A factorial survey investigating the effect of disclosing parental intellectual disability on risk assessments by children’s social worker in child safeguarding scenarios

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Literature suggests that, as parents, people with intellectual disabilities experience disproportionately high rates of child removal compared to other groups. A factorial survey of 191 children’s social workers investigated the effect of disclosing parental intellectual disability upon risk assessments in a range of hypothetical child safeguarding scenarios. The case scenarios depicted a range of child-safeguarding situations and parents’ intellectual disability status was randomly included as an additional item of information. The data was fitted into a generalised ordinal logistic regression model. Findings indicate that when presented with scenarios considered to be less risky, the parental intellectual disability disclosure contributed significantly to a higher risk assessment score. However, when presented with scenarios that were considered more risky, the additional parental intellectual disability disclosure did not significantly contribute to a higher score. These findings indicate that the risk associated with parental intellectual disability is not fixed but relative to the situation in which it is encountered. The research concludes that in cases of low risk, the effect of parental intellectual disability is identified as a support need whereas the lesser contribution of the disclosure to assessments of higher risk cases may indicate that parental intellectual disability is overlooked.

Risk assessment; parental intellectual disability; factorial survey; children’s social workers, England


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date30 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jun 2019


  • Risk assessment, parental intellectual disability, factorial survey, children’s social workers, England