Wales Foster Care Allowances Survey 2019-20

Survey 2019-20

All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance from their fostering service when they have a child in placement, which is designed to cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. This includes food, clothes, toiletries, travel and all other expenses incurred and varies depending on the age of the child. Some foster carers also get a fee for their time, skills and experience. This report focuses purely on the allowances given to the foster carer to cover the costs of looking after a fostered child. The Welsh Government publishes national minimum allowances (NMAs) for foster carers in Wales, with the expectation that all fostering services meet these amounts. For the many years we have conducted a survey of the fostering allowances given by local authorities, we know that not all local authorities meet the minimums however, this year we are delighted that all local authorities in Wales are providing their foster carers with the national minimum allowance or above. In the summer of 2019, The Fostering Network conducted a survey of all 22 local authorities1 in Wales using freedom of information (FOI) requests. This was done to monitor whether local authorities are meeting the NMAs set by the Welsh Government.

 The wording of the FOI requests was as follows:

1) Please could you tell me your 2019-20 weekly foster care allowances for all age bands, NOT including any fee/reward element for foster carers? 2) Please could you tell me your 2019-20 weekly allowances to former foster carers looking after young people in When I am Ready 18+ arrangements, broken down by year 1, year 2, and year 3+ if necessary?


Read the full report and find out more here

The allowances reports for England and Scotland are publicly available here: 

“I wish someone would explain why I am in care”: The impact of children and young people's lack of understanding of why they are in out-of-home care on their well-being and felt security

Authors: Jo Staines and Julie Selwyn

Having a good understanding of one's origins and history is known to be significant in identity development. Drawing on a large-scale online survey of looked after children's subjective well-being, this paper demonstrates that a significant number of children and young people (age 4–18 years) did not fully understand the reasons for their entry to care. The paper explores the effect of this lack of knowledge on children's well-being and on their feelings of being settled in their current placement. The study reiterates the need for professionals to be honest and open with children in out-of-home care and the need to specifically address, perhaps repeatedly, why a child is not living with their birth family.


We have been fortunate in gaining new funding for research in the Centre over the last year. As well as supporting our ongoing study on fathers in recurrent care proceedings, the Nuffield Foundation has granted an award to Gillian Schofield, Birgit Larsson and their team to investigate the implementation of the first Regulations and Guidance in England (2015) on long-term foster care as a permanence option. Gillian was a member of the expert working group that developed this documentation, and research from the CRCF was key in the underpinning knowledge base. We are also very pleased that Norfolk Constabulary are funding Jane Dodsworth and Penny Sorensen to study the increasing problem of child criminal exploitation and in particular ‘County Lines’. Our third new study is an evaluation of the activities of the Suffolk and Norfolk Social Work Teaching Partnership, now in its third year.

In and beyond the care setting: relationships between young people and care workers

Authors: Vicki Welch, Nadine Fowler, Ewan Ross, Richard Withington, Kenny McGhee. 2018.

This review seeks to identify and summarise findings from literature about the nature of relationships that develop between older children and young people, and those caring for them within and beyond residential and fostering settings. We make particular efforts to include studies that gather the views of young people themselves. We consider the issues and challenges that young people face in moving on from care, the type of support they receive during this process, and focus on the relational elements of this support. The study as a whole focuses on young people in adolescence as they approach the point where they will leave care and undertake the transition towards more independent living.

Independent Evaluation of Fosterline England Final Report

Author:  Dr. Carolyn Blackburn, Centre for Research in Education, Faculty of  Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University 

Fosterline provides confidential, impartial, advice, information and signposting on the broad range of issues of concern to foster carers and those interested in fostering, in order to support them in their role, aid retention and encourage recruitment of foster carers. The number of children and young people in care is rising faster than the number of foster carers. This independent evaluation of Fosterline services aimed to identify the contribution that Fosterline makes to the important government function of recruiting and retaining foster carers in England. 

Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway: Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways

Author: A Way Home Scotland.


