Feasibility Study on Conducting Longitudinal Research on Children in Care Published

Monday, 11 February 2019

Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway
Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway

A new report into the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal study on children in care or children leaving care within the Irish context has been published by Dr Carmel Devaney and Dr Cliona Rooney of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. This study was commissioned by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with the support of the Irish Research Council.

It arose from an action detailed in the Implementation Plan in response to the Ryan Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009). This study is based on interviews with researchers worldwide who have completed studies of this kind. It considers the financial and research challenges associated with completing research over time with children and young people who are in care or are about to leave care in Ireland. There are over just 6,000 children in care in Ireland with over 2,000 young people availing of aftercare services. A longitudinal study will provide, for the first time a comprehensive real time account of their experiences.

The study found that there is a need for:

  • An Irish longitudinal study on children in care to examine the experiences and outcomes of children and young people who have experienced the Irish care system (including residential and foster care) and to continue to trace this population as they progress out of care and/or aftercare and into early adulthood;
  • That there is a need to compare the outcomes of children in care with the general population of children and the importance of the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) study in this regard;
  • Awareness of the significant planning, governance, advisory, stakeholder buy-in and piloting phases required for such a project to ensure optimum implementation;
  • Awareness of methodological barriers and enablers such as data management issues including access to administrative data, retention and attrition, ethical considerations, engaging often hard to reach participants and the community throughout the duration of the study and project management;
  • A range of design and cost options to be considered and that longitudinal studies assist policy makers and service providers with data that focuses on the impact of childhood experiences on later outcomes.

Dr Carmel Devaney said: “A longitudinal study with children and young people in care would provide a critical understanding of the needs and experiences of children and young people in and leaving care in Ireland. We have very little information on this transition currently. The move between care and aftercare can be extremely difficult for young people. The usual challenges of leaving home can occur, but often, the young person does not have a stable background to lean on for support or a network of people to lean on for support.”

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla will use the findings of this feasibility study to consider the possibility of commissioning a study of this kind. Tusla’s Corporate Plan 2018 – 2020 makes provision within its Research function to ‘support the ongoing consideration for a future commission on a longitudinal study of children in care’.

For full report please see http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/media/unescochildandfamilyresearchcentre/documentspdf/Feasibility-Study-on-Longitudinal-Study-of-Children-In-Care-or-Leaving-Care-in-Ireland.pdf

-Ends-

Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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