Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
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Loughborough University

Centre for Child and Family Research

News and events

8-year-olds identified in infancy as at risk of harm
8 July 2016

The Centre for Child and Family Research has been running a longitudinal study based on the decisions made by practitioners to protect and promote the welfare of infants suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm which are extremely difficult and will have long-term consequences for their life chances. It is therefore important to know how such decisions are made, and whether they can be improved. This prospective study explores the decision-making process that influences the life pathways and developmental progress of a sample of very young children who were identified as suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm before their first birthdays and were then followed until they were three. The overall objective is to collect evidence which supports decisions concerning which children require permanent out of home placements (such as adoption) and which can safely remain with birth parents.

Findings have had a major impact on policy development. So far they have underpinned the development of policy on: safeguarding children and adoption; the work of the Social Work Task Force; the Munro Review of Child Protection; the Family Justice Review, and the deliberations of the DFE select committee on child protection (written and oral evidence). The study has also been covered by the BBC 1 Panorama programme

Professor Harriet Ward and Rebecca Brown continue their longitudinal research with this cohort of children and are currently tracing their experiences and progress through middle childhood incorporating the views of the children themselves and the people closest to them, including their parents, carers, teachers and social workers. 

This study follows up a small sample of 8-year-old children for whom there had been concerns of abuse or neglect before their first birthdays.
The report provides insight into the lives of these children and their families, including:
•how decisions made by professionals in the children’s early years have continued to affect their lives
•the role of social workers, primary school teachers and special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs)
•the children’s own experiences and perceptions
The study can be accessed here: 8-year-olds identified in infancy as at risk of harm. For further information on the Babies study, click here: Infants Suffering, or likely to Suffer, Significant Harm: A prospective longitudinal study.



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