Webinar 14th December 2022, 13:00-14:00

Presenter: Dr Sara Long, DECIPHer Centre, Cardiff University

New evidence on the education and health outcomes of children with social workers: What does it mean for policy and practice?

At Cardiff and Swansea University we researched over 30,000 children in Wales to understand what happens over time to children who have help from social services. We looked at how the children did in school aged 16 and emergency hospital admission. We compared four groups of children: (1) children looked after by local authorities; (2) children on the child protection register; (3) children who were living with their families and receiving support from social services but were not at risk and (4) all the rest of the children in Wales.

We found that the three groups of children who had help from social services were more likely to have emergency treatment in hospital, and less likely to get good GCSE results, compared to children who didn’t have any help from social services. This was partly explained by difficulties earlier in their childhood, for example family problems, disability and poverty, but even after taking these into account, the children who had help from social services were at greater risk, in terms of their health and education.

When we compare the different groups of children who have help from social services, those in local authority care on average got higher GCSE grades and were less likely to have emergency hospital treatment than the other groups. The children on the child protection register were over four times less likely than the children with no social services involvement to get five GCSEs at A* to C. The children who were in need, but not at risk, were, on average, two and a half times less likely to get these grades. Based on this, it is quite clear that those children who get help from social services while living with their families need more support, or different kinds of support.

The ExChange seminar will briefly present the research findings and the study team would be keen to hear the views of professionals and others on what improvements are needed to help children who have help from social services stay healthy and achieve their potential at school.