What Works for Kinship Care and Special Guardianship Orders will evaluate the impact of local authority policies and interventions to identify and provide support to Kinship Foster Carers and Special Guardians on both the number of such placements and children’s outcomes.
The project will be initiated in three phases. The first phase will analyse local authority level variation in the use of kinship care. The second phase will use surveys and interviews to map out different strategies and support available to kinship carers in local authorities in England. The third and final phase will evaluate the impact of these strategies on the number of kinship care placements and outcomes for children.
Our previous analysis of kinship care found a high degree of local variation in the use of kinship foster care placements and kinship Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) across local authorities. In response to this, during phase one we are conducting further research to examine this high degree of regional variation in the proportion of children in kinship foster placements relative to other placement types to understand which factors may correlate with a high share of kinship care placement in local authorities.
During phase two, our aim is to identify the policies and services implemented across all English local authorities to support kinship carers. This will be established through a nationwide survey sent to local authorities, which will seek to map out the support, including financial, legal and therapeutic, available for kinship carers in different types of arrangements, including special guardians. The survey will be followed up with interviews with professionals from local authorities to gain a better understanding of the interventions and strategies in place to support kinship carers.
By the end of phase two, we hope to have a better understanding of the variation in types and levels of support offered to different types of kinship care arrangements across England.
Ultimately, the project aims to determine the impact of what local authorities do to increase the rate of, and provide support to, kinship foster carers and special guardians on both the rate of such placements and children’s outcomes. A rapid evidence summary of the literature on kinship care has shown that such research has not been carried out before in the UK or elsewhere. Our work in phase three will address this gap by evaluating the impact of strategies currently in place.
The findings of the survey will help increase the evidence base on what works to support kinship carers and extend our understanding of how kinship carers are best supported to improve outcomes for children and families and their experiences of kinship care.