In a recent Sure Start evaluation report (Barnes et al. 2006) it was argued that an increase in Section 47 enquiries and registrations on the Child Protection Register in Sure Start Local Programme Areas was an achievement, reflecting better and/or earlier identification of need and enhanced collaboration between agencies to identify and support families. This paper critically engages with these conclusions, arguing that they are in danger of encouraging practices at a discursive and practical level that in many ways represent a retrograde step back to child protection policies that predominated in the pre-Messages from Research (Department of Health 1995) period. In this sense, it is argued that the evaluation report represents the potential re-authorization of Section 47 work through its endorsement of practices skewed towards investigative child protection. The paper concludes that if a broader range of agencies are drawn into child welfare's more forensic practices, this may exacerbate the social exclusion of poorer working class communities and women, ignoring the socio-economic determinants of child 'abuse'. © Critical Social Policy Ltd 2007.
- Children's services