In May 2019, the A Way Home Scotland Coalition were tasked with creating a Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway for care leavers by the Scottish Government’s Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Group (HARSAG), with the aim of addressing the fact that care leavers face a substantially higher risk than their peers of becoming homeless in adult life.

The new Youth Homelessness Prevention Pathway ‘Improving Care Leavers Housing Pathways’, sets out achievable, evidence-based steps to prevent care leavers from being affected by homelessness at any point after leaving care. It has been developed by the Coalition’s multi-agency working group and youth steering group ‘Aff the Streets’, in partnership with Celcis, and is informed by their combined knowledge of the challenges facing care leavers.

‘This is our story’: Children and young people on criminalisation in residential care

Author: Howard League for Penal Reform

This briefing tells the anonymised stories of four children and young people who have been criminalised in residential care in their own words.

The briefing focuses on how it feels to a child to be criminalised and to live in a home where you are not loved or cared about.

The young people’s testimonies illustrate how every aspect of the care system can impact on criminalisation and demonstrate that a whole system approach is needed to protect vulnerable children from this form of harm.

​Mapping the evidence about what works to safely reduce the entry of children and young people into statutory care: a systematic scoping review protocol a catchy title...

Author: Sarah L BrandFiona Morgan, Lorna Stabler, Alison Lesley, Weightman, Simone Willis, Lydia Searchfield, Ulugbek Nurmatov, Alison Mary Kemp, Ruth Turley, Jonathan Scourfield, Donald Forrester, Rhiannon E Evans

The increasing number of children and young people entering statutory care in the UK is a significant social, health and educational priority. Development of effective approaches to safely reduce this number remains a complex but critical issue. Despite a proliferation in interventions, evidence summaries are limited. The present protocol outlines a scoping review of research evidence to identify what works in safely reducing the number of children and young people (aged ≤18 years) entering statutory social care. The mapping of evidence gaps, clusters and uncertainties will inform the research programme of the newly funded Department for Education’s What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.


Analysis of the Factors Contributing to the High Rates of Care in Wales

Authors: Dr Helen Hodges, Dan Bristow

On 31st March 2018, there were 6,405 children looked after in Wales, almost 1,900 more children than were looked after in 2006. Over that time Wales has consistently had more children looked after per 10,000 of the population than the rest of the UK, and that gap has widened.

Within Wales, while most Local Authorities have seen a rise in both the number and rate of children looked after, there is significant variation; and some have seen the rate of children looked after fall since 2014. Using published data, this report explores what we can say about the factors that are driving these trends.


‘Being a student with care experience is very daunting’ - Findings from a survey of care experienced students in Scottish colleges and universities

Author: Linda O’Neill, Neil Harrison, Nadine Fowler, Graham Connelly

CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection based at the University of Strathclyde, has published the findings of Scotland's first nation-wide survey of care experienced students in Scotland's colleges and universities.

Carried out on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council (SFC), this research aimed to get a better understanding of the factors that can be a barrier to, or can enable, care experienced students going to, being at, and staying at college and university in Scotland.

Authors: Annie Williams, Hannah Bayfield, Martin Elliott, Jennifer Lyttleton-Smith, Rhiannon Evans, Honor Young, Sara Long

Social Care Wales commissioned a project to explore the experiences of children and young people from Wales who received Secure Accommodation Orders between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2018. This project aimed to get a better understanding of the experiences of children and young people from Wales before, during and after their time in secure or alternative accommodation.

Housing Options and Care Leavers: Improving Outcomes into Adulthood

Author: Kenny McGhee Year: 2015

This Inform briefing provides an overview of information, policy and legislation and outlines the importance of good housing and accommodation options that improve outcomes for care leavers. We summarise research evidence about leaving care at a young age, and the positive impact on young people of ‘staying put’ in continuing care placements. Major policy initiatives and legislation are discussed: the Housing Options Protocols for Care Leavers (Scottish Government, 2013a), Staying Put Scotland (Scottish Government, 2013b), and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. We present new evidence about housing options and transitioning from care from two sources: the Throughcare and Aftercare National Survey of Scotland’s Local Authorities (McGhee et al., 2014) and follow-up survey of the Housing Options Protocols for Care Leavers carried out by CELCIS.

