Inequalities in child welfare: An inverse care law?

Geraldine M. Brady, Paul Bywaters, Tim Sparks, Elizabeth Bos

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding


    This paper develops the theme of the relationship between deprivation and inequalities in child welfare, which is the subject of other presentations at this conference. It has long been established that deprivation is the main factor explaining differences between local councils in England in the proportion of children on child protection plans or in out-of-home public care. However, greater research, policy and practice attention has been paid to factors other than deprivation in trying to address inequalities in children’s chances of being on the receiving end of safeguarding interventions. Issues of service structures, management, quality control and front line practice have all been the subject of extensive scrutiny. Recent evidence from England which reinforces the central relationship with deprivation, nevertheless also shows large variations between local councils for children from neighbourhoods with equivalent levels of deprivation. In other words, variations in practice are also significant. The analysis of data for children on child protection plans or in out-of-home care suggests that children living in more affluent councils, and in more affluent areas within councils, may be more likely to be subject to safeguarding interventions for a given level of need than children in more deprived councils or areas. This might imply the equivalent for child welfare services of the long established inverse care law in health: better off children have a greater chance of receiving safeguarding services than poorer children. Greater attention should be paid to understanding these structural inequalities and to equalising children’s chances of receiving good opportunities for development.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development - Melbourne, Australia
    Duration: 9 Jul 201414 Jul 2014


    ConferenceJoint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development

    Bibliographical note

    The full text of this item is not available from the repository.


    • deprivation
    • inequality
    • child welfare
    • social work
    • UK


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