Children’s Social Care Research

Ivison Trust has been supporting parents affected by child sexual exploitation for over 25 years. A consistent message we have heard from affected parents has been that the support they have received from Children’s Social Care services hasn’t met their families needs.

In 2019, Ivison Trust (formerly Pace), commissioned a piece of research to gain a deeper understanding about parents’ experiences of children’s social care services and what recommendations they would have to improve the outcomes for other families. Watch Dr Sarah Hall presenting the key findings of our research:

Parents called for a quicker response when a referral is made, and the development of positive relationships between Children’s Social Care services and the families they support.

Key findings:

  • Parents felt they were being blamed for the exploitation of their child
  • Parents felt alone in managing threats to their child and putting safety measures in place
  • Delays in Social Care service responses of up to two years, which exacerbated the harm caused by the abuse
  • Interventions focused on the child and parent, with little attention on disrupting the exploiter of the abuse

One parent who contributed to the research said:

“I was in total crisis, in this unknown world, fighting to keep my child safe. It’s hard to keep seeing clearly in this desperate situation and you’d hope that Children’s Social Care’s role would be to help and support you, but they don’t. They come in and blame and it’s absolutely devastating.”

Gill Gibbons, Chief Executive of Pace, said:

“We are all too aware of the impossible task facing Social Care as they cope with both the growing needs of families struggling with austerity and the massive cuts of recent years.

However, the safeguarding model used by Children’s Social Care services is fundamentally not fit for purpose. Pace welcomes the contextual safeguarding approach in unison with our Relational Safeguarding model which recognises the central role in safeguarding that the parents have.”

Social researcher Carlene Firmin MBE from the University of Bedfordshire, said:

“The most important lesson from the research is that social care interventions often undermined parent-child relationships rather than strengthening them, reinforcing the estrangement that grooming aims to achieve. Hearing from those directly affected by exploitation is one of the best ways to develop a response that is both needed and effective.

In building a report on, and around, the voices of parents whose children have been sexually exploited, Pace have made a critical contribution to informing how child protection systems evolve and respond to this issue in the future.”

Read the Report