Throughcare and Aftercare Services in Scotland’s Local Authorities: A National Study

Authors: Kenny McGhee, Jennifer Lerpiniere, Vicki Welch, Pamela Graham, Bruce Harkin Year: 2014

This research seeks to establish a clear picture of current throughcare and aftercare (TCAC) provision across Scotland’s local authorities and to provide evidence that will inform ongoing debates about future directions and priorities for the TCAC sector. Above all, the research seeks to provide an evidence base which will help ensure that all care leavers receive the support they need to make a successful and positive transition into adult life.

Staying Put & Continuing Care: The Implementation Challenge

Author: Kenny McGhee Year: 2017

This article is based on a qualitative study of residential child care practitioners’ views and perspectives of the blocks and enablers to the implementation of staying put and continuing care practice with three Scottish local authorities. This small-scale qualitative study involved semi-structured interviews with nine residential practitioners, working in five children’s homes across three Scottish local authorities. Key findings highlight issues around learning and development opportunities for practitioners; the importance of managers and leaders in creating enabling contexts for practice; the challenges of resource pressures and limited capacity in the sector; and key issues around established culture and practice. What emerged was a consistent narrative of a complex, contradictory, nuanced context within which residential child care practitioners operate. The paper discusses these findings within the current context of challenges to implementing child care policy and the need to establish ‘a new norm’ for looked after young people transitioning from residential care settings.

Scottish Care Leavers Covenant

The Scottish Care Leavers Covenant supports Scotland’s corporate parents, carers, practitioners, managers and decision makers in fulfilling their duties to improve the life chances of all of Scotland’s care leavers.

Care leavers often struggle on their journey into adulthood. For many the leap from care to independence is just too great, and too many continue to experience problems that lead to much poorer outcomes than the general population. These outcomes are not inevitable and should not be accepted as the norm. The Covenant builds on the principles of Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) by taking a holistic, young person-centred approach. It focuses on the long-term wellbeing needs of care leavers; highlighting the need for early intervention and help that is appropriate, proportionate and timely. It also needs high standards of cooperation, joint working and communication between agencies locally and across Scotland. Aligning the Covenant with GIRFEC will make sure that the 'one child – one plan – one care journey’ principle continues beyond the young person’s care setting.
The voice of care leavers must be heard and inform the development of support available to them.

While high-quality support into adulthood is critical we know that improving outcomes for care leavers is built on the solid foundations of good, stable, care experiences. Therefore we will work with local authorities and partners to fully and meaningfully implement Staying Put Scotland Guidance and Part 11 (Continuing Care) of the Children
and Young People (Scotland) Act 20144, to ensure that young people only move on from care when they are ready to make the transition in a positive and sustained way.

Supported Accommodation: A Study

Author: James Frame, 2018

Moving on from care to adulthood and to having your own place to stay is a daunting experience and presents significant challenges for care experienced young people. There are a range of accommodation options available within and across local authority areas but these can vary in their purpose and design.
Having been in care myself and then ‘encouraged’ to move aged 16 into homeless and temporary accommodation (adult-type hostels, B&Bs, temporary furnished accommodation) I was keen to explore what, if anything, had changed since I left care seven years ago. At the time I wasn’t made fully unaware of the options available to me and I know now that I certainly wasn’t ready.
My own experience wasn’t particularly positive, having 25 moves between the ages of 16-18. Some services were better than others but the temporary nature of accommodation and support offered fuelled a sense of insecurity at a time when I needed stability most – I felt I always had to have a black bag ready as I never knew when or where I’d be moving next.
As such I have a real interest in helping improve services for other care experienced young people and had an idea for a supported accommodation project. To help me understand more about what is currently available and how these services operate, I undertook a short qualitative study of independent supported accommodation providers commissioned by local authorities in Scotland. Whilst these were registered as adult services aimed more broadly at young homeless people, they were primarily offering services for care experienced young people. Even when moving on from care, a young person had to be regarded as ‘homeless’ to be referred into these services.
The study visits gave me an opportunity to get a better understanding of the type of services and support provided. Visits were arranged and semi-structured interviews undertaken with managers and staff from the four identified services. In order to gain as full and honest a picture as possible, all responses have been anonymised and no individual service or local authority area will be identified. I am grateful for their willingness to be involved and thank them for their openness and insight into their service. I met some committed and caring staff working in a complex and challenging system, and much of what I learned, both positive and negative, chimes with my own experience and that of my care experienced friends and acquaintances.

