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Confidence in Care

9 February 2016

father and son high five in park

Trial seeks to improve life chances of Wales’s looked after children

Improving the life chances of looked after children across Wales is the focus of a major new trial led by Cardiff University.

Recent figures from a foster charity show that around one in ten looked after children in the UK move placements three times or more in a single year.

Government data show that looked after children are four times more likely than their peers to have mental health issues, less likely than their peers to do well at school and sometimes experience further abuse or neglect whilst in care.

The ‘Confidence in Care’ trial is funded by the Big Lottery and aims to remedy this by helping looked after children to make a more successful transition to adulthood.

It will evaluate the effectiveness of a novel 12-week training course that delivers practical advice and strategies designed to enhance the relationship between carers and children.

The course is also geared towards improving how carers cope with their caring responsibilities and to increasing their care skills.

The success of the course - called ‘Fostering Changes’ - will be evaluated by analysing feedback from carers upon its completion.

It will also measure how well carers feel able to look after the children following their training and will factor in any unplanned moves and children’s reported engagement with education.

Trial director, Dr Michael Robling, from Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research, said:

“The trial is an exciting opportunity to rigorously test interventions in the social care sector and brings together expertise in trial methods and children's social care from across Cardiff University.”

By producing robust evidence about the longer-term effectiveness of the Fostering Changes course for foster and kinship carers, the trial will contribute to the international evidence base on improving outcomes for looked after children.

The trial aims to recruit 490 carers and will run to 2017. This comes at a time when there is increased pressure on numbers of foster carers.

For this year around 9,070 new foster families are needed across the UK to provide stable, loving care for children, according to the Fostering Network.

Confidence in Care is a consortium of the leading organisations working with fostered and looked after children in Wales and across the UK and includes Cardiff University, The Fostering Network, Action for Children, Barnardo’s and TACT.