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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2007

Shalhevet Attar, Gillian Parker and Jim Wade

Several studies have used secondary data sources in order to learn about outcomes for adults who have been in contact with the care system in childhood. This article…

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Abstract

Several studies have used secondary data sources in order to learn about outcomes for adults who have been in contact with the care system in childhood. This article discusses two of the large‐scale longitudinal datasets in the UK that are available to researchers and which include information on adults who were looked after in childhood: The National Child Developmental Study (NCDS) and The British Cohort Study (BCS70). These databases are considered to be among the best sources available to investigate long‐term outcomes for lookedafter children in the UK. This article describes these databases and the use made of them by researchers exploring the life chances of lookedafter children. It also identifies the advantages as well as the limitations of these datasets and presents implications for this field of research.

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 2 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2017

Jo Staines

The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to a recent government-commissioned review of residential care (Narey, 2016), and the subsequent government response…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to a recent government-commissioned review of residential care (Narey, 2016), and the subsequent government response (Department of Education (DfE), 2016), which minimises the correlation between the experience of being looked after and becoming involved in the youth justice system. The Narey review emphasises on the role of early adversity in looked after children’s offending behaviour but minimises the significance of experiences during and after care, and downplays the effect of policies and practices that may exacerbate looked after children’s involvement in the youth justice system.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper builds upon a systematic literature review conducted for the Prison Reform Trust (Staines, 2016) to demonstrate the extent of current knowledge about how risk factors, adverse experiences during and after care and the criminalisation of looked after children combine to increase the likelihood of involvement in criminal proceedings. The paper also highlights gaps in the research evidence, particularly in relation to gender and ethnicity.

Findings

The findings suggest that the Narey review (2016) and the government response (DfE, 2016), are misguided in their attempts to minimise the role of care in looked after children’s disproportionate representation within the youth justice system. The paper cautions against the over-simplification of a complex relationship and emphasises on the importance of recognising the intersection between different factors.

Originality/value

The paper uses secondary sources to develop an original argument to rebut claims within a recently published review.

Details

Safer Communities, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2013

Jennifer Driscoll

There has been little research on the education of looked after children over the current school leaving age of 16, although the underperformance of this cohort at Key…

Abstract

Purpose

There has been little research on the education of looked after children over the current school leaving age of 16, although the underperformance of this cohort at Key Stage 4 (age 14‐16) has been the subject of considerable academic commentary. This paper aims to contribute to understanding of the ways in which looked after young people nearing the end of compulsory education can be supported and encouraged to continue in education and training.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews were undertaken with 12 designated teachers for looked after children and four virtual school heads, as part of the first stage of a three‐year longitudinal study following 20 looked after children in England from years 11‐13 (ages 15‐18).

Findings

Participants identified particular challenges in ensuring a successful educational transition for looked after young people in year 11 and expressed concern at the cumulative effect of multiple transitions at this stage on young people's lives. There appears, however, to be an increasing focus on and commitment to giving young people a “second chance” to acquire qualifications commensurate with their potential post‐16. The comparative advantages and disadvantages of school and further education colleges for this cohort at Key Stage 5 are considered.

Practical implications

The implications of the forthcoming extension of the school leaving age for professionals supporting looked after young people post‐16 are discussed.

Originality/value

The designated teacher for looked after children became a statutory role in 2009, and to date there has been little research on the role of these professionals, or the work of virtual schools.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2017

Katy Swaine Williams

The purpose of this paper is to describe the current policy context for work aimed at reducing the criminalisation of looked after children in England and Wales, and to…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the current policy context for work aimed at reducing the criminalisation of looked after children in England and Wales, and to consider the potential that now exists for a sustained reduction in the numbers and proportion of looked after children and young people becoming unnecessarily criminalised.

Design/methodology/approach

The author of this paper worked on the Prison Reform Trust’s independent review of looked after children in the criminal justice system, “In Care, Out of Trouble”, chaired by Lord Laming. The paper describes the context for the review and outlines its findings alongside those of concurrent government-commissioned reviews, detailing the government response. The paper describes the action now being taken to reduce the criminalisation of looked after children and argues that, while the UK and Welsh governments appear willing to lead in pursuing reforms, continued pressure will be needed to ensure that this translates into sustained change.

