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Care leavers research

Catch22 has been involved with research projects across different aspects of leaving care, working in partnership with young people, universities, local authorities, public bodies and international organisations.

LIFT Children’s Homes Project

The LIFT Children’s Homes Project was a two-year project designed to explore barriers and identify solutions with an aim of improving outcomes for young people leaving residential care and supported accommodation.

The project focused on three areas of improvement:

  • knowledge and practice with regards to pathway and transition planning
  • approaches to preparation for adult life and independence
  • opportunities for education training and employment.

The project placed the voices and experiences of young people in residential care and the professionals that supported them at the heart of the work, incorporating co-production approaches to workshops and training and ensuring a multi-disciplinary dialogue.

The unique approach produced significant changes within project sites and it continues to inspire improvements in local authorities that are members of the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLCBF).

Over ten authorities have now adopted and adapted the redesigned ‘Pathway Plan’ created as part of the project and many more authorities continue to adapt and embed preparation for adult life resources such as the ‘Get Ready For Adult Life’.

A series of briefings have been produced based on the findings of the project:

The project was externally evaluated by Dr Leslie Hicks and Jenny Dagg from the University of Lincolnshire.

Contact for more information about the project

Peer research

Peer research recognises that young people are experts by experience, but is also about providing them with the opportunity to learn new and transferable skills and be involved in a specialist area that is normally inaccessible to the vast majority of care leavers.

The Catch22 National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) was at the forefront of involving care leavers in research built upon partnerships with universities, young people, local authorities, public bodies and international organisations.

From the very first peer research project What Makes the Difference?, the scale and scope of young people’s involvement in research was increased, from evaluating Government pilot schemes to young people from England sharing their experiences and shaping the methodology for the SOS Children’s Villages European Peer Research project that aimed to find out from care leavers in four countries what makes the difference when preparing to leave care.

Corporate parenting

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, this four-year research project started in September 2010 and worked with 12 local authorities across England to explore corporate parenting and the relationship young people in care and care leavers have with their local authority – their corporate parent. Care-experienced young people were involved in the monitoring and delivery of the research, and there was a young person’s reference group which helped to shape the questionnaire and relevant materials. Over 20 care leavers were also trained as peer researchers.

Head, Heart and Hands

The Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) at Loughborough University, in partnership with the Colebrook Centre for Evidence and Implementation and Catch22 NCAS, was commissioned by the Fostering Network to evaluate the impact of a national demonstration programme (Head, Heart and Hands: a social pedagogic approach) to improve the quality of foster care.

Siblings Together

Catch22 NCAS worked with the Rees Centre for Research on Fostering and Education at the University of Oxford on an evaluation of a pilot befriending scheme for young people in care and their siblings. The three-year evaluation of the scheme (April 2013 to March 2016) involved gathering information from young people, befrienders, carers and developers of the scheme.