Family Routes: Growing up in adoptive and Special Guardianship families

If you would like to join the study or have any questions, you can contact the research team on: or  go directly to the website to register


Ecorys, the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, and Ipsos have been appointed by the Department for Education to undertake a seminal study to understand the needs, experiences and outcomes for children and young people  ( age 12-25 years) 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 through adolescence and into early adulthood.

The purpose of this new research is to help:
• assess the longer-term outcomes for young people who are growing up in adoptive and Special Guardianship families
• support improved outcomes for children and young people by enhancing our understanding of the support needs and experiences of adoptive families and Special Guardianship families during adolescence and in the transition to adulthood
•  provide better evidence to support improved decision making by LAs and courts on the different permanency options for children who cannot return home to live with their birth parents.

The study has been divided into different phases because many of the families the study is trying to reach are no longer in contact with Children’s Services or adoption agencies. The new identities created through adoption also makes this group particularly difficult to identify. The first phase was a feasibility study that explored whether local authorities, agencies, and charities would support the study and whether young people and their parents/carers felt the study should go ahead and the issues they wanted included in the research.  Although, professionals were supportive many organisations did not have the contact details of families who were not currently receiving services.   Young people too thought the study was important and wanted education, stigma/bullying, and mental health to be included in the topics. Their parents/carers were keen that the context of caring was included (housing, finance etc).

Phase two begins early in 2023 when online surveys will be launched in the pilot area of West Yorkshire.   Young people (12-25yrs) and parents/carers who agree to take part in the study will be able to choose to complete the online/paper survey or have an interview or both.  We will be testing whether we can bring parents/carers, young people and young adults into the study and checking whether the questions we are asking  are the best ones to answer the research questions and whether the measures selected are appropriate.   We have been helped by PAC-UK (  and Kinship ( who have facilitated two groups: one of young people and the other of parents/carers.  These groups will continue to advise and help the research team throughout the study.


Rachel Blades – Project Manager, Ecorys UK

Sarah Knibbs  –  Co-Investigator, Ipsos

Julie Selwyn – Co-Investigator, Rees Centre