COVID-19 Guidance from WillisPalmer

Whilst the outbreak of Covid-19 is likely to cause some disruption to WillisPalmer services in the short-term, we are issuing guidance outlining our plans to minimise the impact of the virus.

Read more
Make an Enquiry

Good data on childhood adversity lacking

Current estimates of the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences are imprecise and good data on the prevalence of childhood adversity and wider risk factors is lacking, according to a report.

The Early Intervention Foundation’s report on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) found that although childhood adversities and vulnerabilities are prevalent, it is not clear how prevalent. For example, people are not always able to accurately recall whether they have experienced adversities, such as abuse, in childhood.

“Good data on the prevalence of childhood adversity and wider risk factors is lacking,” said the report. “More accurate estimates are essential for understanding the scale of childhood adversity, in order to plan services and to ensure that effective interventions are available for the children and families who most need them.”

More than 80% of the 399,500 children who were identified as being in need in England last year had experienced at least one ACE. This means that at least 2.5% of all children living in England are experiencing some form of maltreatment or family dysfunction at any given point in time. This figure reflects only the tip of the iceberg as the majority of child maltreatment cases go unreported.

The 10 original ACEs are:

• physical abuse
• sexual abuse
• psychological abuse
• physical neglect
• psychological neglect
• witnessing domestic abuse
• having a close family member who misused drugs or alcohol
• having a close family member with mental health problems
• having a close family member who served time in prison
• parental separation or divorce on account of relationship breakdown.

However, a focus on the original 10 ACEs to the exclusion of other factors risks missing people who also need help, said the report. Many other negative circumstances in childhood are also associated with poor adult outcomes including economic disadvantage, discrimination, peer victimisation, low birth weight and child disability. Studies show that low family income may be a stronger predictor of poor physical health outcomes than many of the original ACE categories.

While ACEs occur across society, they are far more prevalent among those who are poor, isolated or living in deprived circumstances. These social inequalities not only increase the likelihood of ACEs, but also amplify their negative impact. This means that structural inequalities must be addressed for ACE-related policies, services and interventions to have any meaningful effect, the report said.

The evidence raises serious concerns about the ethics of some ACE screening practices. As screening including routine enquiry is increasingly being used to identify children with symptoms of trauma, as a result of current or recent adversity.

However, there have been few evaluations which have rigorously considered whether ACE screening is an effective method for identifying vulnerable children and making treatment decisions.

It is unclear whether ACE screening activities could inadvertently re-traumatise children or cause other forms of harm and serious concerns have been raised about whether some ACE screening practices are ethical in the absence of referral to effective treatments. Screening tools are unlikely to be any kind of substitute for empathetic conversations by skilled and supervised practitioners, the report adds.

Trauma-informed care has the potential to improve the quality of practice, yet what constitutes trauma-informed care is not well defined and current practice and varies across different settings.

The EIF states that national and local policies have a critical role to play in addressing wider social and economic conditions that can increase the likelihood of children being exposed to early adversity, including a focus on factors such as poverty.

An appropriate response to preventing childhood adversity requires a system-wide focus on the negative impact of childhood adversity, with workforce practice, services, commissioning and leadership all aligned in a commitment to identifying and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable families. This should include:

• Effective leadership, which ensures that services are well configured and connected to meet the needs of the local population.

• Strong professional workforces, who are equipped to meet the needs of children and families struggling with adversity.

• Strong services, which includes the use of interventions with good evidence of improving outcomes for children.

The EIF has identified 33 interventions representing 10 intervention models with robust evidence of preventing ACEs, reducing the health-harming behaviours associated with ACEs, or reducing ACE-related trauma.

Finally, the report calls for significant investment to be placed into research on childhood adversity. This would include addressing the evidence gaps identified in this report and the rigorous evaluation of a comprehensive public health response to tackling adversity, the report concludes.

Adverse childhood experiences
What we know, what we don’t know, and what should happen next

Make an ENquiry

A multi-disciplinary organisation providing independent, high quality social work and psychological services. Contact us with your requirements and speak to a member of our team who will help you today.
Make an Enquiry

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Social workers: Protecting your mental health

It has long been recognised that social work is one stressful occupation.

Research by Bath Spa University described social workers’ working conditions “extremely poor” across the UK, irrespective of job role.

The demands that individuals had on their time was consistently found to be related to increased levels of stress, intentions to leave the job, [...]

Read Full Story

Calls to domestic abuse helpline rise by 25%

Calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline have increased by an average of 25% since the lockdown measures have been introduced to help combat the spread of COVID-19, the charity Refuge has revealed.

Isolation has potential to aggravate pre-existing behaviours in abusive partners and Refuge has warned of a surge in contacts from people experiencing domestic [...]

Read Full Story

8,000 former social workers registered to help during COVID-19

Social Work England has temporarily reinstated the registration of 8,000 former social workers in a bid to help social work departments continue running amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regulator of the social work profession has written to suitably qualified social workers who left the profession in the last two years to advise them that they can [...]

Read Full Story
1 2 3 411
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram