The Care Pathways and Outcomes Study aims to explore placements for all children who were under five years old and in public care in Northern Ireland on 31st March 2000 (n=374). This included foster care placements, adoption, or the placement of children with their birth parents. The study has also sought to determine parents’ views on how these children were managing.
The current phase of the study (2006-2009), Care Pathways and Outcomes: the Children’s Perspective, examines the children’s own views on issues such as family, attachment relationships, self-concept, school, and sense of belonging; and their parents/carers views on issues such as the child's behaviour, supports and contact.
Two phases of data collection have been completed:
Phase 1: Care Pathways and Outcomes: Multiple Placements (2000-2003) examined the placement histories and outcomes for these 374 young children, and the factors which may influence the type of placement that the children are provided with. More specifically, Event History Analysis models were developed, using data from SOSCARE (Social Work Administrative Placement Records) and social work case files over the period 2000-2002, to examine the type of factors that influence which type of placement children end up in.
Phase 2: Care Pathways and Outcomes: The Carers’ Perspective (2003-2006) focused upon the views and experiences of a sub-sample of the children’s current carers (n=53 adoption, n=56 long-term foster care, n=9 return home) gathered through semi-structured interviews, in terms of social services involvement in the child’s life; stresses involved in caring for the child; how the child settled in the placement and at school; supports available to the family; and contact arrangements. This also involved gathering quantifiable perspectives on how the children were getting on, via Goodman’s (1997) Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire(SDQ), and the stresses involved in the parent-child relationship, via Abidin’s (1990) Parenting Stress Index (PSI).
Findings from these two previous phases are summarized in our three reports:
1. From Care to Where? A Care Pathways and Outcomes Report for Practitioners
2. From Care to Where? A Care Pathways and Outcomes Report for Parents
3. From Care to Where? A Care Pathways and Outcomes Report for Children and Young People