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What is the purpose of the study?

The purpose of this study is to describe and analyse the use of mobile phones in relation to contact between children in care and their family and friends. The study seeks to understand this issue from the perspectives of children and young people, their carer’s and other people who have a say in your child’s life.

Why have I been invited?

You have been invited to take part in this study because you have experiences that may enable you to present a unique and valuable perspective on the issues of mobile phone use and contact for children living in care.

Do I have to take part?

No, you do not have to take part in this research. It is up to you to decide. To help you make an informed decision we recommend that you read the supporting information on the study before making up your mind. What if I change my mind? We would hope that you would continue to support this research once you have consented to do so however, if you do change your mind and decide to withdraw your consent, you may do so at any time.

Will my taking part in the study be kept confidential?

Yes, all information gathered during the course of the research will be kept strictly confidential. We will ensure that the information gathered is stored securely, coded anonymously and presented in a way that the identity of any individual cannot be disclosed outside the research site. The procedures for handling, processing, storage and destruction of data gathered in this study are compliant with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Q.U.B. Data Protection Policy.

What will happen to me or my child if we take part?

If you agree to take part, you will be asked to fill in and return the attached questionnaire. If permission is granted for the child you look after to take part, they will also receive a questionnaire in the post. We would ask that you allow the child to complete their questionnaire in private, and if you are responsible for returning the completed questionnaire, to do so without reading it.

Who should complete the questionnaire?

Foster carers, we acknowledge that there are many diverse family types in Northern Ireland and that it would be unrealistic to try and develop a questionnaire that would do everyone justice, therefore we ask that you decide amongst your family who has the main caring role for the children, and that they fill in the questionnaire. Only children and young people over the age of 10, born before the 31st of March 2000, should fill in a questionnaire and only young people aged 13 and over can take part in follow up interviews or focus groups.

What are you going to be asking the children?

If permission is granted, the child you look after will be given a questionnaire that has been developed specifically for distribution to children and young people taking part in this study. They will not be asked to give any information which they do not wish to give, they will have the right to refuse to take part or withdraw at any time and if they report anything that might make the researchers think that he/she or another young person is at risk of harm, the researcher will report those concerns to the local Trust safeguarding team who will initiate appropriate safeguarding protocols

What are the possible disadvantages and risks of taking part?

We are aware that, for some people, we might ask questions that may touch on sensitive issues for them and the child they look after, therefore if you do not want to answer certain questions that will be fine. You should be reassured that you can skip any question you do not wish to answer. Taking part in this research will not affect your placement or any services that you or the child you look after receives.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

The research provides you with an opportunity to contribute to a process of sharing knowledge, experiences and needs, regarding mobile phone use and contact arrangements for children living in care. The findings will be widely shared and should help in the development of policy, advice and good practice regarding mobile phone usage and contact during the placement of young people in care in Northern Ireland.

What if there is a problem?

We would hope that you find your research experience a pleasant and rewarding one, however if you have a concern that cannot be addressed by or is in respect of the researcher please contact: Professor Geraldine Macdonald, Director, Institute of Child Care Research, 6 College Park, Belfast, BT7 1LP,, phone: 02890971489.

Who is organising and funding the research?

This research is funded by the Health and Social Care: Public Health Agency and is being carried out by specialised, vetted research staff based at the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s University Belfast.

Contact Information

Clive Robinson
Institute of Child Care Research
Queen's University Belfast
6 College Park

Tel: 028 9097 5312



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