Dr Lisa Bunting, Dr Gavin Davidson and Claire McCartan (QUB)
Child welfare systems in the UK are under profound stress because of growing demand and the current squeeze of austerity; they are expensive but provide a crucial investment in our children’s future; and protecting children’s safety and development is a core function of the state. Understanding child welfare services and the role that deprivation plays will contribute to primary and secondary prevention planning. This research examines the role of deprivation in explaining differences in key children’s services outcomes between and within local authorities in four UK nations. A recent pilot study funded by the Nuffield Foundation found large differences in a child’s chance of being on a child protection plan/register or being ‘looked after’ in state care between and within local authorities strongly associated with social disadvantage creating child welfare inequalities with close parallels to those found in health and education. This new study seeks to test this hypothesis by accessing national data sets to extend the English study and replicate the investigation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Accessing NI administrative data through the Honest Broker Service, we are examining how deprivation impacts on children’s services, and the quality and compatibility of data across the UK.