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Safe foster care for victims of child sexual exploitation

Lucie Elizabeth Shuker (International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, United Kingdom.)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to report on an evaluation of a pilot of specialist foster care for children at risk, or victims, of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and/or trafficking.


The research adopted a multi-case study approach, gathering placement documentation, interviews and weekly monitoring logs throughout the duration of the 13 placements.


This evaluation found that safety for those at risk, or victims, of CSE within the in-care population has both a physical and a relational element. The most successful placements were able to deploy restrictive safety measures effectively by tipping the balance of care and control towards demonstrations of compassion and acceptance. Good relationships in these foster homes unlocked other positive outcomes, including reduced missing incidences and increased awareness of exploitation.

Research limitations/implications

The small sample size within this pilot project suggests the need for further research to test the applicability of the notion of multi-dimensional safety to young people’s welfare more generally.

Practical implications

The findings confirm previous research that highlights the importance of stable relationships in child protection. They have implications for current tendencies to commission short-term CSE interventions that are unlikely to create the relational security that can improve community safety for young people.


This is the first published evaluation of specialist accommodation for those affected by CSE in the UK, and its findings will therefore be of most value to commissioners and providers of care to looked after young people. The concept of multi-dimensional safety will be relevant to those with responsibility for child welfare/safeguarding.



The data in this paper was produced for an evaluation that was commissioned as part of a grant awarded to Barnardo’s by the DfE to undertake a Safe Accommodation Project between 2011 and 2013. The final evaluation report was published in 2013.


Shuker, L.E. (2015), "Safe foster care for victims of child sexual exploitation", Safer Communities, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 37-46.



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