Home or care? : A comparison of educational outcomes for maltreated children

Cusworth, Linda and Tracey, Louise and Baldwin, Helen and Biehal, Nina (2021) Home or care? : A comparison of educational outcomes for maltreated children. British Journal of Social Work, 51 (8). pp. 3055-3076. ISSN 0045-3102

[thumbnail of BJSW-20-040.R2_Proof_hi]
Text (BJSW-20-040.R2_Proof_hi)
BJSW_20_040.R2_Proof_hi.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (412kB)


Previous research has highlighted the poor educational attainment of children in out-of-home care, until relatively recently seen as a potential failure of the care system itself. However, the relationship between care and education outcomes is complex. It is important to disentangle the impact of the care system from that of adverse circumstances leading to admission to care. In this study, educational outcomes for 68 children (aged 3–9 years) in foster-care due to concerns about abuse or neglect were compared to those for 166 children with current or past child welfare involvement living at home. Data from teacher assessments of communication and literacy, and a standardized measure of receptive vocabulary were analysed. Accounting for key differences between the two groups, there was little evidence that educational attainment of children in care was significantly worse than that of children living at home. The findings suggest that being in care is unlikely to be the direct cause of poor educational achievement amongst children in care relative to the wider population of children. The study has implications for the ways in which schools and other services, both across the UK and internationally, work with children in and on the margins of care.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal of Social Work
Additional Information:
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Linda Cusworth, Louise Tracey, Helen Baldwin, Nina Biehal, Home or Care? A Comparison of Educational Outcomes for Maltreated Children, The British Journal of Social Work, 51, 8 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/bjsw/article/51/8/3055/5919866
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? child abuse and neglectchild outcomescommunicationeducational attainmentout-of-home carehealth(social science)social sciences (miscellaneous) ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
26 Oct 2020 10:00
Last Modified:
12 Feb 2024 00:38