Findings

The paper notes that looked after children and young people remain significantly over represented in the criminal justice system despite a number of studies and statutory guidance aimed at preventing this. This is being successfully tackled in places where children’s social care services are working closely with criminal justice agencies, with common goals. The paper reports on the responses from the Welsh and UK governments and lead agencies to Lord Laming’s review and concurrent government-commissioned reviews, which confirm their willingness to show national leadership in raising expectations for effective local joint working.

Practical implications

The paper offers an insight into the current policy context for protecting looked after children and young people from unnecessary criminalisation and sets out the commitments that have been made by the UK and Welsh governments and national agencies to take action to this end. It notes the need for ongoing outside pressure to ensure these commitments translate into action.

Social implications

This paper aims to support policy makers and practitioners in pursuing improvements in practice to protect looked after children from unnecessary criminalisation. As such, it is hoped that it may play a part in improving the life chances of looked after children and young people who might otherwise face the damaging consequences of involvement in the criminal justice system.

Originality/value

Lord Laming’s review was a timely, independent examination of the unnecessary criminalisation of looked after children. There is now a renewed focus in key government departments and agencies on the need to protect looked after children and young people from unnecessary criminalisation, including through the development of a concordat. Success will require ongoing dialogue with independent bodies, and a stronger focus by the relevant inspectorates. This paper summarises the context and findings of the review and subsequent policy developments, and may be useful for policy makers, practitioners in children’s social care and youth justice, and the police.

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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2013

Michele McClung and Vernon Gayle

The purpose of this article is to explore whether the concept of social capital is helpful in explaining the educational underachievement of looked after children.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to explore whether the concept of social capital is helpful in explaining the educational underachievement of looked after children.

Design/methodology/approach

Analysis of data on educational achievement and social care in a cohort of 1,407 children over the age of 15 who left care in two Scottish local authorities between 2000 and 2005.

Findings

The educational attainments of children do reflect key factors in their backgrounds before entry to care but their characteristics also lead them to be placed in specific placements that have differing abilities for promoting social capital. An examination of evidence on bonding social capital, bridging social capital, and linking social capital and trust, shows that social capital theory helps to theoretically interpret the low educational achievements of looked after children.

Originality/value

The large and comprehensive data set permits a factor analysis of background and care variables, thus clarifying the significance of each in explaining children's educational attainments and assessing the value of a social capital perspective.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 8 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 21 December 2015

Lottie Morris, Paul Salkovskis, Joanna Adams, Andrew Lister and Richard Meiser-Stedman

Many children who are looked after by the state have experienced adverse and traumatic life circumstances prior to being removed from their biological parents. Previous…

Abstract

Purpose

Many children who are looked after by the state have experienced adverse and traumatic life circumstances prior to being removed from their biological parents. Previous research has highlighted that many of them experience barriers to accessing psychological therapies. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the feasibility of assessing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-like symptoms using a screening tool, and through this to determine the prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms in looked after children presenting with emotional and/or behavioural problems.

Design/methodology/approach

The Child Revised Impact of Events Scale (CRIES-8) was identified as a suitable screening tool for PTSD-like symptoms. This measure was piloted for three months, and the prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms amongst respondents (n=27) was recorded.

Findings

Prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms was found to be high 75 per cent amongst respondents. The psychometric properties of the CRIES-8 were similar to those found in a previous study assessing PTSD following a single-incident trauma. Health care professionals reported finding the CRIES-8 to be a clinically useful measure.

Originality/value

Prevalence of PTSD-like symptoms may be high amongst looked after children, and the CRIES-8 appears to have good psychometric properties when used with this population. It is likely that this highly treatable condition is under-detected: thus, recommendations are made for clinical practice and further research.