Policy and practice supports for young people transitioning from out-of-home care: An analysis of six recent inquiries in Australia

Authors: Philip Mendes and Samone McCurdy Year: 2019

Government and parliamentary inquiries into child protection have historically exerted a significant impact on policy and practice reform. Yet to date, there has been no analysis of the impact of such inquiries on program and service supports for young people transitioning from out-of-home care (often termed leaving care). This article uses a content analysis methodology to critically examine and compare the findings of six recent Australian child protection inquiries (five at State and Territory level and one Commonwealth) in relation to their discrete sections on leaving care. Attention is drawn to how the policy issue is framed including key terminology, the major concerns identified, the local and international research evidence cited, and the principal sources of information including whether or not priority is given to the lived experience of care leavers.

All six inquiries identified major limitations in leaving care legislation, policy and practice including poor outcomes in key areas such as housing, education and employment. There was a consensus that post-18 assistance should be expanded, and most of the reports agreed that greater attention should be paid to the specific cultural needs of the large number of Indigenous care leavers.

Care leavers universally are a vulnerable group; leaving care policy should be informed by the lived experience and expertise of care leavers; governments have a responsibility to provide ongoing supports beyond 18 years of age particularly in areas such as housing and education, training and employment.

Looked after children, care leavers and risk of teenage conception; findings from Wales: Summary of a National Response.

Authors: Lyons, M., Couzens, Z., Craine, N., Andrews, S., & Whitaker, R. Year: 2016

Key messages for policy and practice
Welsh data demonstrate an elevated risk of teenage conceptions amongst looked after children and highlights the vulnerability of this group in Wales.
Service commissioners and providers across Wales should ensure accessible and appropriate services (in line with NICE guidelines) offering long acting reversible contraception for this group.
Currently there is no statutory requirement for social services in Wales to report on pregnancies amongst children in care. Service commissioners should consider adding both conceptions and pregnancy outcomes to reporting requirements in order to support improved service provision.
Sexual health outreach worker and school clinics should be developed in the areas of Wales where accessible sexual health services for young people do not currently exist.
Training of all health and social care professionals, including foster carers and staff of care homes working with looked after children, should include high standard validated training on sexual health. Training provision should be audited.

Looked after children nurses have a key role; they should have protected capacity to regularly advise and support young people on sexual health, act as links with other professionals, and also maintain their own
professional knowledge and competencies in sexual health especially contraception. Education about parenting skills should be available to all young parents from looked-after backgrounds.
The need for improved training and services on sexual health issues is also supported by the known vulnerability of looked after children to sexual abuse and exploitation, which was beyond the scope of these studies.

Exploring the educational experiences and aspirations of Looked After Children and young people (LACYP) in Wales

Authors: Dr Dawn Mannay, Dr Eleanor Staples, Dr Sophie Hallett, Dr Louise Roberts, Dr Alyson Rees, Dr Rhiannon Evans, Darren Andrews

The Great Divide: separation of care and education in Wales an examination of policy, reform and research evidence

Author: Natalie Macdonald

Year: 2018

Non formal early year’s preschool education and care provision continues to be a separated entity from education within Welsh Government policy, curriculum and professional development. Despite international research evidence depicting the importance and benefits of combining the early year’s elements with formal education the division within Wales remains. This article discusses the opportunity provided by the implementation of educational reform in Wales through ‘Successful Futures’ and ‘Prosperity for All’ to unite the care and education systems for young children and the potential benefits of doing so, sifting through robust evidence of the importance and long term attainment benefits of a quality early years’ provision, historical missed opportunities and the prospects for change.

