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Understanding Permanence for Looked After Children: a review of research for the Care Inquiry

This briefing paper reviews research relevant to understanding permanence for children who are ‘looked after’ under the auspices of the Children Act 1989. It aims to inform the objectives of the Care Inquiry, a collaboration between eight specialist charities which was established in 2012 to investigate how best to provide stable and permanent homes for children in England who cannot live with their birth parents (whether temporarily or permanently).

Government policy for many years has highlighted the importance for children of ‘a sense of security, continuity, commitment and identity’ through childhood and beyond (Department for Education 2010a, p12). But how can we ensure this sense of permanence and belonging for all children who become looked after?