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Why are there higher rates of children looked after in Wales?

Hodges, Helen and Scourfield, Jonathan ORCID: 2023. Why are there higher rates of children looked after in Wales? Journal of Children's Services 18 (3/4) , pp. 165-179. 10.1108/JCS-02-2022-0007

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider some possible reasons for the relatively high rate in Wales of children looked after by local authorities. Design/methodology/approach Selected potential explanations for Wales having higher rates were tested against aggregate data from published 2021 Government statistics. Wales was compared with England and English regions for area deprivation, local authority spending, placements at home and kinship foster care. Descriptive statistics were produced, and linear regression was used where appropriate. Findings Wales has higher overall children looked-after rates and a bigger recent increase in these than any English region. Deprivation in Wales was higher than in most English regions. However, a smaller percentage of Welsh variation in local authority looked-after rates was explained by deprivation than was the case for England. Spending on preventative services has increased in recent years in Wales whilst decreasing in England, and there was not a clear relationship between spending on preventative services and the looked-after rate. Wales had a higher rate of care orders placed at home and more children per head of population in kinship foster care than any English region. Some of the explanations that have been suggested for Wales’s particularly high looked-after rates seem to be supported by the evidence from aggregate data and others do not. Practice variation is likely to also be an important part of the picture. Originality/value This is an original comparison of Wales, England and English regions using aggregate data. More fine-grained analysis is needed using individual-level data, multivariate analysis and qualitative methods.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 1746-6660
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 July 2023
Date of Acceptance: 5 May 2023
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2023 09:38

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