Child protection re-referrals a product of high caseloads
After six years, 55 per cent of children who are referred to the children’s services in the UK return to the system at least once, it has been reported.
According to a study by the Department for Education (DfE), this means that the likelihood of children being re-referred to child protection services increases when social workers in their local authority have a high caseload.
The study, which looked at a sample of 90,209 children within 144 local authorities who were referred to children's services in 2010/11, found that across the local authorities, the probability of children being re-referred ranged from seven per cent to 63 per cent.
Individual characteristics also played a part in whether a child had an increased likelihood of referral. These characteristics included girls, young children, disabled children, children initially stepped down as needing no further action, and children referred initially for abuse or neglect, parental disability or illness, family in acute distress, family dysfunction, or socially unacceptable behaviour.
The DfE report read: "Regarding effects at the level of the local education authorities, it is observed that only the interaction between the number of children in need per social worker and the referral rates per 10,000 children can be safely judged as significant.
"This implies that the contextual effect of referral rates per local education authority is moderated by the children in need per social worker rate. The lower the number of children in need per social worker, the lower the effect of referral rates on re-referral propensity."
When it comes to the role of the local authority, it was revealed that there was a greater likelihood of re-referral in local authorities with more than ten children in need per social worker and where referral rates for children were above average.