Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, partners with The Rees Centre (University of Oxford) to define new measurement of success for care leavers
National charity, Become, is working with the University of Oxford’s Rees Centre to develop a new tool to measure the success of care leavers. They will be working with young people who are leaving or have left care to better understand what success means to them and when they think success should be measured.
Organised by researchers Dr Nikki Luke and Dr Áine Kelly, this mixed-method study will investigate what ‘success’ means to a range of stakeholders. Central to the work will be gaining the perspective of care leavers and those just about to leave care. There will be four phases of work each developed with a care-experienced design group, named ‘Future of Care’, who will co-produce research materials and outputs, which are:
- Collect professional stakeholders’ views on the indicators of success, how they might be measured and how they might be used to improve services.
- Use focus groups in four local authorities to understand in much greater detail how care leavers think about ‘success’, how it might change during the lifespan, and how and where it might be measured.
- Incorporate all the findings into a tool that will be piloted in four local authorities and then adapted in response to feedback.
- Roll out the revised tool to 10 local authorities across England, analyse the findings and produce final reports.
The aims and objectives of the study are to gain a much better understanding of what ‘success’ means to care leavers and how it can be measured.
The study will address the following questions:
- How is success currently measured for care leavers?
- Do different stakeholders view success differently? Where do they agree and where do they differ? How does this affect what is measured?
- What does ‘success’ mean to young people who have recently left or will soon be leaving care?
- Who should measure success? How and when should it be measured?
The research is particularly relevant following the recent publication of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, in which five ambitious ‘missions’ were suggested to bring outcomes for care leavers in line with the rest of the population.
Kudzai Zimowa, a young care leaver in the design group of the project, says:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience on the Future of Care design group. It has been great working with other care-experienced young people to help define what success looks like for care leavers. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to work on a project that can make a material difference in the lives of many young people. Too often the narrative on what success means for care leavers is controlled by others. Become have done a great job in creating a collaborative space where care-experienced people can all share their perspective on what success looks like and hopefully rewrite the narrative.”
Katharine Sacks-Jones, CEO at Become, the national charity for children in care and young care leavers, says:
“If we are to ensure care leavers are offered the right support and opportunities to be happy and live fulfilling lives, we must know what ‘success’ really means to them.
Too often we make assumptions about what matters to young people without asking or listening to them. And so we focus on and measure certain outcomes without truly understanding what it means to that young person themselves to make a “successful” transition into adulthood.
This research will help us to address the gap of knowledge that exists in understanding the hopes and ambitions of young people in and leaving care. And it’s by hearing directly from young people that we can set meaningful measures for “success” going forward.”
Leon Feinstein, Professor of Education and Children’s Social Care and Director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, says:
“The concept of a ‘successful’ transition from childhood to adulthood is largely defined by traditional, formal routes to ‘success’ such as education and employment. Parents, carers, educators, policymakers, and other professionals all make assumptions about what a successful adult is and develop policies and practices to fit. This means that outcomes or success factors are at best assumed and imposed on young people, particularly for those in and/or leaving care.
Even where there are defined official measures of success for care leavers, the data is far from consistent and comprehensive. The government statistics that do exist only provide a partial picture of care leavers’ lives. They focus on objective measures and professional assessments i.e., whether the local authority is in touch with care leavers, if their accommodation is suitable, and if they are in education, employment, or training.
That’s why this research partnership is so important to help us understand how young people perceive their aspirations, personal achievements, and attainments. At the end of the 3-year project, we will have measures based on children in care and young care leavers’ own criteria for success which feels right, timely and much needed.”
For more information or to make a media enquiry, please contact Become’s Press & Media Officer, [email protected]
About Future of Care, the project’s research design group:
The Future of Care group, also known as the advisory group to help design and inform the project, has 12 young people involved from the ages of 21-25. Members will meet three times a year for three years.
Several of the young people are available for media interviews, please contact Suzy Barber, Become’s Press & Media Officer, for more info: [email protected]
Become is the national charity for children in care and young care leavers. For 30 years, the charity has stood shoulder to shoulder with care-experienced young people, helping them get the support they need right now and changing the system for future generations.
To find out more, visit www.BecomeCharity.org.uk/Future-Of-Care
About the Rees Centre
Established in 2012 within the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, the Rees Centre produces research evidence to inform policy and practice in the areas of children’s social care and education. We aim to improve the life chances and outcomes of those who are, or have been, supported by children’s social care services, with a focus on children in need (including those in care), those on the edge of care or leaving care, adoptive, foster, and special guardianship families, and care experienced adults. The primary audiences for the Centre’s work are children’s social care practitioners and managers, foster carers, adopters, guardians, schools, virtual schools, health, the judiciary, therapeutic services, policymakers, and other researchers. We have well-established relationships across the sector with both statutory and third sector organisations.
The Centre’s research has both national and international influence and provides evidence for the development of a wide range of policy initiatives to respond to diverse issues with an emphasis on those related to vulnerable children and their families. The Centre is committed to contributing to the social care evidence base, to ensure that all vulnerable children and families have the best possible life chances and achieve the best possible outcomes. Key project management, ethical and procedural practices are in place to ensure that research is conducted in a robust, cost-effective way that reduces the burden on research participants. The substantial and unique experience, expertise and insight offered by the Rees Centre will ensure that funders derive maximum value for their investment. The Rees Centre is led by Professor Leon Feinstein.