In recent years, the political context of children’s social care in England has shifted from doubts about the efficacy of out-of-home care to the view that more children should be separated from their birth parents, earlier and more speedily. Brown and Ward’s (2014) article ‘Cumulative jeopardy’ reflects this transition, making the case that there is a ‘gross mismatch between timeframes for early childhood development and professional responses to evidence of abuse and neglect in the early years’ (p.6). This analysis of the research on which their argument is based, ‘Infants suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm’, raises questions about whether the evidence presented adequately supports the conclusions drawn. Four aspects of the study are addressed: methodological, empirical, conceptual and ethical. It is argued that it is premature to reach a judgement about the balance of evidence for more widespread and early separation of infants from birth parents on the basis of the study.
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NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Children and Youth Services Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Children and Youth Services Review [Vol 52, 2015] DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.03.001 .
- child protection
- very young children
- decision making
- children’s rights
- family support