Te Pūnaha Matatini investigators Mike Plank, Alex James, Jeanette McLeod, and postdoc research fellow Daniel Lond, are using social network analysis to assess risk in vulnerable children in New Zealand.

Collaborating with our stakeholders in the government sector

Working with an extensive data set, the team is exploring how the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) can improve their measures of the risk of harm to vulnerable children, for use by front-line practitioners. Directly funded by MSD, the researchers aim to develop tools that can be used to protect at-risk children and improve their lives.

The project uses relationship data pertaining to children who have had contact with Child, Youth and Family (CYF) from 2005 to 2016, and includes all relationships observed by CYF staff in their work with that child and their family. CYF has since been succeeded by the Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki (MCOT).

Using network science to develop tools that can improve outcomes  

Networks are constructed to map the relationships between different individuals within the database. By examining these networks we are identifying key relationship risk factors that lead to children being of high estimated concern.

Preliminary results suggest that this approach can provide insight to help social worker decision making. The tool can be used by CYF staff, in addition to their existing experience and protocols, to assist in making real-time assessments regarding in-depth investigation or intervention.

Please contact us today if you would like to find out more about this project.