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Outcomes for high-risk young people referred to secure children’s homes for welfare reasons: a population record linkage study in England

Wood, Sophie ORCID:, Williams, Anne ORCID:, Warner, Antonia ORCID:, Hodges, Helen, Cummings, Aimee ORCID: and Forrester, Donald ORCID: 2024. Outcomes for high-risk young people referred to secure children’s homes for welfare reasons: a population record linkage study in England. Journal of Children's Services 19 (2) , pp. 105-122. 10.1108/JCS-04-2023-0018

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Purpose Secure children’s homes (SCHs) restrict the liberty of young people considered to be a danger to themselves or others. However, not all young people referred to SCHs find a placement, and little is known about the outcomes of the young person after an SCH or alternative placement. The purpose of this paper is to understand which characteristics most likely predict allocation to an SCH placement, and to explore the outcomes of the young people in the year after referral. Design/methodology/approach A retrospective electronic cohort study was conducted using linked social care data sets in England. The study population was all young people from England referred to SCHs for welfare reasons between 1st October 2016 to 31st March 2018 (n = 527). Logistic regression tested for differences in characteristics of SCH placement allocation and outcomes in the year after referral. Findings In total, 60% of young people referred to an SCH were allocated a place. Factors predicting successful or unsuccessful SCH allocation were previous placement in an SCH (OR = 2.12, p = 0.01); being female (OR = 2.26, p = 0.001); older age (OR = 0.75, p = 0.001); and a history of challenging behaviour (OR = 0.34, p = 0.01). In the year after referral, there were little differences in outcomes between young people placed in a SCH versus alternative accommodation. Originality/value The study raised concerns about the capacity of current services to recognise and meet the needs of this complex and vulnerable group of young people and highlights the necessity to explore and evaluate alternatives to SCHs. Keywords

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: Emerald
ISSN: 2042-8677
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 May 2024
Date of Acceptance: 3 April 2024
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2024 17:59

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