By Rosemary Furey and Jean Harris-Evans (Sheffield Hallam University)

Child and Family Social Work, doi: 10.1111/cfs.12822 

Review written by Dr David Wilkins

What question does this study focus on?

This paper reports on the perspectives of care leavers in relation to obtaining employment and independence after leaving care. It looks in particular at a scheme in one local authority to support care leavers via the provision of an internship within various different departments of the council. 

How did they study it?

Young adults with care experience took part in interviews, and workplace supervisors of the internship programme attended a focus group. One additional supervisor was interviewed, as they were unable to attend the focus group. The interviews and focus-group were audio-recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was then used to explore the perspectives of the participants and identify common themes across the data. 

What did they find?

The care leavers spoke about the importance of making a genuine contribution via their internships, but also about the need for an emotionally supportive working environment. The workplace supervisors were also aware that some of the care leavers needed additional emotional support, compared with other members of staff, and most felt they could provide this – but not all, some feeling that they lacked the specialist knowledge required. Within the wider internship programme, care leavers could also access support from an education support worker, a dedicated worker as well as a supervisor to help support them and continued to have a statutory personal advisor. For some, this caused role-confusion and care leavers were not always sure who they should ask for help. 

What are the implications?

All of the care leavers in this study successfully completed the internship programme and wanted to continue in education or training afterwards. Although only small-scale, this study does show the potential for internship programmes to help facilitate future employment-related activities and promote care leaver independence. It also shows that supporting adults with care experience into work can be as much about providing emotional-support, as it is about workplace support per se.   

Review written by

Dr David Wilkins