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In-home support or out of home care? Thresholds for intervention with abused and neglected children

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Publication details

JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
DateSubmitted - 2 Mar 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Apr 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 May 2018
DatePublished (current) - Jun 2018
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)263-271
Early online date3/05/18
Original languageEnglish


The number of children referred to the English child protection system and the numbers receiving home-based intervention or placed in out of home care have been rising in recent years. It is difficult to judge whether these changes indicate that thresholds for intervention are low or high, as we know little about the severity of the maltreatment that draws children into the child protection system in England. This study compared the histories, circumstances and pathways of children receiving quasi-compulsory home-based support (under a child protection plan) to those for children ever placed in out of home care. It collected detailed data from the social workers of 390 children and is the first UK study to include a standardised measure of the severity of maltreatment, the Modified Maltreatment Classification System (MMCS). It found that the vast majority of children had experienced multiple types of maltreatment, including at least one type of high severity, suggesting that thresholds for the use of child protection plans and placement were high. The strongest predictors of placement (as opposed to home-based support) were severity of maltreatment, being unborn or under one year old at referral, being disabled and experiencing physical abuse. Findings are discussed in the context of developments in policy and services under the English government’s austerity programme.

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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Austerity, Child protection plans, Foster Care;Austerity, Maltreatment severity



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