Child Welfare Inequalities Project
The Child Welfare Inequalities Project, led by the University’s Professor Paul Bywaters, studied 6,000 children in England on child protection plans and 8,000 children in care, across a representative sample of 18 local authorities.
NEW research has found extreme inequalities between ethnic groups in the proportions of children being looked after in care in England.
‘White British’* children are ten times more likely to be in care than ‘Asian Indian’ children. ‘Black Caribbean’ children are 20 times more likely.
These inequalities are poorly understood and little attention is paid to them in children’s services policy.
The implications for social justice are profound. So are the implications for the funding of services.
Funded by the Nuffield Foundation and carried out by a team from seven universities, led by Professor Paul Bywaters of University of Huddersfield, the Child Welfare Inequalities Project studied 6,000 children in England on child protection plans and 8,000 children in care, across a representative sample of 18 local authorities.
A number of headline findings came out of the work.
The study highlighted various areas for concern, which included:
According to Professor Bywaters, there is an urgent need to understand why these extreme differences occur in order to learn the lessons for policy and practice, and that a major research programme is required.
“Gaps in educational attainment have been significantly reduced over the last twenty years. Reducing inequalities in care rates should become a central government policy objective for the Department for Education.
“The scale of the inequalities has considerable implications for the direction of children’s services and for how scarce funding is spent. If the proportion of children in care in all other groups was reduced to that for ‘Asian Indian’ children, spending would be reduced by 90%,” he said.
* Throughout, we use official categories used in the census to describe ethnic groupings. We put these terms in inverted commas to recognise that these are artificial labels and that there is great diversity of background, history, culture and religion amongst ‘Asian Indian’ or ‘Black African’ children, as there is amongst ‘White British’ children. However, these categories are a useful starting place for seeing patterns of policy and practice affecting children.
** By ‘small neighbourhoods’ we mean Lower Super Output Areas (LSOA), local geographical areas with an average population of around 1500 used in the Census and other official statistics. Each LSOA can be ranked in terms of deprivation by Index of Multiple Deprivation scores.