Inequalities in child welfare: towards an international conceptual model for practice, policy and research

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

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


    In an age dominated by neo-liberal conceptions of the state and of family life, in which demonising the poor generally and welfare recipients in particular while undermining social solidarity is a deliberate strategy, it is necessary to re-examine social work’s role in child welfare. The thrust of recent child welfare practice, policy and political pronouncements in England have favoured individualistic rather than structural solutions with a focus on identifying children at risk and intervening earlier and more decisively than in the past. This has been accompanied with a presumption that more children should be removed to permanent out-of-home care, despite at best uncertain evidence about the benefits of such interventions. The danger is that the major mistakes of the past, such as the ‘stolen generation’ or child migrants policies, are being repeated, with large inequalities seen in rates of intervention between countries and between areas within countries. However, new evidence reported here also underlines the long established but relatively little explored relationship between deprivation and a child’s chances of receiving a safeguarding intervention. Extraordinary proportions of some minority groups, such as aboriginal children, are also still being subject to safeguarding investigations: more than 50% of aboriginal children in South Australia by age 15 (Gilbert et al.,2012). Reading across from the global analysis on tackling inequalities in health may provide some useful pointers for child welfare. The minimum requirements are to develop effective international data gathering systems to record and measure child welfare demand, access, inputs, interventions and outcomes, and the development of a conceptual model explaining the relationship between deprivation and state child welfare interventions to be tested by research and to underpin policy and practice development. Fundamentally this is an issue of inequality and social justice.
    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.


    • social work
    • child welfare
    • deprivation

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