Identifying and Understanding Inequalities in Child Welfare Intervention Rates: Comparative studies in four UK countries. Single country quantitative study report: Northern Ireland

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Abstract

This report outlines the initial findings from the Northern Ireland Child Welfare Inequalities Project:
We analysed routinely collected administrative data from the Northern Ireland’s Department of Health (DoH) relating to children on child protection registers and in care (looked after) on 31 March 2015. The data were linked by postcode identifiers to area-level indicators of multiple deprivation. These are the key findings:
• There is a clear social gradient whereby, for every level of deprivation, the rates of children on child protection registers and looked after children increase: children living in the most deprived areas in NI have a 6 times higher rate of being placed on a CPR and a 4 times higher rate of becoming LAC than those in the least deprived areas.
• There is no statistically significant difference between boys and girls in terms of child protection and looked-after children rates at each level of deprivation.
• There are statistically significant differences in CPR and LAC rates between different age groups - after controlling for deprivation, 16-17 year olds are less likely to be on CPRs than other age groups and more likely to be LAC.
• Although deprivation has a significant effect on child welfare interventions the gradient is less steep in NI than other UK nations, despite NI having significantly higher levels of deprivation. There are a number of possible explanations for this:
- more deprived local authorities receive higher number of referrals but they respond to these differently, screening more out, stepping down statutory plans more quickly and conducting less long term work with families – the fact that NI has the highest referrals rates across the UK may lead to higher thresholds for intervention, reducing CPR rates and the potential association with deprivation.
- the operation of NI’s integrated health and social care system, together with the presence of a strong community sector and developments in integrating and co-ordinating family support services across the region, may act to ameliorate some of the impact of deprivation by better meeting the support needs of families without recourse to statutory intervention.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNuffield Foundation
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

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