Presentation to Independent Review

Here’s my presentation made on 31st May 2021. It’s 43 minutes long and a detailed argument. The highlights are:

The investigative turn in English speaking countries:

  • in England investigations doubled in 10 years, investigations not finding harm tripled and it shows the collateral damage caused to families by investigations.
  • 21% of all children were referred to children’s services before their fifth birthday, 1 in 7 were in need and 1 in 16 investigated. These rates have increased dramatically for children born just 5 years apart.
  • In the 10% most deprived areas 45% were referred before their fifth birthday, 29% in need and22% suspected of being abused
  • Increase of about 50% in children separated from parents in 10 years and increased adoption associated with increases in care not decreases

The poor evidence base for child protection

  • no evidence that investigative approach reduces harm to children
  • poor evidence on adoption and its impact
  • much research that is not evidence based, interpretation exaggerates risk or is under challenge

What can be done?

  • Need to step out of the individualised child protection/rescue paradigm
  • Listen to experts by experience (children and parents) to find how they see the problems and possible solutions
  • Focus on problems not individuals e.g. taking a public health/educational campaign approach to issues such as supervision at bath time or the dangers of over-sleeping with infants where these have led to child deaths.
  • Strengthen and empower communities
  • Focus on support for housing, employment, anti-poverty