A study into children and young people's participation in their Child in Care Reviews.

Author: Clive Diaz


The concept of service user participation in the delivery of services that affect them has gained momentum over the last thirty years. Children are no exception to this and those in care are subject to greater scrutiny of their lives than their peers. This study considered a key meeting for children in care – the Child in Care Review – and examined the extent to which children and young people are able to participate in these meetings and retain a level of control over their lives. The research, undertaken in one large local authority in England, explored the perspectives of children and young people, Social Workers, Independent Reviewing Officers and Senior Managers in individual qualitative interviews. The interview data was analysed thematically. The study found that young participants who reported a poor relationship with their Social Worker were more likely to feel negatively about their review and most young participants said that they found the review frustrating and stressful. The young participants were very aware of the workload pressures that Social Workers faced and how bureaucratic processes often seemed to translate in to them not receiving a good service. The Social Workers and Independent Reviewing Officers highlighted the importance of children’s participation, but in practice their commitment to the concept seemed minimal. Data would suggest some significant disconnection between Senior Managers’ views and all other participants’ perspectives on the challenges faced by social workers in terms of caseloads and workload pressures. Senior Managers reflected that little seemed to have changed in relation to children’s participation in their reviews over the last twenty-five years. The thesis concludes that as a vehicle for participation the Child in Care Review is still not working well, however the development of children chairing their own reviews offers some hope for the future. This practice could be built upon to ensure that children and young people leave Local Authority care with the best possible chance of becoming confident, stable and empowered adults. 

Identifying and Understanding Inequalities in Child Welfare Intervention Rates: Comparative studies in four UK countries. Single country quantitative study report: Wales

Authors: Martin Elliott and Jonathan Scourfield


This report is about the connection between social inequality and child welfare interventions. We analysed routine administrative data from Welsh local authorities on the children on child protection registers and in care (looked after) on 31 March 2015.

A Study on Senior Managers’ Views of Participation in One Local Authority… a Case of Wilful Blindness?

Authors: Clive Diaz & Tricia Aylward


Children in care are one of the most vulnerable groups in our society and senior managers should be committed towards improving their well-being. Empowerment through participation can contribute to this. This study considered the extent to which young people in care were encouraged to participate in decision making, particularly in their review meetings. The paper explores the views of seven senior managers in one local authority in this regard. It formed part of a wider study in which social workers, independent reviewing officers and young people in care were also interviewed. Findings indicate a disconnect between senior managers’ views and other participants. Senior managers were unaware of the challenges that the social workers and independent reviewing officers said they faced. Their understanding of meaningful participation appeared to be limited, their curiosity subdued and their willingness to challenge limited. Senior managers informed that care plans were not up-to-date or considered at the review and were unsure about what opportunities children had to participate and how management could support this. Senior managers reflected that little seemed to have changed in relation to children’s participation in their reviews over the last twenty-five years.

Children's participation in LAC reviews: a study in one English local authority

Authors:  Hayley Pert, Clive Diaz, Nigel Thomas


Although the law in England and Wales requires a child's wishes and feelings to be heard in LAC (Looked After Children) reviews, there remains limited research into how far this is achieved. This study interviewed 25 children and 16 foster carers to explore how well children understand and take part in reviews, and what factors impede this. The study found that levels of participation, as experienced by children and foster carers, were very low and the methods used were relatively ineffective. Children experienced significant barriers in engaging with the review process. The paper concludes that, as a vehicle of children's participation, LAC reviews are still not working well and calls for more attention to the views of children and young people and to the effectiveness of LAC reviews.

