A population level study into health vulnerabilities of mothers and fathers involved in public law care proceedings in Wales, UK between 2011 and 2019

Johnson, Rhodri D and North, Laura and Alrouh, Bachar and John, Ann and Jones, Kerina and Akbari, Ashley and Smart, Jon and Thompson, Simon and Hargreaves, Claire and Doebler, Stefanie and Cusworth, Linda and Broadhurst, Karen and Ford, David and Griffiths, Lucy J. (2022) A population level study into health vulnerabilities of mothers and fathers involved in public law care proceedings in Wales, UK between 2011 and 2019. International Journal of Population Data Science, 7 (1).

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Introduction Under section 31 of the Children Act 1989, public law care proceedings can be issued if there is concern a child is subject to, or at risk of significant harm, which can lead to removal of a child from parents. Appropriate and effective health and social support are required to potentially prevent some of the need for these proceedings. More comprehensive evidence of the health needs and vulnerabilities of parents will enable enhanced response from family courts and integrated other services. Objective To examine health vulnerabilities of parents involved in care proceedings in the two-year period prior to involvement. Methods Family court data provided by Cafcass Cymru were linked to population-based health records held within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank. Linked data were available for 8,821 parents of children involved in care proceedings between 2011 and 2019. Findings were benchmarked with reference to a comparison group of parents matched on sex, age, and deprivation (n = 32,006), not subject to care proceedings. Demographic characteristics, overall health service use, and health profiles of parents were examined. Descriptive and statistical tests of independence were used. Results Nearly half of cohort parents (47.6%) resided in the most deprived quintile. They had higher levels of healthcare use compared to the comparison group across multiple healthcare settings, with the most pronounced differences for emergency department attendances (59.3% vs 37.0%). Health conditions with the largest variation between groups were related to mental health (43.6% vs 16.0%), substance use (19.4% vs 1.6%) and injuries (41.5% vs 23.6%). Conclusion This study highlights the heightened socioeconomic and health vulnerabilities of parents who experience care proceedings concerning a child. Better understanding of the needs and vulnerabilities of this population may provide opportunities to improve a range of support and preventative interventions that respond to crises in the community.

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Journal Article
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International Journal of Population Data Science
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14 Apr 2022 11:25
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 03:13