Main Article Content
Contact with child protection systems are a key site of the expression of social inequalities. ‘Child welfare inequalities’ by deprivation have been documented in a number of countries including the United Kingdom. The size and nature of this relationship is sparse in the New Zealand system context.
Objectives and Approach
The integration of data routinely collected by NZ’s Ministry for Children into Statistics NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) provided the opportunity to examine how child protection data relates to deprivation and location. Anonymised person-level data in the IDI was used to obtain a population-based retrospective sample of children estimated to be resident in NZ in 2013/2014 and less than 17 years of age. Using pre-linked data in the IDI, all children with at least one of three child protection outcomes in 2013/2014 were ascertained.
Deprivation was assessed using a small-area level national index derived from census data. The most recent residential address recorded in the IDI was used to assign deprivation deciles to each child based on the small area in which they lived.
Of 1,016,928 children, 13,851 had had at least one substantiation of interest, the least serious of the outcomes considered. Compared to children living in the least deprived quintile of small areas, children in the most deprived quintile had 13.1 times (95%CI for Incidence Rate Ratio 12.0, 14.4) the rate of substantiation, 18.0 times (95%CI 15.4, 20.8) the rate of a family group conference, and 6.5 times (95%CI 5.6, 7.6) their rate of placement in foster care.
Conclusion / Implications
A marked relationship was observed between small-area deprivation and child protection contact. Action is needed to address the causes of deprivation, provide services that respond to families living in poverty, and examine carefully the interactions between demand and supply of services across deprivation levels.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.