Dr Rebecca Anthony
Dr Rhiannon Evans, Dr Kelly Morgan
There are currently over 80,000 children and young people living in local authority care in England and Wales.
Research suggests that half of care-experienced children and young people have clinically significant mental health issues. As mental health issues are linked to causing the person distress as well as poor health and education outcomes it is a significant social care and public health concern.
Children and young people are most likely to do well in an environment where difficulties are minimised, and warm supportive relationships are experienced. However, many children in care experience changes to placement, resulting in new carers and environments, such as school. Supportive relationships are associated with better mental health and wellbeing; however, we know very little about children and young people’s experiences of relationships, especially among care-experienced children and young people.
Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of this fellowship is to produce an evidence base about care-experienced children and young people’s social support and perceptions of relationships and their association with mental health and wellbeing.
The fellowship will address the following research questions:
1. What types of social support and relationships are available to care-experienced CYP?
2. How do young people perceive the quality of social support and their relationships?
3. Have young people’s perceptions of relationships changed over time? and are relationships associated with MHW?
The mixed-method study comprises of five inter-related work packages.
1. Review the international research available about social support and relationships for care-experienced children and young people and their associations with mental health and wellbeing
2. Speak to care-experienced children and young people about their experiences of social support and relationships, particularly aspects they found most helpful or harmful to their mental health and wellbeing
3. Investigate if care-experienced children and young people’s perceived relationships with carers, friends and teachers have changed over a ten-year period (2017 – 2026)
4. Explore how relationships with carers, peers and teachers connect to each other and how they impact mental health and wellbeing
5. Examine if positive relationships can moderate the relationship between experiences prior to and during care and later mental health and wellbeing symptoms, diagnoses, and outcomes
Involving the public: Two groups of care-experienced children and young people across the UK and a recruited group of foster and kinship carers will be involved throughout the study. They will help
with issues such as what to ask in interviews, what data are most important to look at and how to share the findings.
Promoting the findings: Findings will be given to the public, researchers, local authority organisations and relevant charities through conference presentations, webinars, podcasts, summary findings and academic publications. We hope to also get additional funding to design an animation with children and young people to share widely.
1st October 2023
30th September 2027