This research is the first attempt to build a robust evidence base on ethnic and religious minority child welfare in Wales and among the first in the UK to study health and education outcomes for children who receive social services by ethnicity and religion, using linked administrative data.


Using linked administrative data in social care, education and health, this study will for the first time, produce much needed quantitative evidence on the little-known experience of ethnic and religious minority children/families receiving social services support. To date, there is limited research in the UK examining the educational outcomes and health service use of ethnic and religious minority children receiving social care support, particularly on the wider population of Children in Need or Children Receiving Care and Support. Our study will shed important light on future policy and practice in child welfare, not just in Wales and the UK but also internationally.

Activities and Methods

We aim to answer the following research questions using the comprehensive collection of administrative data deposited in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank:

  1. What are the patterns and rates of ethnic/religious minority children receiving care and support in Wales, compared with their peers in the majority populations?
  2. Does the trend of increasing rates of children looked after over time reflect the growth in ethnic and religious minority populations in Wales during the same period? Is the rate of children looked after increasing at a faster rate among certain ethnic/religious minority communities compared to population growth?
  3. Evidence has shown that area-level social deprivation explains around half the local variation in rates of children looked after. To what extent does this pattern hold true for ethnic and religious minority children?
  4. How does the educational attainment of ethnic/religious minority children receiving care and support compare with those of their white counterparts, and children in the general population who have not received child welfare provision?
  5. Does the pattern of health service use of ethnic/religious minority children receiving care and support differ from that of their white peers, and children in the general population who have not received child welfare provision?


Findings from early analysis are summarised here. Further results will be added as they become available.

  1. The trend in the level of ethnic disproportionality does not simply mirror the trend in the absolute numbers of children in child welfare system by ethnicity.
  2. Amongst children in need and children receiving care and support, mixed heritage children were the most overrepresented and Asian children were the most underrepresented consistently over the recent ten years, despite some fluctuations in the level.
  3. Instead of a clear growing or declining trend over the past decade, the overall level of ethnic disproportionality in Wales shows increases amongst children in need 2011-2016 and then decreases amongst children receiving care and support 2017-2020.

The overall level and trend of ethnic disproportionality is not uniform across gender and age groups. The trend in the overall level of representation for each ethnic group conceals substantial variation among the constituting sub-groups by sociodemographic characteristics.


We work closely with our collaborative partner Ethnic Minorities Youth Support Team (EYST) in setting up a service-user panel made up of ethnic and religious minority families with experience with social services to inform our research design and to ensure our findings benefit the user community.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorSin Yi Cheung

Academics and Researchers

Academic staffJonathan Scourfield
Academic staffLucy Jane Griffiths
Academic staffYongchao Jing
Academic staffGrace Bailey
Academic staffElaine Speyer
Related SchoolsSchool of Social Sciences
Related partnersEthnic Minorities & Youth Support Team
FundersHealth and Care Research Wales
Related publicationsJing, Y. S.Y. Cheung, L. Griffiths, and J. Scourfield (2023) Trends in ethnic inequality in child welfare interventions in Wales, 2010–2021 International Journal of Population Data Science, 8 (2)
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