‘Just another person in the room’: young people’s views on their participation in Child in Care Reviews

Authors: Clive Diaz, Hayley Pert, Nigel Thomas


This article discusses a key meeting for children in care – the Child in Care Review – and examines the extent to which children and young people are able to participate and exert a level of control over their lives. The research, conducted in England, formed part of a wider exploration of the views and experiences of all those involved in such reviews, namely Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), social workers, senior managers and – the focus of this article – the young people concerned. Most of the children interviewed said that they found their reviews frustrating and stressful, often attributing this to poor relationships with social workers and scepticism about the value of the review process. However, they recognised the workload pressures facing social workers and the bureaucratic constraints affecting the service they received. The article argues for the continuing importance of the IRO role, given the consistency it provides for children in care. It also shows that while it provides an opportunity for children’s participation in discussions about their future, the Child in Care Review is underperforming. The developing practice of children chairing their own reviews offers one way forward and the article calls for this to be developed and for other creative methods to be introduced to enable young people to play a meaningful part in meetings that affect them.

Exploring the physical education and school sport experiences of looked-after children and young people

Author: Dr Chloe Woodhouse 


This qualitative study explores the Physical Education and School Sport (PESS) experiences of young people who are or who have been looked-after , i.e. who have been under the care of their local authority at some point. In recent years, there has been unprecedented awareness within policy and research of the disadvantageous trajectories that children and young people in care often face; particularly in relation to their education, health and wellbeing (Sempik et al., 2008). Despite the perceived capacity of sport/physical activity to contribute to young people s positive development (e.g. Holt, 2008; Bailey et al., 2009), few studies have considered the role of sport and physical activity in the lives of looked-after children and young people (LACYP). Indeed, to date, there remains a dearth of research on LACYP s experiences of sport and physical activity in educational contexts. This study, therefore, seeks to contribute to an increased understanding of this under- researched area. In keeping with more recent attempts to place person and circumstance at the heart rather than the periphery of sociological research (Holland et al., 2008) and in the interests of promoting the voices of marginalised and vulnerable young people (e.g. Heath et al., 2009; O Sullivan and MacPhail, 2010), this thesis provides new insights into the ways in which LACYP experience PESS, and how their broader life circumstances impact and shape those experiences. In so doing, the study adopts a conceptual framework in the form of a social ecological model that possesses five levels of influence at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, community and public policy level (see McLeroy et al., 1988). Considering both adult and youth voices (generated through semi-structured surveys and interviews with young people, PE teachers and local authority professionals), the empirical data presented makes an original contribution to knowledge by foregrounding the multiple social ecological influences that are at play within LACYP s experiences of PESS. For example, the study highlights how the social ecological context for each LACYP presents notable difficulties in relation to personal and physical environment, pre-care experience, health and wellbeing, and educational engagement. What the resultant findings depict is that LACYP s lives are highly complex and multi-dimensional and should not be viewed in isolation from wider life circumstance. To this end, the study seeks to challenge the wayin which PESS is currently offered to LACYP (and others with complex needs) and therefore has implications for research, policy and practice. This includes issues with regards to the different perspectives of adults and young people; the appropriate training for PE teachers; and the methodological challenges of doing research with LACYP.

The Educational Experiences of Children in Care A qualitative study of stories recalled across five decades of local authority care experiences

Author: Dr Karen Kenny


This project aimed to explore the educational experiences of ‘looked after children’ in one local authority in England. Young people, in the care of the state, have consistently lower educational achievements than their peers who live with their birth families. This situation is not unique to the UK context; it is replicated across Europe and North America. Aiming for an ethnographic study, the project generated much needed qualitative data in order to consider the educational experiences of children in care in Devon. To date much research in this area has focussed on statistical analysis of measured outcomes, and contributory factors which show a bleak picture of underachievement and poor adult outcomes. The design allowed for a more rounded picture of the full educational experience, not just in terms of achievement, but a view of wider educational experiences, giving an in-depth insight into the value that a looked after child places on ‘education’ in its widest sense. The results of this study add to the small body of research in this area which takes a more sociological view. The researcher worked with young people and older alumni of care, with participants’ ages ranging across five decades: 11 to 59, allowing an element of temporality to be considered in a relatively short term project. Experiences were gathered by means of qualitative interviews, focussed on the present with the young people, and using a life history lens when working with adults. The findings were analysed in such a way as to identify educational themes across generations, for those young people who are in the care of the local authority. The study found that for young people in local authority care education is perceived as occurring across their life experiences, a much wider definition than that which happens within formal ‘school’ environments. This broader view of education encompassed life skills, social skills, sporting skills and digital skills. Participants storied themselves as achievers within this wider view of education. The study showed that young people in care could be reflexive in their learning, they storied themselves as agentic, and exhibited a habitus which helped them to learn who they were, and to recognise their achievements. The study adds to current understanding about the way children in care learn. A visual model of ‘Conditions for Learning’ has been developed, based around the three theoretical constructs: reflexivity, agency, and habitus. This model has the potential to be applied to larger groups and other young people, to explore the conditions which support their learning. These findings provide important insights which could inform decision-making within both the care and education professions.

