Safeguarding children in the UK: a longitudinal study of services to children suffering or likely to suffer significant harm

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This paper presents findings from a prospective longitudinal study which set out to track the progress of 105 children and young people newly identified as having suffered, or being likely to suffer, significant harm through maltreatment or neglect. Baseline data were collected on these children in four English social services departments. Descriptive data on the services and child outcome data were analysed on all the children between 12 and 18 months later, and on 77 of the young people 8–9 years after concerns were first identified. Forty per cent of the children stayed at home with a parent throughout, while the majority of children experienced either some or considerable disruption to their lives. Fifty-seven per cent experienced further maltreatment or neglect. Some children appear to have made good progress in spite of repeated moves, disruption and re-abuse. The paper examines the pattern of services to children and parents. Factors are explored which appeared to either help or hinder the children's capacity to deal with the stresses and adversities faced over the 8 years. Implications for policy and practice are explored which may be more likely to promote positive outcomes for these high-risk children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-377
Number of pages13
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Child maltreatment
  • Kinship care
  • Outcomes of protective services
  • Safeguarding

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