30 March 2017: News round-up
FOSTERING PROVIDERS should focus on recruiting carers with the space to house sibling groups and give these carers additional support and training – including on sibling conflict resolution, the Rees Centre for research on fostering and education suggests. Local authorities have had a duty to place siblings together as far as reasonably practicable since the passing of the 2008 Children and Young Persons Act, but there has been limited research to date on the impact of doing so. The centre’s review of existing studies on siblings in foster care mainly from the US indicated that placing siblings together was linked to greater placement stability and early reunification with families. By contrast older children separated from siblings after initially being in the same foster home, were found to be at particular risk of placement disruption and a poor sense of belonging in the foster family. In one study sibling groups and their carers who received an eight week training programme aimed at reducing conflict and promoting parental mediation in the sibling relationship increased the likelihood of the children going into a permanent placement together.
A WEBSITE dedicated to helping professionals set up, facilitate and support post-adoption contact with birth families is being run by Research in Practice following a research programme led by Professor Beth Neil at the University of East Anglia who was interviewed for the Guardian. Among the recommendations of the East Anglia research were reminders to adoption services to challenge traditional approaches to adoption contact (such as simple letterbox contact) and the need to recognise and adapt to the fact that birth families’ feelings about contact changed over time.
THE US Chronicle for Social Change reflects on different approaches to foster carer recruitment, in particular the You Gotta Believe scheme in in New York which has taken a different approach to the usual foster carer recruitment process. Instead of finding a home for an older child with a carer not known to them, they start by asking the child for names of adults that he or she already gets along with and then contact that person to see what potential support they could provide.
ALWAYS HAVING support from an adult that you trust in childhood can significantly reduce the damage done by adverse childhood experiences on a person’s physical and mental health, according to research published in BMC Psychiatry. While the link between adverse childhood experiences and ensuing poor health has been well-documented there had previously been very limited evidence as to how much the continuing support of a trusted adult could help mitigate health harming behaviours, the researchers said.
LOOKED AFTER children perform slightly better than children in need at key stage 2 but were less likely than children in need to receive a minimum of C grade GCSEs in English and Maths, according to the government’s educational data on looked after children to end of March 2016. The data showed that looked after children are less likely to be classified as persistent absentees from school than all children and much less likely than children in need.
AND FINALLY, the National Children’s Bureau has called for the definition of children missing education to be broadened to include those who are on “unsuitable part-time timetables” which it found were sometimes wrongly used as a way of managing challenging behaviour. In November the Victoria Derbyshire programme reported on some of the information obtained by the NCB for its final report, in particular that 4,000 children went missing from education in a single year and were never found (TWiF 6 December 2016).
Photo by Jordan Whitt.