Born into care: Evidence of a failed state

Andy Bilson, Paul Bywaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper shows that the number of children who entered state care in England before they are a week old was 44% higher than shown by previous research if children ‘voluntarily’ placed in care are included. A series of freedom of information requests show the rapid increase between 2007 and 2017. The difference in rates between local authorities is also rapidly increasing and bigger increases are associated with both levels of deprivation and local authorities whose performance was graded inadequate or needing improvement by the Office for Standards in Education. In 25 local authorities an average of one child in every 100 live births is separated from its parents in the first week in life, with very few ever being reunited. The growth in numbers and proportions of children entering care in the first week of life is a key driver of adoption rates. But far from acting as a form of prevention, with lower proportions of older children entering care, where local authorities undertake very early removal from parents the opposite is true. This points to a possible spiral of failure as a high proportion of parents who have been in care risk losing their children at birth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105164
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Early online date12 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


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