Rees Centre webinar-Integrating Research and Practice

More than 30 people, among them social workers, teachers, managers, researchers and foster carers, participated in the interactive online session led by Nikki and Judy on 1 July 2014.   Webinar recording (.wmv file)

Judy Sebba full width

What issues in your work could research help to address? 

You raised quite a number of issues! Scroll down the page to see answers from the Rees Centre directing you to specific research that we know about.
Bottom of the page.

How can we make sure that research informs practice? (Nikki & Judy)

You responded:

The research needs to be packaged in a variety of different ways depending on the audience- for leaders, managers, practitioners, service users, etc. Accessibility according to role is key.

Advice on developing learning resources –

It’s a big job in itself, and there’s lots of learning on translation and implementation from UK and wider world that can inform approaches.

Dissemination through organisations like The Fostering Network.

We need researchers who use words everybody can understand…

Using different media and involving practitioners, caregivers etc at different stages to ensure that resources are accessible, informative. Innovation is key.

I like the EEF Toolkit on Pupil Premium – clear links to what works, signposting to pieces of research etc…

we need communication between practitioners and researchers (workshops).

appealing to many different learning styles is vital also.

How to join the discussion
Post your comments below. We welcome your ideas and feedback to extend this discussion as widely as possible.

Back to blog

26 responses to “Rees Centre webinar-Integrating Research and Practice”

  1. SallyW says:

    How can research help to address the effects on children when only 1 child is removed?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: We are in the early stages of a project working with the Siblings Together charity. We are looking at the well-being of siblings who have been separated in care, and how this might change due to being involved in a scheme that brings them together for monthly social activities. There may well be children in our sample who have been removed when their siblings haven’t, and this might come up in their interviews, though we have not set out to investigate this issue specifically.
      Other research: There is no research that focuses specifically on families where only one child is removed. There is some previous evidence about the effects on children who have been placed in care separately from their siblings Research on children outside of care is relevant here: for example, there is work suggesting that children’s well-being can be affected if they feel they are rejected by their parents, and other research showing that if children think they are treated differently to a sibling in terms of receiving less parental support, they are more likely to have behavioural issues. So it would certainly be interesting to find out whether these sorts of thoughts and beliefs were at play for children who had entered care and left their siblings behind.
      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  2. SallyW says:

    Placement disruptions – how can we work to sustain placements through periods of stress and difficulty?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: We are not doing any research directly addressing placement disruptions. Many of our current studies do cover placement disruption as part of the research, in particular the ones on foster carer peer support, the Siblings Together scheme and the pilot study on the impact of allegations against foster carers. See our review of the research evidence on peer support between carers or the shorter Key Messages briefing for details of how helping foster carers to support each other (through for example mentoring schemes, foster carer groups that take account of carers’ needs, or ‘hub and constellation’ fostering arrangements that provide planned and emergency respite) might help to reduce placement disruptions.

      Other research: Ian Sinclair’s book on ‘Foster Placements: Why they Succeed and Why they Fail’ is an excellent account of a major English study on this topic.

      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  3. SallyW says:

    How to work with birth family?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: This topic is not part of any current Rees Centre research projects.
      Other research: There is some existing research on effective ways of working with birth families, either to reduce the number of children taken into care or to increase the chances of successful re-unification. The Incredible Years training programme for foster carers has also been adapted in one research project to include ways of ‘co-parenting’ with birth families.

      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  4. SallyW says:

    What evidence exists on the impact of contact with abusive birth parents?

  5. SallyW says:

    Attachment disorder and possible links to language development and access to the curriculum ?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: This topic is not part of any current Rees Centre research projects.
      Other research: The link between looked-after children’s attachment difficulties and their education is an under-researched topic. We need to be careful to differentiate between ‘attachment disorders’ (diagnosable clinical conditions, i.e. Reactive and Disinhibited Attachment Disorders, RAD and DAD) and the ‘problematic’ attachment behaviours that may be seen in children who have been maltreated, such as rejection of or ambivalence towards caregivers. It has been suggested that attachment and educational outcomes might be linked because children with attachment problems are less able to regulate their own emotions and behaviour. But we know very little about these links in looked-after children.
      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  6. SallyW says:

