The reunification of looked after children with their parents: Patterns, interventions and outcomes
- Funder: Department for Children, Schools and Families
- Lead applicant: Professor Elaine Farmer
- Co-researcher: Wendy Sturgess, Teresa O'Neill, Paula Morris and Pat Lees
- Dates: February 2003-January 2006
- Research centre: Family Policy and Child Welfare
The first part of the study will be conducted in four local authorities through an analysis of the case files of 300 children returned to a parent from care during a one-year period. A range of data will be recorded over a two-year follow-up period from the index return.
In the second part of the study, from this sample two groups of 50 children will be identified for comparison (100 in all), the first will have experienced successful and the second failed returns on the study's outcome measures. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the children, their parents and social workers on the decisions, management, support and progress of the returns and their endings.
Multivariate analysis of these data will provide detailed information about reunification outcomes, patterns of return within childrens' care histories and the key factors that distinguish successful from unsuccessful reunification. They will also show which factors lead to some children oscillating in and out of care and the characteristics of children and families for whom return is highly problematic. The interviews with children and parents will explore the impacts of reunification experiences including repeated failed return, the understandings formed about these and what interventions helped to reduce any negative effects.
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