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Children, young people & familiesOur research

Below, you'll find some examples of ongoing and recent research projects. for details of individuals' research and publications, you can click on the person's name in the Meet our people section.

Young Europeans living in the UK have been impacted considerably by the decision for Britain to leave the European Union. ESRC-funded project, led by Daniela Sime, is the largest study of Eastern European young people aged 12-18, living in the UK, since the EU Referendum.

The research has involved over 1,200 young people through an online survey, focus groups and family case studies to explore their everyday experiences, sense of identity and belonging. Research findings are now available, together with policy briefings, available on the project website.

The team are available to deliver information and training events for organisations, service managers and the public across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, this research examined the role and perception of solicitors in the Children’s Hearings System. Including data collected from solicitors, social workers, panel members, reporters and other key informants, the research highlighted the challenges faced by all parties in the integration of legal representatives in the modernised Hearings System.

Undertaken in collaboration with the Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration, this project examined over 1,200 Hearing decisions and papers where a substantive contact direction was made, amended, or continued. The research looked at the recommendations and decisions made, as well as the representation of the views of parties concerned in Hearings paperwork.

This ongoing research involves qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the PACE programme, sponsored by the Scottish Government and implemented by the Permanence and Care Team in the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland. The PACE programme aims to reduce drift and delay in permanence processes for children, utilising an improvement approach to addressing challenges. The PACE programme is currently being implemented across Scotland.

Lifelong Links developed by Family Rights Group (FRG) is an innovative approach to supporting looked after children, young people, and their families. It addresses concerns about permanence and how the networks of children and young people in care become fragmented. This can lead to a lack of stability, identity and belonging, poor experiences and negative outcomes for the child and young person. Together with colleagues from the Rees Centre (Oxford University), CELCIS has been working with FRG as they develop the Lifelong Links model and consider how its effectiveness might be measured.

The Lifelong Links approach aims to identify and engage relatives and other supportive adults, including those who have been estranged or not yet known. By identifying adults who are willing to make a life-long commitment to the looked-after child, it is hoped to increase their sense of permanence, security, and wellbeing. It is hoped the resulting continuity and permanence of relationships will provide ongoing support, provide an explanation of historical events and reinforce identity, belonging and a sense of self for the young person.

Lifelong Links is now being piloted across England using funding from Department for Education (DfE). Additional funding sources from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation have been secured by the Family Rights Group (FRG) to allow the model to be piloted in three Scottish sites. The longitudinal mixed-method evaluation is now underway in collaboration with Dr Lisa Holmes (Director, Rees Centre) responsible for the English sites and Dr Louise Hill (Policy Lead, CELCIS) working with the Scottish Sites. The evaluation will conclude in 2023.

Within public policy, the principle has been established that siblings entering public care should be placed together, where this is possible and in the best interests of the children. However, in practice, sibling separation remains a common experience for children within the care system. Where children are placed separately from siblings, contact arrangements vary in terms of type, frequency, quality and availability of support. Sibling contact also tends to become less frequent over time. Dr Christine Jones of University of Strathclyde and Dr Gillian Henderson of the Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration are leading a study of the impact of care decisions on sibling relationships.

The research has involved an analysis of case files of children within the Children’s Hearings system in order to map the characteristics of sibling relationships of looked after children and to examine pathways through the system towards permanent placement in a fostering or adoptive family. A series of interviews with children in permanent placements, their siblings and their adoptive parents or permanent carers has also been undertaken. The findings from the study are of relevance to legal and child welfare professionals, policy makers, adopters and carers.

The study has led to the establishment of a new multi-agency collaboration made up of three universities and a number of child welfare, children’s rights and legal organisations within Scotland which aims to influence changes to the law, policy guidance, legal and welfare practices and the culture of organisations in order to protect the rights and promote the wellbeing of siblings in care. The Stand Up For Siblings initiative has received support from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP.