This chapter, written with Dr Paul Rees, draws upon a study which considered the experiences and views of 165 key individuals involved in or experiencing supervised birth family contact at an identified contact centre within Wales.  

The importance of family relationships is enshrined in regional, national and international legislation.  For many children in care the amount of contact they have with their birth family is restricted.  As the number of young people entering care continues to rise so does the need to better understand how to enhance and promote relationships between young people and their family.  This is especially important given that contact has the potential to impact upon the wellbeing of young people and longer-term plans made.  However, there is insufficient guidance around what constitutes positive contact and how to promote such contact.

The adopted methodology enabled the views of young people, family members, carers, contact supervisors and social workers to be sought.  Furthermore, for the dynamic nature of supervised contact to be explored overtime.

Factors such as communication, support, knowledge, context, consistency and attitudes towards contact were found to heavily impact upon the experience and quality of contact.  We were struck by the interrelatedness between these key factors and their potential to change the perception and experience of contact over time.  The disparity in views and experiences between the different key groups, and the value in understanding this experience from different perspectives, was clearly illustrated.

It is hoped that clarifying what constitutes positive birth family contact, and identifying which factors have the propensity to promote such contact, will assist students and practitioners in thinking about and achieving positive supervised contact for children in care.

Chapter 9

Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales

This is the latest blog in a series relating to the recently released book “Children and Young People ‘Looked After’? Education, Intervention and the Everyday Culture of Care in Wales”. Over the next few weeks we will be uploading blog posts from chapter authors.

Find the other blogs in this series on our blog page!