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The relationships and supports that matter to children looked after (CLA) in long term voluntary accommodation (Children Act 1989, s 20)

Bailey, Heather (2010) The relationships and supports that matter to children looked after (CLA) in long term voluntary accommodation (Children Act 1989, s 20).

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The overall aim of this practitioner-led research project was to explore relationships and conceptualisations of ‘permanence in foster care’ from the young person’s perspective. A multidimensional conceptualisation of permanence, with a focus on supportive networks, was used to identify the relationships that a group of looked after young people viewed as significant to them and to explore which relationship groups they accessed for social support. Participants were a convenience sample of six (two male, four female) young people (aged 13 – 16) who were voluntarily accommodated (Children Act 1989, s.20) in the long term care of the local authority. Four participants were living with foster carers and two were in residential homes. Participants constructed a personal network map, placing themselves at the centre of a concentric circles diagram and the names of the people in their support network in the surrounding circles. To ascertain participants’ perceptions of who provides what type of support, they were asked how they would respond in three scenarios that were designed to elicit specific measures of social support (affective support, self-affirmation, and instrumental assistance). The results showed that the young people considered a wide variety of relationships as important to them and were able to utilise a range of relationships as sources of social support. Significantly, despite their physical absence, sibling relationships were unanimously viewed as important and appeared to hold the potential to provide much support. This research suggests the potential value in moving beyond physical conceptualisations of permanence and instead adopting a systemic relationships-based approach, which recognises a young person’s entire social network. Recommendations for practice include providing support to strengthen all significant relationships, regardless of their physical presence. This research project hopes to highlight the potentially unique needs of voluntarily accommodated young people. The discussion suggests the importance of reinforcing the implementation of voluntary accommodation as it was intended, as “support for children and families” (Children Act 1989, part 3).

Item Type: Document from Web
Publisher: Children’s Workforce Development Council
Depositing User: Editor (1)
Date Deposited: 26 May 2011 16:22
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2012 18:22
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