Inequalities in child welfare intervention rates: the intersection of deprivation and identity

Paul Bywaters, Geraldine Brady, Tim Sparks, Elizabeth Bos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Child welfare systems internationally exhibit very large inequalities in a variety of dimensions of practice, for example, in rates of child protection plans or registrations and out-of-home care. Previous research in the midlands region of England (Bywaters; Bywaters et al.) has detailed key aspects of the relationship between levels of neighbourhood deprivation and intervention rates. This paper reports further evidence from the study examining the intersection of deprivation with aspects of identity: gender, disability, ethnicity and age. Key findings include a decreasing gender gap and a decreasing proportion of children in need reported to be disabled as deprivation increases. The data challenge the perception that black children are more likely than white to be in out-of-home care, a finding that only holds if the much higher level of deprivation among black children is not taken into account. Similarly, after controlling for deprivation and age, Asian children were found to be up to six times less likely to be in out-of-home care. The study requires replication and extension in order that observed inequalities are tested and explained. Urgent ethical, research, policy and practice issues are raised about child welfare systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-463
Number of pages12
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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