Growing Up in Kinship Care: Experiences as Adolescents and Outcomes in Young Adulthood

Executive Summary

Whilst there is a considerable literature on the difficulties faced by young people leaving local authority care, much less is known about how children who have been brought up in kinship care get on as they reach their late teens and early adulthood. Do they do better or worse than care leavers and how do they compare with young people in the general population? Answers to these questions are important since kinship care (where children are brought up by members of their extended family or friends) is the most common form of permanence for those who cannot live with their parents.

This is the first study in the UK to address these issues and was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and undertaken by Grandparents Plus. It examined the experiences and outcomes of young adults (aged 16-26) who had lived, or continued to live, in kinship care and compared these with the progress of care leavers and their peers in the general population. Since there have been concerns about the young age at which care leavers move to independent living, the study also considered the young people’s experience of transition to independence, or whether they remained living with kinship carers into early adulthood.

The research was based on a sample of young people known to three local authority Children’s Services departments (42% of the sample) or to Grandparents Plus, through their support network or other support groups (52%) or the Relative Experience project (6%)1. As in many kinship care studies, the sample over-represents grandparent carers and under-represents sibling carers and young people from ethnic minorities. Since it was difficult to recruit young people who were not in touch with their carers, it is likely to be biased in favour of more successful kinship care arrangements.

The 53 young people who were interviewed were aged 16-26 and had lived in kinship care for at least two years; 26 were male and 27 female. In addition, 43 kinship carers were interviewed, of whom 38 had brought up one or more of the young people we interviewed. (In 10 kinship families two siblings were interviewed). Standardised measures were used to determine the young people’s psychosocial functioning (the General Health Questionnaire or GHQ) and the parenting they felt they had received from their kinship carers (the Parental Bonding Instrument or PBI).

Published : 22nd January 2018*

Publisher : Grandparents Plus  [ More From This Publisher ]

Rights : Grandparents Plus

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