Researchers investigate best living arrangements for abused or neglected children

April 23, 2014 by Caron Lett

(Medical Xpress)—University of York researchers are launching a new multi-disciplinary project to examine what works best for abused or neglected children – going into care or staying at home with support.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will find out whether going into care can improve their wellbeing and life chances or whether it instead compounds the effects of children's previous experiences of abuse or neglect.

Running from April 2014 to March 2016, the study will use the Born in Bradford survey, an NHS initiative and one of the biggest and most important medical research studies undertaken in the UK. The survey has been tracking the lives of 13,500 babies and their families since 2007 and will provide valuable information on children's family circumstances before they entered care.

The study involves researchers from the University of York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work, Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU), Institute for Effective Education (IEE), Department of Health Sciences, the Hull York Medical School (HYMS) and the Department of Psychology, University of Leicester.

It aims to provide:

  • important new information about the strengths and weaknesses of the care system in compensating maltreated children for their early life disadvantages
  • evidence on the circumstances in which outcomes may be positive if children are supported at home or, alternatively, when admission to care is likely to be a better alternative
  • key messages for policymakers and practitioners concerning assessment and intervention with maltreated and looked after children.

Professor Nina Biehal, from York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work, is leading the project. She said: "Many people are concerned about poor outcomes for children in care, but research shows that for many children care actually improves their wellbeing.

"We do not yet know enough about whether abused and neglected children who go into care do better or worse when compared to similar children who are supported at home, rather than to all children in the wider population. We also need to understand more about how and when taking abused or neglected children into care might be the best way to help them and when it might be safe, and better, to support them at home in their families This study aims to find out."

The researchers will link information from the Born in Bradford survey to two other datasets which record children known to have experienced abuse or neglect, and children who are admitted to care in Bradford.

Professor Kate Pickett, from York's Department of Health Sciences, who is also on the Born in Bradford Executive Committee, said: "This new study is the latest example of how the Born in Bradford study provides a platform for important new research on the wellbeing of children that will benefit families in Bradford and beyond."

Using surveys, assessment tools and interviews, the researchers will gather information on 's general health and development, emotional, behavioural or attachment difficulties (if any), language development and early reading skills, their overall well-being and whether they have been re-abused. This will allow the research team to analyse the relative effects on their development and well-being of their family backgrounds, their experience of abuse and neglect and of being in care.

Explore further: Too little known on how primary care docs can prevent child abuse

More information: More information on the project 'Home or care? Pathways and outcomes for maltreated children in a multi-ethnic cohort' is available at php.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/summs/bib.php

Related Stories

Too little known on how primary care docs can prevent child abuse

June 10, 2013
(HealthDay)—A lack of research makes it impossible to recommend how primary care doctors can prevent abuse and neglect of children who show no signs or symptoms of maltreatment, according to a new U.S. Preventive Services ...

Understanding children's behaviour key to foster care support

October 15, 2013
Providing foster carers with accurate information about the behaviour of children in their care could reduce "placement drift" and encourage stronger family connections.

System fails foster children and parents

March 20, 2013
New research shows that early intervention and support for families is critical if foster children are to be reunited quickly and safely with their birth parents.

Primary care needs to 'wake-up' to links between domestic abuse and safeguarding children

March 6, 2014
Researchers looking at how healthcare professionals deal with domestic violence cases have identified that GPs, practice nurses and practice managers are uncertain about how to respond to the exposure of children to domestic ...

Report reveals adoption breakdown rate and the experiences of adoptive families in crisis

April 9, 2014
The most comprehensive study ever to be carried out into adoption in England has confirmed that the rate of breakdown is lower than anticipated, but it also reveals a stark picture of the problems faced by families.

Professionals risk failing to spot abuse if they rely on children talking about it

October 22, 2013
Professionals working with children risk failing to identify abuse and neglect if they rely on children talking to them about it, according to research led by the University of East Anglia.

Recommended for you

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

Scientists develop new supplement that can repair, rejuvenate muscles in older adults

July 18, 2017
Whey protein supplements aren't just for gym buffs according to new research from McMaster university. When taken on a regular basis, a combination of these and other ingredients in a ready-to-drink formula have been found ...

Study: Eating at 'wrong time' affects body weight, circadian rhythms

July 18, 2017
A new high-precision feeding system for lab mice reinforces the idea that the time of day food is eaten is more critical to weight loss than the amount of calories ingested.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LeonardH
not rated yet Apr 23, 2014
EXACTLY WHAT THE LAW says is supposed to be done (That has NEVER been done)-

42 U.S.C. § 671 (a)(15) (B) except as provided in subparagraph (D),
reasonable efforts shall be made to preserve and reunify families -

(i) prior to the placement of a child in foster care, to prevent or
eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home; and

(ii) to make it possible for a child to safely return to the child's home;

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.