New study to explore switch to online communication with care-experienced young people

A new research project has been launched to investigate how COVID-19 and lockdown measures have affected ‘family time’ and the move to online communication with care-experienced children and young people.

11/05/21

New study to explore switch to online communication with care-experienced young people

New research will investigate the move to online communication during lockdown and how this has affected care-experienced children and young people.

The project, which is funded by the Department for Education and led by South Tyneside Council in collaboration with Gateshead-based organisation Blue Cabin, will also focus on how family time has been delivered during lockdown, and how local authorities can ensure that the voices of children in care councils are still being heard.

Researchers say they will examine along two themes: ‘Compass’, which will look at the role of children in care councils and how they are representing children in care and care leavers; and ‘Time Together’, which will focus on family time.

The research will take place until summer 2021 and includes input from 12 local authorities. Researchers say the findings will be shared in the form of creative outputs by children and young people working in partnership with Blue Cabin’s team of associate artists, a knowledge-sharing event, and academic reports.

Jenny Young, Director of Blue Cabin said that most of the initial research carried out in this area was focused on professionals’ perspective.

“We know that, in March 2020, most children and young people had their family time – children’s supervised contact time with their birth families – moved to online platforms like Zoom or Whatsapp,” Young said, adding: “Research has been carried out into how effective this has been from the point of view of social workers, foster carers and birth families, however, none of the research has centred the voices of young people themselves.”

“We are working with a team of professional artists and researchers to help children and young people tell their stories of how lockdown and the move to online communication has affected them.”

“We hope that, through this research, we can share what care-experienced children and young people have to say about their own experiences of lockdown, and how it’s impacted their lives and relationships. And through sharing what we learn with the wider sector, we want to give local authorities, foster carers and other adults in these young people’s lives the knowledge to support care-experienced children and young people throughout the pandemic and beyond.”

Both ‘Compass’ and ‘Time Together’ are funded through the Department for Education’s Partners in Practice programme.

Shona Gallagher, Director of Children’s Services at South Tyneside Council, said the research will help local authorities to find out what they do well, and what they can do better to support care-experienced children and their families if a similar situation arises again.

“As a Partner in Practice we have a role to play in raising standards for children and young people both in the Borough and elsewhere across the UK. The findings from this research will allow us to understand in even more detail how the pandemic has impacted the lives of care-experienced children and young people and develop strategies to improve their experiences going forward.”

The research findings will be shared on Blue Cabin’s website: www.wearebluecabin.com

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