There has until recently been relatively little research on child neglect in the UK, in spite of its prevalence and impact on children. This paper considers factors that relate to outcomes for neglected children based on a five-year follow-up study. The research used case file reviews to follow up a cohort of 138 neglected children in England who had been looked after and reunified. Half of the returns had broken down after two years, rising to almost two-thirds after five years. Rates of repeat neglect and abuse were also high. The study considered children's outcomes in terms of stability and well-being. Children over the age of six were at increased risk of experiencing placement instability after their returns ended and older children's cases were less well managed. Rates of stability varied widely by local authority. Poorer well-being was associated with persistent neglect and with the presence of behaviour problems prior to the child returning home, although children with such problems attained better well-being when case management prioritised safeguarding and planning. Earlier intervention, more protective and proactive action and better planning for children's futures, particularly for older children, are needed if their outcomes are to be improved
Bibliographical noteThis is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Lutman, E & Farmer, E 2012, 'What contributes to outcomes for neglected children who are reunified with their parents? Findings from a five-year follow-up study', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 559-578 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/articleabstract/43/3/559/1636428?redirectedFrom=fulltext.
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