Development of a Child Neglect Measurement Tool

Child neglect is complex and raises myriad issues for social work often resulting in poor identification and assessment. Neglect measures are viewed as inadequate by academics, practitioners and service users (Horwath, 2013; Moran, 2009; Daniel et al, 2011; Dubowitz et al, 2005).

This project will incorporate two primary phases. Phase one will conduct and publish a systematic literature review of all national and international secondary measures of child neglect, co-produced with Birmingham Children’s Trust. 

Phase two will incorporate a Delphi study. It will take the best aspects of the reviewed measures and combine knowledge from key stakeholders to develop the measurement tool. Focus groups with practitioners and service users will be undertaken to better understand what is needed in a new measurement tool. A series of surveys seeking consensus to develop the measurement tool will then be undertaken. Following these actions, the tool will be piloted in practice with Birmingham Children’s Trust. 

All work will be undertaken with Birmingham Children’s Trust and key stakeholders, including practitioners, experts and users of services. This is critical as this research is intended to be practice relevant, but also practice informed. Each of these groups offers different forms of knowledge and expertise.

Research objectives

The overarching aim of this project is to produce a short, accessible and simple neglect measurement tool that will support more focussed, evidence-based and informed assessments. This tool will allow account to be taken of social contexts and social harms. 

The systematic review will examine, understand and produce a synthesis of the evidence on national and international measures for current child neglect. It will consider the strengths and limitations of all child neglect measures used in children’s social work and highlight what can be learnt from these to inform practice. 

The Delphi study will gain a range of expert opinions to establish a valid and reliable child neglect measurement tool that can subsequently be piloted in practice with Birmingham Children’s Trust.

Research team