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					    The work of the Rees Centre

               Judy Sebba
Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and
 Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and
Overall aim of the Centre is to:
• identify what works to improve the
  outcomes and life chances of children and
  young people in foster care

We are doing this by:
• reviewing existing research in order to
  make better use of current evidence;
• conducting new research to address gaps.

• Centre is funded by Core Assets,
  international children’s services provider
The current evidence base in children’s services (adapted
            from Stevens et al, 2009, p.286)

      Methods used in 625            No of    % of
       studies (selective)          studies   studies

          Qualitative                230        37
          Mixed method               108        17
           Longitudinal               74        12
      Quantitative dataset            16         3
      Non-randomised trial            8          1
              RCT                     3         <1
        Systematic review             2         <1
  Some key principles of our work
• Focus on fostering not adoption;
• User engagement throughout the research
  process - providers, carers, young people;
• Synthesis of existing international evidence;
• New projects including trials & mixed method;
• More accessible findings & debate about
  them – blog, twitter, speaking to groups etc.
 What problem is the research on motivation to
             foster addressing?
• number of children and young people in care
  is increasing faster than the number of foster
  carers (e.g. Rodger et al, 2006);

• only half of those who request information
  about fostering express their intention to
  consider it further (e.g. Ciarrochi et al., 2011)
  and Triseliotis et al., (2000) noted that 80% of
  enquiries did not result in an application.
 Why do people become foster carers: a review
        of the international research
• Reviewed 32 studies from Australia, Canada, US and
• Studies were retrospective, mainly small scale, often relied on
  one source only and possible that interviewers were seen as
  potential ‘assessors’;
• Only one study (Brown et al 2006) in which carers played a
  significant role in the research;
• Compared findings to review of UK literature by McDermid et
  al (2012) & TFN’s 2012 survey;
• Recommendations are being addressed through DfE
  commissioned survey and future Rees Centre study.
Why do people become foster carers?
          main findings
• Knowing other foster carers or, less often, contact with a
  fostered child or young person is most likely reason for
  initial interest;

• Myths about fostering are common in the general public
  but can be addressed through better information though
  contact with foster parents is most effective;

• Lack of appropriate support for carers, not including
  them as part of the ‘team’ leads to dissatisfaction - sends
  negative messages to those who might foster.
Why do people become foster carers?
          other findings
• main drivers for fostering are intrinsic and essentially
  altruistic often expressed as ‘loving children’ & wanting
  to make a difference to the lives of children;
• extending the family/providing a sibling for a lone
  child, personal experience of being fostered or growing
  up with fostered children, wanting home-based
• Income generation not a principal motivation to foster,
  though studies rarely distinguish between carers from
  different income groups. Covering costs and replacing
  income from previous employment important.
           New study on motivation

• Identify number of initial inquiries, proportion
  that lead to registration and time taken – 2 LAs
  have reported >200 inquiries/year, 4-13%
  approved, in average time of 8-16 months;
• Invite those inquiring to participate;
• Foster carers to interview those inquiring about
  initial motivations, types of child, etc;
• Re-interview after approx 8 months;
• Interview those choosing not to continue.
              Some future research plans
• What motivates foster carers?
Based on the review will follow up those who inquire, interviews
undertaken by foster carers

• How do foster carers support each other?
What is the nature of the support and what does it provide? Outcomes
for carers & children? Review & intervention.

• Supporting carers to develop children’s literacy (tbc)
Looking at literacy of children in care at primary to secondary school

• Siblings together
An evaluation of befriending scheme to bring siblings together who
have been placed apart

• Fostering teenagers
Seminar series proposed Oxford, Bedfordshire, Gothenburg
            Educational issues
• 13% gain five A*-Cs GCSEs (including Maths &
  English) compared to 58% of all children – a gap
  of 45%;
• Only 8% access HE compared to > 50% of general
• 75% of children in care have identified SEN and
  their attainment is lower than SEN pupils in
• educational experiences and outcomes
  contribute to later health, employment (22%
  unemployment rate), involvement in crime (27%
  of those in prison have been in care) and so on.
    Key messages from research about educational
• Foster carer training in behaviour (e.g. Briskman & Scott 2012)
  suggest improvements in outcome measures;
• Higher academic achievement in fostered children is related
  to a higher number of accessible books (Cheung et al. 2012);
• Flynn et al. (2012) reported enhanced sentence
  comprehension and reading outcomes when carers undertook
  2.5 hours reading activities a week with their foster child;
• Points of transition e.g. school transfer, are particularly
  problematic for children in care;
• caregiver’s educational aspirations for the young person
  emerges as predictor of educational success (Flynn et al,
• Placement stability is closely correlated with attainment but
  what affects placement stability?
• Longer children are in care, the better their educational
  outcomes (Berridge 2012) – potential of carer influence.

Key Stage 4 attainment by the length of time in care (DfE 2011 Datapack for LAs)

                                                      Key Stage 4 performance by length of time in care

                              60                                                 55.8               55.1           5+ GCSEs at grades A*-G
                                                                                                                   5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
       Percentage achieving

                                   44.0                                                                            5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
                                              40.7                                                                 including English & mathematics
                              20                                                                                  16.4
                                                                                                    13.8                       15.0
                                               9.0           10.2

                   12-18 months           18 months - 2   2 - 3 years         3 - 4 years        4 - 5 years   5 - 6 years   6 years or more
                                                                        Length of time in care
   User engagement in Rees Centre Research

Regular consultation with:
• Children & young people in care, care leavers
  – from LAs & independent providers;
• Carers – Ten carers completed training as
  interviewers on 5 Dec, another 15 on 30 Jan;
• Service providers, social workers;
• Advisory group;
• International Experts Reference Group.
       How you can find out more

• Lectures & seminars
• Mailing List –
• Web -
• Comment on our blog – or write for us
• Newsletter
• Twitter - @ReesCentre
• Berridge, D.(2012) Educating young people in care Children and Youth
  Services Review 34, 1171-1175
• Briskman, J. & Scott, S.(2012). RCT of the Fostering Changes Programme,
  The National Academy for Parenting Research, Report for DfE.
• Cheung, C. et al. (2012) Helping youth in care succeed. Children & Youth
  Services Review 34 1092-1100
• Flynn, R., et al.(2012) Effects of individual direct-instruction tutoring on
  foster children's academic skills: A RCT. Children & Youth Services Review
  34, 1183-1189
• Robert J. Flynn, Nicholas G. Tessier & Daniel Coulombe (2013): Placement,
  protective and risk factors in the educational success of young people in
  care: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, European Journal of Social
  Work, DOI:10.1080/13691457.2012.722985
• Stevens, M., Liabo, K., Witherspoon, S. and Roberts, H. (2009) What do
  practitioners want from research, what do funders fund and what needs
  to be done to know more about what works in the new world of children's
  services? Evidence & policy: vol 5, no 3: 281-294.

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