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Department of Education

Research projects

Family Routes: Growing up in adoptive and Special Guardianship families

A new longitudinal study into the experiences, needs and outcomes of young people and their families.

Ecorys, the Rees Centre at University of Oxford, and Ipsos MORI have been appointed by the Department for Education to explore the potential of a seminal study to independently research the needs, experiences and outcomes for children and young people leaving care on Adoption Orders (AOs) and Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs). There is currently limited research around how these two routes to permanence affect children’s long-term outcomes as they progress into adolescence and adulthood.

The purpose of this new research is to help:
• assess the long-term outcomes for children growing up in adoptive and Special Guardianship families
• support improved outcomes for children by enhancing our understanding of what influences the support needs and outcomes for adoptive families and Special Guardianship families
• identify and support potential practice improvements in Local Authorities (LA), Regional Adoption Agencies (RAA) and Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAA); and
• support improved decision making by LAs and courts on permanency options for children who cannot return home to live with their birth parents.

Over the next six months, we will conduct a feasibility study to explore a suitable and viable methodology that will provide robust evidence. We will consider:
• The research questions that are most important to different stakeholders
• How best to reach young people and families, including the quality of contact details held by organisations
• How best to encourage young people and families to participate in the research
• The likelihood of accessing case files
• What concerns stakeholders might have about the study, and how these could be overcome.

As part of the feasibility study, we will consult with stakeholders from the adoption and Special Guardianship sector, as well as families and young people, to help inform the design of the research and make plans to pilot the next stage. This will involve a survey, one-to-one consultations and focus groups.

Over the course of the research, we hope to follow the lives of young people aged 12-21 growing up in adoptive and Special Guardianship families. The precise approach is to be determined following the initial feasibility study, but could include:
• Longitudinal surveys of young people and parents/carers, over multiple waves
• Longitudinal qualitative interviews with young people and families
• Analysis of case files
• Qualitative interviews with stakeholders
• Analysis of administrative data held on young people and families.

Final reporting is scheduled for 2028.

Research Team:

If you have any views about the study, you can contact the research team on:

Research Team

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