence rates of children being reported, investigated and found to have been maltreated. A study of more recent cohorts shows trends in recent years. A key finding s that over 13% of all children born in 1990 and 1991 were reported before reaching the age of eighteen although 71% of them were not found to have been maltreated. International data suggests this rate of 1 in 8 children being reported may be equalled or exceeded in countries with an Anglo-American forensic child protection system. There was also a disturbing increase in reports of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in recent cohorts with an estimate that almost half of those born in 2004 had been reported before their fifth birthday. These findings add further evidence to the need for social work to address and severely limit investigative approaches. In this way social workers will provide support rather than continuing practices involving high rates of surveillance and a focus on parental blame.