The Value of Cultural and Creative Engagement: Understanding the Experiences and Opinions of Care-experienced Young People and Foster Carers in Wales

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Phil Smith, Stephen Jennings, Catt Turney and Peter Davies
Report Commissioned by the Wales Millennium Centre

The research aimed to assess the current knowledge base regarding care-experienced children’s and young people’s engagement with the arts, and toexplore the views of facilitators, young people, and their carers involved in the arts-based programme at the Wales Millennium Centre.
Objective 1: Collate and report relevant data and literature.
Objective 2: Conduct an in-depth qualitative research study with programme facilitators, care-experienced young people, and their foster families to provide insight into their experience of being involved with the arts-based programme, and their opinions on what could be done to improve the model and encourage engagement with the arts more widely.

Social Media, Social Capital and Adolescents Living in State Care: A Multi-Perspective and Multi-Method Qualitative Study

Authors: Simon Hammond, Neil Cooper & Peter Jordan


Social media applications are used daily by billions to communicate. Adolescents living in state care are no different, yet the potential implications of their social media use are. Despite the global use of social media and evidence highlighting their role in social capital cultivation, how adolescents living in state care make use of social media remains unknown, with discussions tending to focus exclusively on risk. Using data from a four-year Digital Life Story Work (DLSW) research programme, this paper explores adolescents’ and social care professionals’ (n=45) perspectives on the everyday use of social media by adolescents living in state care. Using an ethnographic multi-method approach, extracts of conversations from the four English residential homes engaged in the DLSW programme were thematically analysed. Three major themes emerged; contacts as currency, promoting and protecting the self and transitions. Analysis illustrates how adolescents living in state care use social media as active digital agents and the need to reframe this usage to enable benefits to be enacted. The paper concludes that urgent research is needed to enable practitioners and policy makers to show a deeper appreciation of the potentials of social media, enabling a more balanced approach to succeed in practice.

National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers’ First Year Report

This report provides reflections from the National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers on his findings from his visits from local authorities in his first year in post.

Enabling talk and reframing messages: working creatively with care experienced children and young people to recount and re-represent their everyday experiences

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Eleanor Staples, Sophie Hallett, Louise Roberts , Alyson Rees, Rhiannon Evans and Darren Andrews

Year: 2018

The educational experiences and outcomes of care experienced children and young people is of longstanding concern. The pervasive inequalities they face suggest that current policies have been unable to respond fully to the complex causes of the problem. This paper reflects on a qualitative study into the educational experiences and aspirations of children and young people who are looked after in Wales. The project worked with care experienced peer researchers and drew on visual, creative and participatory techniques to explore 67 children’s and young people’s experiences of education and, importantly, their opinions on what could be done to improve it. This multimodal approach allowed space for participants to think through their subjective, mundane, but important, experiences that operate alongside, and interact with, more structural challenges. A range of films, magazines, artwork, and music outputs were developed to ensure that the project recommendations could reach wide and diverse audiences. This paper argues the voices of children and young people need to be given a platform to inform policy and practice. For this to happen researchers need to be creative in their approaches to both fieldwork and dissemination; harnessing the power of the arts to make positive changes in the everyday lives of children and young people.

