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Risk Outside of the Home Child Protection Pathways: Phase 2 Pilots 

… I was really worried, I thought oh no, like we’ve got a social worker, that’s what I’m… you know, this is not what I wanted; what have I done wrong? … but then as I was introduced to all of this, it sort of came to my attention that actually people really trust me as a parent and they’re just looking at what’s going on for my boys outside and how they can help (Parent Participant, ROTH Pathway)  


Criminal and sexual exploitation, peer-instigated sexual abuse and street-based or weapon-enabled violence, can all pose a risk of significant harm to young people. When they do, they are, in theory, child protection issues. In practice, however, a traditional child protection response is likely to focus on changing the actions of parents as a source of protection instead of changing peer, school, and community contexts where extra-familial harm occurs. As a result, many social care departments have refused to use child protection processes in these situations. Yet without a child protection response, young people at risk of significant extra-familial harm can be left without statutory social work oversight. ‘Risk Outside of the Home’ (ROTH) pathways have been piloted to address this challenge. 

In this project we worked with three areas who wished to pilot a ROTH Child Protection Pathway, building on the learning and resources we produced from our first ROTH pilot in Wiltshire. We supported them to design their own ROTH pathways, and reviewed the documents they produced to detail the approach they were taking. 58 young people and families were supported via a ROTH Pathway across the three sites. We collected information from assessments and plans that were developed during the pilots, observed conferences that were held to coordinate support, and spoke to young people, parents/carers and professionals who participated in the pilots.  

We used the information that we collected to identify the key features of ROTH Pathways, the opportunities they present, and the challenges social care organisations faced in implementing them. In the process we also identified the local and national conditions that would best facilitate the ethical and effective use of ROTH pathways in the future. 

  • ROTH pathways share seven key features: their legislative basis; a principal or sole focus on extra-familial harm; the categories and definitions they employ; the approach and position of the people who chair ROTH conferences; the position of parents/carers; the supporting paperwork they require; and the use of ‘context weighting’ to agree where to focus assessment and intervention.
  • ROTH pathways present four opportunities to improve child protection responses to extra-familial harm. These can be understood as being structural, ethical, relational, and practical.  
  • ROTH pathways provide a structural opportunity in that they offer a ‘place’ within child protection systems to locate harm that is significant and extra-familial. Traditional child protection pathways offer the former but not the latter. 
  • ROTH pathways provide an ethical opportunity by creating conditions in which social workers can adopt a welfare-based approach to extra-familial harm, aligned with their ethical code and values. 
  • ROTH pathways provide a relational opportunity by facilitating improved relationships between parent/carers and professionals.   
  • ROTH pathways provide a practical opportunity for professionals to foreground the contextual drivers of harm and consequently open avenues for alternative practice responses. 
  • When these structural, relational, ethical, and practical opportunities combined, social workers developed responses to extra-familial harm that had not felt possible previously.   
  • The opportunities of ROTH Pathways are undermined by three challenges. ROTH pathways are not always understood by professionals involved. There is limited knowledge and resources to convert a contextual understanding of harm/need into contextually focused plans. Professionals struggle to create conditions in which young people can effectively and consistently engage in ROTH processes.  
  • There are seven questions that social care organisations, and wider safeguarding partnerships, can ask themselves when designing and testing a ROTH pathway. 
  • There are four ways in which decision-makers can facilitate the effective development of ROTH pathways, including revising statutory guidance and investing in contextual welfare interventions. 
  • There are six ways that local leaders can create the conditions to sustain ROTH pathways including, involving young people and parents in their development, and establishing agreements between social care and community safety to prioritise child-welfare in responses to extra-familial harm. 
Report: Risk Outside of the Home Child Protection Pathways: Phase 2 Pilots

This report shares learning from three areas who piloted a ‘Risk Outside of the Home’ (ROTH) Child Protection Pathway for young people at risk of significant extra-familial harm. 58 young people and families were supported during the pilot period. The report uses information from assessments, plans, observations of ROTH conferences, documents produced during the pilots, and interviews with young people, parents and professionals who participated, to identify the key features of ROTH Pathways, the opportunities they provide and challenges they present. ROTH Pathways: 

  • Shared seven key features. 
  • Create four opportunities for improving safeguarding responses to extra-familial harm: they are: 1. ‘structural’, 2. ‘ethical’, 3. ‘relational’, and 4. ‘practical’. 
  • Encountered three challenges that warrant attention for these opportunities to be realised. 

Risk Outside of the Home Child Protection Pathways: Phase 2 Pilots 

February 2024

Carlene Firmin