Policies and responses with regard to child abuse and neglect in England, Germany and the Netherlands: a comparative multi-site study

Researchers: Nina Biehal, Helen Baldwin (SPSW)
Hans Grietens, Monica Lopez, Erik Knorth and Helen Bouma (University of Groningen, The Netherlands)
Heinz Kindler, Eric van Santen and Susanne Witte (German Youth Institute, Germany)
Funder: NORFACE: Welfare States Futures
Duration: January 2015 to December 2017


The aim of the study is to compare approaches to child protection in England, Germany and the Netherlands and their impact on children and families. It will:

  • compare child protection policy, systems and practice in each country
  • investigate the impact of child protection practice on a sample of children in each country
  • compare the ways child protection measures are negotiated by professionals and perceived by parents
  • compare wider assumptions about the role of the state in family life and the ways different welfare states seek to balance children’s rights to protection with parents’ rights.


The study has three phases: 

  • a comparative analysis of child protection policy and systems in the three countries
  • an investigation of  child protection practice, through an analysis of the cases files of up to 400 children in each country who have been referred to local authorities due to concerns about abuse or neglect
  • an exploration of parent perspectives on their contact with child protection services, through telephone  interviews  with up to 200 parents in each country.

Policy and practice aims

The overall aim of the study will be to contribute to policy and practice development in Europe by sharing learning about the strengths and limitations of different approaches to child protection. 

Please contact nina.biehal@york.ac.uk for more information

Associated Research   

Home or care? Pathways and outcomes for children in a multi-ethnic cohort 

Disentangling the effects of being in care from the impact of the difficult experiences that led to admission into care, using secondary analysis of two unique datasets.


Outcomes for children placed for reasons of abuse or neglect:

the consequences of staying in care or returning home.