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 21 December 2015

Celia Beckett, Richard Cross, Jaqui Hewitt-Taylor and Pam McConnell

– The purpose of this paper is to describe the development process of building an assessment model to assess the emotional and behavioural needs of “looked after children”.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe the development process of building an assessment model to assess the emotional and behavioural needs of “looked after children”.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a technical paper developing and evaluating a process for comprehensively assessing children ' s needs using a combination of three existing tools.

Findings

The paper identifies a model to assess “looked afterchildren and highlights some of the early benefits and challenges which have been encountered using this model.

Practical implications

This paper suggests a model and timeframe to ensure that detailed assessments of the mental health of “looked afterchildren are effectively carried out.

Social implications

There is a potential for an improvement in assessment of looked after children that will lead to the identification of appropriate interventions and services.

Originality/value

The paper is new in identifying a combination of assessment measures and a timeline to complete these.

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Article
Publication date: 10 July 2017

Anne-Marie Day

The purpose of this paper is to assess the early findings of research which aims to hear the voice of looked after children about their pathways into offending and…

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1767

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess the early findings of research which aims to hear the voice of looked after children about their pathways into offending and subsequent entry into the youth justice system, and the implications that this may have for policy and practice.

Design/methodology/approach

One-to-one semi-structured interviews have taken place with 19 looked after children, who are also subject to youth justice supervision. The interviews have been analysed to identify emerging themes, using broadly grounded approaches.

Findings

Three important findings arise from the interviews with the participants. First, children in care are being labelled and removed from the mainstream due to problematic behaviours, rather than searching for the underlying cause of the behaviour. Second, significant anger and frustration is expressed towards residential care staff and the child’s social worker, due to several reasons relating to the institutional environment within residential care, and a lack of trust for those professionals with whom control over the child’s life rests. Finally, the children describe feeling powerless whilst in care, and within this context, the peer group plays a crucial role within the lives of the children interviewed.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are based on the subjective views of 19 interviewees. The sample is not representative, and has not been compared with other forms of data. Rather, it provides the reader with the perspectives of some of the most challenging and vulnerable children in the youth justice system, and places their voice at centre stage.

Practical implications

This paper points to several challenges within current youth justice and social work practice which led to the interviewees feeling disempowered and ambivalent about their future. A number of recommendations for policy and practice are made in the concluding sections of the paper which may assist those in policy and practice.

Originality/value

The voice of the looked after child who is also subject to youth justice has not been given centre stage within research to date. The findings are based on this voice and offer a different perspective about a looked after child’s pathways into offending. A number of potential implications for policy and practice, which could be considered and implemented to deal with this problem, are then discussed.

Details

Safer Communities, vol. 16 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-8043

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Article
Publication date: 27 September 2010

Sonia Jackson

The Children Act 1989 ended a period of four decades during which the education of children and young people in care was almost entirely neglected. However, it was another…

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1026

Abstract

The Children Act 1989 ended a period of four decades during which the education of children and young people in care was almost entirely neglected. However, it was another 20 years before education took its rightful place at the centre of provision for the care of children away from home. This article considers the contribution made to this process by the Act and its accompanying Guidance, what progress has been made and what were the obstacles, past and continuing, that have made it so difficult to narrow the gap in attainment between lookedafter children and others.

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Journal of Children's Services, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

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Article
Publication date: 20 November 2009

Roger Bullock

In the desire to improve outcomes for children in care, the issue of those individuals placed by local authorities in residential establishments run by external agencies…

Abstract

In the desire to improve outcomes for children in care, the issue of those individuals placed by local authorities in residential establishments run by external agencies has become especially salient. In addition to questions of quality and value for money, there are concerns about children becoming detached from local services, especially as many of the placements selected are outside the local authorities' geographical boundaries. This study looks at 262 children so placed in eight English local authorities. It was found that although there were common presenting problems, such as a need for specialist therapy or to reduce difficult behaviour, the children's circumstances varied and four distinct groups of children with common needs were identified. The use of such placements also varied across the authorities and did not mirror their numbers of children in care. The factors associated with the use of externally purchased residential placements and differences between those placed internally and externally are explored. A framework for developing new approaches for difficult adolescents and suggestions about fruitful service development are offered.

Details

Journal of Children's Services, vol. 4 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-6660

Keywords

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