Aims and Objectives
The research has three objectives:
First, it will address the lack of large-scale, longitudinal quantitative studies in the UK examining the role of CLA status in predicting education and healthcare usage outcomes. This will be achieved by drawing on the resources of the Administrative Data Network (ADRN), who have approved this project, to combine the Wales Electronic Cohort for Children (WECC; a Wales-wide, inter-disciplinary dataset on education and healthcare usage), with national, routinely collected data on young people’s receipt of social services intervention, including histories of care for CLA. This will create a longitudinal cohort of young people, who completed Key Stage 4 in 2015 or 2016.
Second, it will reduce ambiguity over the extent to which poor outcomes among CLA are a result of pre-care childhood experiences, or negative experiences associated with being in care. This will be achieved firstly by comparing CLA with children who receive social services intervention but are not CLA (henceforth referred to as Children In Need, but Not Looked After (NLA)), in addition to general population comparisons. Whilst there are likely to be differences between these two groups that predict CLA status, there is increasing recognition within the literature that NLA may provide a more valid comparator to CLA than general population samples. Further, we will assess the extent to which between group differences are attenuated by a number of common predictors of receipt of social services intervention and entry to care (physical abuse, parental mental health illness and parental alcohol misuse), defined within recent research using routinely collected healthcare data within WECC. For the CLA vs NLA comparison (i.e. comparisons excluding the general population
sample), via routinely collected services intervention data, we will also examine the role of an additional experience, i.e. domestic abuse.
Third, whilst CLA status is often based on the assumption that removing young people from adversity will move them toward better life trajectories, this study will be the first to longitudinally examine the role of care in moderating effects of a range of pre-care experiences on education and healthcare usage outcomes. This will be achieved through investigating whether the relationship between adverse experiences and subsequent education and healthcare outcomes are intensified, or weakened by being taken into care. We will also contribute to the evidence base on how variability in experiences of care shapes outcomes.
The research will address the following questions:
1. Is CLA status associated with higher or lower education attainment and healthcare usage in comparison to i) NLA; ii) the
2. To what extent is the association of CLA status with education attainment and healthcare usage explained by prior
3. Does CLA status moderate the association of childhood experiences with educational attainment and healthcare usage?
4. Among CLA, how do experiences of care (i.e. age of entry to care, length of time in care, stability of care placements) impact on educational attainment and healthcare usage?