Please note The Learning Exchange is no longer under development, this resource may be out of date. This page is provided for archival purposes only.

Disproportionality in child welfare: the prevalence of black and minority ethnic children within the 'looked after' and 'children in need' populations and on child protection registers in England

This study aimed to investigate the differences between ethnic groups in their contact with child welfare services in England. Analyses were conducted on three national datasets (the Children in Need Census, children on the child protection register and children looked after), and looked after children’s care histories were examined to see if over- or under-representation could be explained by factors such as differing rates of entering or leaving care. These analyses were supplemented by a review of relevant research literature.

The literature review found no simple answer to the question of why disproportionality exists. Analyses of datasets found that patterns of over- and under-representation were reflected at local authority level. It was found that after controlling for differences in area, the differences between ethnic groups were significant, and could not be attributed to living in areas with overall low or high levels of children involved in the child welfare system.

Charlie Owen
June Statham
Department for Children, Schools and Families