Child of the North - building a fairer future after COVID-19

December 7, 2021

A major new report out today paints a stark picture of inequality for children growing up in the North of England post-pandemic compared to those in the rest of the country.

The considerable costs to society and the UK’s economy of rising inequality are outlined in The Child of the North: Building a fairer future after COVID-19 report, produced by the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and N8 Research Partnership (N8), and written by over 40 leading academics from across the North of England.

The report includes a chapter on children in care in the North, written by Professor Karen Broadhurst, Jayne Erlam, Steffi Doebler and Bachar Alrouh (all from the CFJ) with Philippa Bird and Emmerline Irving.

  • Children in the North are significantly more likely to be in care than those in the rest of England. Of the local authorities with more than 100 children per 10,000 in care, 21 of 26 are in the North.
  • There are higher rates of domestic abuse-related offences recorded by police in the North (Yorkshire and Humber, North West, and North East regions) than elsewhere in the country.
  • Children in the poorest areas of England are disproportionately at risk of entering care, with poverty implicated in parental mental health problems and addition, couple conflict and other causes of childhood adversity and trauma associated with the involvement in Children’s Services and care.
  • Children’s home places are unevenly distributed in England, with the North West providing residential places for 1 in every 5 of the most vulnerable children in our care system.
  • Completely new evidence of a steep rise in children detained by the police under s.136 of the Mental Health Act, since the start of social distancing constraints in March 2020, warrants urgent attention. Children in care are over-represented in this population of children experiencing acute mental distress.

The chapter concludes that there is an urgent need to address the greater risk for children in the North of becoming involved with statutory Children’s Services, the care system and acute mental health services, calling for policies to reduce child poverty; increased funding for preventative services (health visiting, children’s centres, family hubs, and early help); investment in mental health provision and services that tackle domestic abuse.

The full report is available here.

For further information, please contact Professor Karen Broadhurst (