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Visual methodologies, sand and psychoanalysis: employing creative participatory techniques to explore the educational experiences of mature students and children in care

Authors: Dawn MannayEleanor Staples & Victoria Edwards

Year: 2017


Social science research has witnessed an increasing move towards visual methods of data production. However, some visual techniques remain pariah sites because of their association with psychoanalysis; and a reluctance to engage with psychoanalytically informed approaches outside of therapy-based settings. This paper introduces the method of ‘sandboxing’, which was developed from the psychoanalytical approach of the ‘world technique’. ‘Sandboxing’ provides an opportunity for participants to create three-dimensional scenes in sand-trays, employing miniature figures and everyday objects. Data are presented from two studies conducted in Wales, UK. The first, exploring mature students’ accounts of higher education, and the second, exploring the educational experiences of children and young people in public care. The paper argues that psychoanalytical work can be adapted to enable a distinctive, valuable and ethical tool of qualitative inquiry; and illustrates how ‘sandboxing’ engendered opportunities to fight familiarity, enabled participatory frameworks, and contributed to informed policy and practice.

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British Education Journal: Systematic review of educational interventions for looked-after children and young people: Recommendations for intervention development and evaluation

Authors: Rhiannon Evans, Rachel Brown, Gwyther Rees and Philip Smith

Year: 2017


Looked-after children and young people (LACYP) are educationally disadvantaged compared to the general population. A systematic review was conducted of randomised controlled trials evaluating interventions aimed at LACYP aged ≤18 years. Restrictions were not placed on delivery setting or delivery agent. Intervention outcomes were: academic skills; academic achievement and grade completion; special education status; homework completion; school attendance, suspension, and drop-out; number of school placements; teacher-student relationships; school behaviour; and academic attitudes. Fifteen studies reporting on 12 interventions met the inclusion criteria. Nine interventions demonstrated tentative impacts. However, evidence of effectiveness could not be ascertained due to variable methodological quality, as appraised by the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Theoretical and methodological recommendations are provided to enhance the development and evaluation of educational interventions.


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British Educational Research Journal - The consequences of being labelled ‘looked-after’: Exploring the educational experiences of looked-after children and young people in Wales

Authors: Dawn Mannay, Rhiannon Evans, Eleanor Staples, Sophie Hallet, Louise Roberts, Alyson Rees and Darren Andrews

Year: 2017


The educational experiences and attainment of looked-after children and young people (LACYP) remains an issue of widespread international concern. Within the UK, children and young people in care achieve poorer educational outcomes compared to individuals not in care. Despite proliferation of research documenting the reasons for educational disadvantage amongst this population, there remains limited empirical consideration of the lived experiences of the educational system, as perceived by LACYP themselves. This paper draws upon qualitative research with 67 care-experienced children and young people in Wales. The sample was aged 6–27 years, and comprised 27 females and 40 males. Participants had experienced a range of care placements. Findings focus on how educational policies and practices alienate LACYP from dominant discourses of educational achievement through assignment of the ‘supported’ subject position, where children and young people are permitted and even encouraged not to succeed academically due to their complex and disrupted home circumstances. However, such diminished expectations are rejected by LACYP, who want to be pushed and challenged in the realisation of their potential. The paper argues that more differentiated understandings of LACYP's aspirations and capabilities need to be embedded into everyday practices, to ensure that effective educational support systems are developed.

Hidden Ambitions - Wales’ commitment to young people leaving care

Author: The Children's Commissioner for Wales

Year: 2016


In this spotlight report, Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner, is asking local and national government, charities
and private enterprise to pledge their support to
realising the ambitions of young people leaving care. The Commissioner wants to ensure young people leaving care can have the same expectations in terms of care and support as their peers.

All Wales Heads of Children’s Services Research on differences in the looked after children population

Author: All Wales Heads of Children's Services

Year: 2013


This research was commissioned by the All Wales Heads of Children’s Services, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the Association of Directors of Social Services. It seeks to provide insight into the following research question:

Why do local authorities with similar levels of need, have different looked after children populations?

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Central South Consortium: Children Looked After Friendly Schools

This document outlines the ways in which good practice for CLA within schools and educational settings can be undertaken.