Dates: October 2019
Research Teams: Prof Judith Masson, Prof Jonathan Dickens, Dr Ludivine Garside, Kay Bader and Julie Young
Child protection in Court: Outcomes for Children reports the findings of an ESRC-funded study of the outcomes of care proceedings for children before and after care proceedings reforms. It examined the impact of major reforms to care proceedings introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Public Law Outline (PLO) 2014. These aimed to speed up decision-making in care proceedings by imposing a 26 week time limit and restricting the commissioning of expert evidence and the scrutiny of care plans.
The study examined the impact of these reforms on the legal process and outcomes for children involved in them. Using a mixed methods design, it compared the process and the outcomes for two samples of children subject to care proceedings: S1 had proceedings in 2009-10, before the reforms, and S2, after, in 2014-15.
The findings on children’s well-being were generally positive after one year; at 5 years the majority of the sample children in local authority care had maintained or improved well-being; wellbeing scores were less positive for children in parental care, and a quarter of them had entered care. The report contains policy and practice recommendation for courts, local authorities and social workers, and for improving data to capture interactions between care proceedings and children’s social care.