Working effectively with neglected children and their families - what needs to change?

Elaine Farmer, Eleanor Lutman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Since practitioners have little research to inform them about how to keep neglected children safe and improve their outcomes, we conducted a study about how risks are managed over time. The research in seven local authorities involved 138 neglected children who were returned from care to their parents and followed up for another five years through reviews of case files and interviews with social workers. 'We conducted a study about how risks are managed over time' Work with neglected children and their families was dogged by 'inescapable errors', which we argue will always occur in work over time and need to be deliberately interrupted. Parents were difficult to engage, and over time abuse and neglect were often minimised so that referrals about harm to children did not lead to sufficient protective action. Parents were given too many chances to change, and files lacked information on the development of children on which decisions about intervention could be based. Using written contracts with parents would assist practitioners to assess parental capacity to make the changes required. A new approach to working with neglected children is required which will allow patterns of children's developmental and other progress to be recognised over time, rooted in collecting evidence which could be used in care proceedings if required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-273
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Effective interventions with the parents of neglected children
  • Processes affecting long-term work
  • Work with neglected children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Law


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