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Cuts both ways: ethnicity, poverty, and the social gradient in child welfare interventions

Webb, Calum, Bywaters, Paul, Scourfield, Jonathan ORCID:, Davidson, Gavin and Bunting, Lisa 2020. Cuts both ways: ethnicity, poverty, and the social gradient in child welfare interventions. Children and Youth Services Review 117 , 105299. 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105299

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This article presents the findings of a quantitative intersectional analysis of child welfare interventions within small area ethnic populations in England. Recent research has highlighted that White British children, on average, have higher rates of intervention than children from other ethnic groups in poorer neighbourhoods and lower rates in more affluent neighbourhoods. This raises the question of whether structural associations between poverty and child welfare interventions apply equally to children from all backgrounds, or whether recent research into socioeconomic child welfare inequalities is largely capturing differences between ethnic groups. We investigate this question using multilevel negative binomial regression models predicting rates of children in need, children on child protection plans, and children in State care in ethnic group populations within geographical areas with average populations of 7200 children and adults. We find significant differences in ethnic group intervention rates, depending on levels of deprivation. Available data have significant limitations, but intersectional analysis identifies that a social gradient does not apply to, or is much smaller for, many ethnic populations and is strongest for White and Mixed Heritage populations. Socioeconomic inequalities in child protection are highly contingent on the ethnicity of the population, reflecting broader sociological literature related to race and class. This limits the generalisability of non-intersectional child welfare inequalities and introduces new avenues and imperatives for research seeking to better understand both ethnic and socioeconomic inequalities in children’s social services. We consider that, beyond institutional racism, social work may need to grapple with complex forms of ‘institutionalised intersectional injustice’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0190-7409
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 August 2020
Date of Acceptance: 28 July 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 17:22

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