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Permanently Progressing?

This study is exploring experiences and outcomes for children accommodated before age 5 in Scotland who go on to be placed permanently away from their birth parents.

The research project is a collaboration between the Universities of StirlingYork, and Lancaster, and Adoption and Fostering Alliance (AFA) Scotland

  • Research team

    Dr Helen Whincup: (Principal Investigator and author). Helen is a Lecturer at University of Stirling, teaching primarily on the post-qualifying Masters in Applied Professional Studies (Child Welfare and Protection) and the Professional Supervision module. She is a qualified social worker with a practice background in children and families work, and practice and personal experience of adoption. Helen was involved in focus groups and interviews.

    Professor Nina Biehal: (Co Principal Investigator and author). Nina is a professor of social work at the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, and was formerly a social worker. She has led a number of studies of outcomes for children who are fostered, adopted, in residential care or reunified with their parents. She has also completed studies of child protection, including research on abuse in foster and residential care and a comparative study of child protection systems in three countries.

    Dr Linda Cusworth: (Co-Investigator and author). Linda is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University.  She is an experienced quantitative social researcher, and has worked as a researcher in child wellbeing, child protection and family justice for around 15 years. She has a passion for the use of administrative data and linked data in family justice research.

    Dr Maggie Grant: (Research Fellow and author). Maggie has worked in adoption and fostering research for 10 years. She is a Research Associate and Co-Founder at Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland, and was seconded to University of Stirling as part of the Permanently Progressing research team.

    Cheryl Bugess: (Research Fellow and co-author). Cheryl was full time Research Fellow with the research team until her retirement from University of Stirling at the beginning of 2017. Cheryl is a qualified social worker with a practice background in adoption and fostering. Cheryl recently co-authored the book Effective Family Support: Responding to what parents tell us (Dunedin Press). Cheryl was involved in focus groups and interviews.

    Dr Andressa Gadda: (Research Fellow and co-author). Andressa was employed by the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection and conducted interviews and focus groups with Reporters and members of Children’s Hearings.  Andressa is now employed as the Head of Policy and Research at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

    Professor Brigid Daniel: (Principal Investigator between 2014 – spring 2017, co-author).  Brigid was Director of the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection at University of Stirling. Brigid published widely on child development, children’s resilience and child neglect. She is a qualified social worker. Brigid left University of Stirling to take up a post as Dean of the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

    Dr Alison Hennessy: (Co-author). Alison is an educational researcher with a strong interest in the education of looked after children.  She became a lecturer in education at University of Stirling in 2018, when she also became the newest member of the Permanently Progressing team.  Alison contributed to quantitative data analysis for the study.

    Jade Hooper: (Research Assistant and co-author). Jade is a Research Assistant and PhD Candidate based in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Stirling. She previously worked on a large, UK four-nation Nuffield Foundation funded project investigating child welfare inequalities and has experience in quantitative research and methodologies and the handling of sensitive administrative data. Jade was involved with the quantitative analysis of the Children Looked After Statistics and the Scottish Children's Reporter Administrative data.

    Dr Marina Shapira: (Co-author). Marina is a Lecturer at the University of Stirling. Her research includes the analysis of immigration labour market impact, ethnic socio-economic inequalities; attainment gap between migrant and non-migrant children; the role of educational qualifications in socio-economic mobility; the role of school curriculum choices in reproducing social inequalities in educational outcomes. Marina was involved with the quantitative analysis of the Children Looked After Statistics.

  • Project updates

    Phase one of the study ran from October 2014 to December 2018.  It investigated decision-making, permanence, progress, outcomes and belonging for a large cohort (1,836 children) of all children in Scotland who became looked after in 2012-13, when they were aged five or under. Using national data from the Children Looked After Statistics (CLAS) we analysed children’s progress over four years (2012-2016). The study is the first to compare pathways and outcomes for such a large cohort of young children in Scotland, and is designed to be the first phase in a longitudinal study tracking children’s progress into adolescence and beyond.

    The study had five strands and there is a report for each strand:

    Pathways to Permanence for children who become looked after in Scotland: This analysed the CLAS data for 1836 children over four years. The report presents detailed information on their routes to permanence and the timescales.

    Linking two administrative data sets about looked after children: Testing feasibility and enhancing understanding: Data on children is collected by the Scottish Government (CLAS data) and by Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration (SCRA). For the first time this study linked CLAS and SCRA data on 1000 children. This reports describes the process and the findings.

    Children looked after away from home aged five and under in Scotland: experiences, pathways and outcomes: This presents findings from detailed questionnaires (433 social workers and 166 carers) alongside the CLAS data. It provide valuable information about the circumstances of children and their families before they were accommodated, their pathways, current status and current wellbeing.

    Decision making for children: 160 decision makers across Scotland (including social workers, members of Children’s Hearings and Reporters to the Children’s Hearing) were interviewed about their perspectives on decision making.

    Perspectives on kinship care, foster care and adoption: the voices of children, carers and adoptive parents: 20 carers and adoptive parents were interviewed, and 10 children aged 3-9 years participated in ‘play and talk’ about their experiences.

  • Reports

    Permanently Progressing? – Building secure futures for children in Scotland

    Project update - September 2018

    Project update - March 2017

    Project update - June 2016

    Project update - April 2016

  • Recordings
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