We 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 study will investigate what ‘success’ means to a range of ‘stakeholders’, like professionals and local authorities. Central to the work will be hearing directly from care leavers and young people who are just about to leave care.
What’s more, there will be four phases of work during the project, each developed with a care-experienced design group, named ‘Future of Care’, who will co-produce research materials and outputs.
The Future of Care group has 12 young people involved from the ages of 21-25 who will meet three times a year for three years. We want to say a big thank you to all the young people who are involved.
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.”