Edinburgh Research Explorer

Child Protection and Disability: Implications for Practice

Project: Research

StatusFinished
Effective start/end date21/03/1314/10/13
Total award£17,999.00
Funding organisationUK central government bodies/local authorities, health and hospital authorities
Period21/03/1314/10/13

Description

This project was commissioned by the Scottish Government Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Division to investigate the relationship between disabled children and child protection practice. Through interviews and focus groups the researchers spoke with 61 professionals working on issues of disabled children and child protection in Scotland. Disabled children are more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers, but there is evidence to suggest that the abuse of disabled children sometimes goes undetected. Getting it right for every child does not mean treating every child the same. There is a lack of confidence in working with disabled children, a lack of relevant training and variability in thresholds for action. Whilst there are positive aspects, this research shows that the child protection system is a cause for concern in relation to disabled children.

Layman's description

A Study designed to understand the key issues in public service practice for identifying and supporting disabled children and young people at risk of significant harm

Key findings

There is whole-hearted commitment across the child protection system for putting the child at the centre. However, getting it right for every child does not mean treating every child the same. Consideration needs to be given to how best to adapt practice, assessment and intervention for children with a range of impairments. A lack of confidence suggests that practitioners are often ‘muddling through’ when it comes to working with disabled children. Child protection workers require more training regarding disability, and children’s disability teams need more training about child protection. Interagency working was regarded positively and was seen as an enabler to good practice. However, thresholds for action in the child protection system are higher for disabled children than for non-disabled children. More needs to be done to ensure their voices are heard and included within formal systems. Whilst there are positive aspects, this research shows that the child protection system is a cause for concern in relation to disabled children.