Children living in Scotland’s poorest communities are 20 times more likely than those in the least deprived to enter the child protection system, research has found.
Poverty is the single biggest single factor behind wide inequalities in child safeguarding interventions, with one in 60 children taken into care in the UK’s poorest areas.
Researchers found “strong social gradients” in the rates of intervention across the four home nations, with each step increase in neighbourhood deprivation bringing a significant rise in the proportion of children either “looked after in care” (LAC) or on a child protection plan or register (CPP/CPR).
Academics from the universities of Stirling, Coventry, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Queen’s University Belfast were funded by the Nuffield Foundation to investigate data on over 35,000 children who are either LAC or on CPPs – over 10 per cent of all such cases open in March 2015, when the study began.
In Scotland ten local authorities took part – representing approximately 53 per cent of the child population (0-17yrs) – with a sample including over 1,500 children on the CPR and around 8,500 LAC.
Professor Brigid Daniel of the University of Stirling’s centre for child wellbeing, said: “Too many children in Scotland are living in poverty.
“It is to be hoped that the range of anti-poverty initiatives in Scotland, including the Child Poverty Bill, will eventually impact on levels of child welfare interventions.
“However, it is notable that the Child Poverty Strategy makes no mention of child protection or children being looked after away from home as linked with poverty.
“The First Minister has established a ‘root and branch’ review of the care system in Scotland: our research suggests that this review must focus on poverty as one of the key factors associated with children being accommodated away from home in the first place.”