Exploring drivers of demand for child protection services in an English local authority

Rick Hood, Sarah Gorin, Allie Goldacre, Wilson Muleya, Paul Bywaters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on an empirical study of child protection services in a local authority where rates of investigations and interventions rose to unprecedented levels during the course of a single year. The aim of the research was to explore explanations for this rise in demand among the providers of children's social care in the area. Using an interpretative qualitative design, a series of focus groups and interviews were carried out with practitioners and managers (n = 25) from statutory services and Early Help. The findings identified a combination of long-term and short-term drivers of demand. Long-term factors emphasized the impact of rising levels of deprivation combined with cuts to community-based services for children and young people. Short-term factors ranged from a more proactive approach to child neglect to more effective multi-agency partnerships and joint decision making. The interaction between these factors was found to be accentuating an underlying shift to “late intervention” across the sector. The findings are contextualized in relation to contemporary debates about the crisis of demand for children's social care and the complex relationship between prevention and protection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-664
Number of pages8
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number3
Early online date3 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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