Ten words most likely to progress a children’s social care referral

Research identifies key words linked with further action, no action being taken and a referral ultimately becoming a serious case

Dictionary definition of poverty
Photo: TungCheung/Fotolia

Referrals to children’s social care where social workers spot risks posed by betting, genital mutilation and poverty are more likely to progress to further action than others, research suggests.

A report commissioned by the Department for Education, and published last week, analysed the factors that may influence social worker decision making. It identified links between when a referral was received, and whether it came via phone or email and the outcome.

Researchers also analysed the contents of the free text boxes in one local authority’s case management system – where social workers write the detail of the assessment and reasoning for decisions made – to identify key words and how they linked to actions. They found some of the results ‘intuitive’, others less so and suggested there was scope for further research in this area as data systems improve.

Top ten words linked to progressing to further action

  1. Betting (60.2% more likely to proceed)
  2. Genital mutilation (51.1%)
  3. Poverty (37.3%)
  4. Mania (33.3%)
  5. Out of work (32.5%)
  6. Evict (32.2%)
  7. Depressive (31.3%)
  8. Harassing (31.2%)
  9. Locked up (30.6%)
  10. Alcohol abuse (25.5%)

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Top ten words linked to not progressing to further action

  1. Structured Decision Making** (154.4% more likely not to proceed)
  2. Unemployment (107.1%)
  3. Non-compliance (76.8%)
  4. At ease (72.2%)
  5. Isolation (34.7%)
  6. Harass (34.6%)
  7. Evicted (34.2%)
  8. Smacking (32.3%)
  9. Bipolar (26.4%)
  10. Network (13%)

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Top ten words linked to a referral becoming a serious case

  1. Structured Decision Making (90.3% more likely to become serious)
  2. Trusted (39.1%)
  3. Argued (14.1%)
  4. Screaming (11.7%)
  5. Alcohol abuse (9.5%)
  6. Lump (7.8%)
  7. Section section (7.5%)
  8. Court order (6.6%)
  9. Neglect (5.1%)
  10. Conference (4.4%)

**a highly structured tool used to assess the strengths and needs of a particular child.

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