Exploring inequities in child welfare and child protection services: explaining the ‘inverse intervention law’

Paul Bywaters, Geraldine M. Brady, Tim Sparks, Elizabeth Bos, L. Bunting, B. Daniel, B. Featherstone

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    80 Citations (Scopus)
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    Attempts to record, understand and respond to variations in child welfare and protection reporting, service patterns and outcomes are international, numerous and longstanding. Reframing such variations as an issue of inequity between children and between families opens the way to a new approach to explaining the profound difference in intervention rates between and within countries and administrative districts. Recent accounts of variation have frequently been based on the idea that there is a binary divide between bias and risk (or need). Here we propose seeing supply (bias) and demand (risk) factors as two aspects of a single system, both framed, in part, by social structures. A recent finding from a study of intervention rates in England, the ‘inverse intervention law’, is used to illustrate the complex ways in which a range of factors interact to produce intervention rates. In turn, this analysis raises profound moral, policy, practice and research questions about current child welfare and child protection services.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)98-105
    JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
    Early online date31 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

    Bibliographical note

    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, [57, (2015)] DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2015.07.017

    © 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


    • child welfare
    • child protection
    • social inequity
    • social policy


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