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The views of local authorities in England on how to prevent children being in care

Corliss, Cindy ORCID:, Addis, Samia ORCID:, El-Banna, Asmaa, Maxwell, Nina ORCID:, Scourfield, Jonathan ORCID:, Warner, Nell ORCID: and Williams, Annie ORCID: 2022. The views of local authorities in England on how to prevent children being in care. Child Care in Practice 28 (4) , pp. 576-592. 10.1080/13575279.2021.1975648

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Purpose The rates of children looked after by local authorities in England have been rising for more than two decades. This study was conducted to determine what approaches local authorities have adopted that they perceive to be the most effective in preventing the need for children to come into care. It also considers how they evaluate these approaches and how they assess cost-effectiveness. Methods An online survey was distributed to leaders of children’s social services departments in England in 2018 (n = 152). Findings Sixty (39.5%) local authorities completed the survey. Respondents were asked to select up to three types of services or approaches they deemed most effective in preventing the need for children to come into care. The most popular was a whole-system approach selected by 81.7%, with Signs of Safety most commonly cited. This was followed by edge-of-care services (61.7%), early help (56.7%), family group conferences (43.3%), parenting programmes (18.3%), short break services (15.0%) and “other” services (20.0%). Local authorities who had experienced increases in the numbers of children in care were more likely to discuss approaches introduced relatively recently. Whole-system approaches and parenting programmes were the approaches most likely to have had independent evaluations. Whilst most local authorities reported the use of economic analysis methods as part of their evaluation, there was insufficient detail for a full assessment of cost-effectiveness. Originality This paper provides a description of contemporary attitudes amongst leaders of children’s services to approaches that aim to keep children out of care. It also describes approaches taken by local authorities to evaluation and assessing cost-effectiveness.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License(, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
ISSN: 1357-5279
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 25 August 2021
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2024 02:07

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