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Keywords:

  • child protection;
  • child protection register;
  • outcomes;
  • performance measurement;
  • policy development

ABSTRACT

With the introduction of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland have been engaged in a refocusing of children's services, shifting resources and interventions towards supporting families at an earlier stage in order to reduce the likelihood of crisis, breakdown or abuse at a later stage. Alongside this development the Government wishes to see a clearer link between the objectives of the child protection system and the outcomes for children and their families. This paper critiques the current system of performance management in the child protection system. Using data from a study exploring the characteristics and careers of children in the children protection system in Northern Ireland it is argued that the current measurements of performance are too basic and are designed principally to monitor the operation of the system rather than the impact of services and interventions on the lives of children and their families.