    Educational outcomes – particularly ‘writing’?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: We have recently started a study funded by the Nuffield Foundation in which we are looking at how children’s histories in care and education in England are linked to differences in their GCSE results. Analysis of the data is at an early stage, and we hope to report on our findings in early 2015. However, we will not have information on young people’s writing ability as this is not something that children receive a separate ‘score’ for at GCSE age.
      Other research: Our Doctoral student Aoife O’Higgins has been reviewing the evidence on the factors that contribute to better or worse educational outcomes for children in care. We hope to publish a review of Aoife’s findings in early 2015. Again, most of the studies in the review do not give separate results for writing as opposed to other academic abilities. In England, the DfE produces national reports on the educational attainment of looked-after children, which includes writing abilities at school Key Stages 1 and 2; the latest findings can be found at
      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  7. SallyW says:

    How to prevent children entering care?

  8. SallyW says:

    The impact of training on foster carers’ day to day practice. What works, what doesn’t?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: This topic is not part of any current Rees Centre research projects.
      Other research: Training is an interesting area in which there have been a number of studies and reviews, but the evidence is not clear-cut. We know training is important but we don’t know much about how to do it most reliably and to greatest effect. For a good overall review of carer training see

      We are currently finalising a review for the NSPCC that includes carer training to support children’s behavioural and emotional well-being – look out for further details of this on our website in the next few weeks.

      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  9. SallyW says:

    Special risks and special recourses of kinship care.

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: We are not specifically researching kinship care, though a number of those taking part in our projects are kinship carers.
      Other research: The Hadley Centre does a great deal on this – see for example: . The Hadley Centre’s work suggests that as a group, kinship carers, especially informal ones, are likely to be worse off financially, and are less likely to get effective support.

      If you know about other research on this topic, please comment below.

  10. SallyW says:

    Research into the impact of different interventions with organisations to create change or improvement in outcomes for looked after children?

    • SallyW says:

      Note: We have assumed that our participant was referring to educational outcomes, though they may have meant other types of outcomes such as well-being or employment.
      Rees Centre work: The Rees Centre is doing an evaluation of foster carer training that supports children’s education across some parts of London. This is funded by the Greater London Authority and is only just beginning. Our Nuffield-funded work on educational outcomes for looked-after children will examine the role of the Virtual School in helping children to ‘get on’ at school.
      Other research: There are several papers reviewing interventions – for a recent example see

      • SallyW says:

        From Aoife O’Higgins, Rees doctoral student: – In terms of interventions for educational outcomes, I think the best papers to look at are the reviews by Forsman and Vinnerljung (2012) and Liabo et al. (2012) – both very accessible and lots of references to interventions to look at in more detail.

        A number of interventions have been developed to address the poor educational outcomes of children in care. These include tutoring interventions (e.g. Flynn et al., 2012; Harper & Schmidt, 2012), reading interventions (e.g. Griffiths, 2012), residential schools (e.g. Jones & Lansdverk, 2006) and others. One systematic review (Liabo et al., 2012), a scoping review (Forsman & Vinnerljung, 2012) and one research review (Brodie, 2009) have attempted to determine the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving the educational outcomes of children in care. The intervention studies included in these reviews do not completely overlap. They all report mixed results and conclude that the interventions lack an explicit theory of change and in some cases a strong evidence base.
        Two systematic reviews assess the effectiveness of single interventions – kinship care (Winokur, Holtan, & Batchelder, 2014) and multidimensional treatment foster care (Macdonald & Turner, 2008) – and report on educational outcomes among others.
        MacDonald and Turner (2007) found that girls in multi-dimensional treatment foster care (MTFC) had higher levels of attendance and improved homework completion compared to children in care who were not in MTFC. They found no statistically significant differences for children’s attendance, exclusions, drop out rates and school changes.
        Winokur et al. (2014) compared the outcomes of children in kinship care and in other placement types. Educational attainment was examined as a secondary outcome. The review found (this only included studies that could be brought together in meta-analysis) that the overall effect size favoured children in kinship care, but this difference was not statistically significant.

  11. SallyW says:

    Respite for foster carers: has the impact on children of going to respite carers on a regular basis been researched?

    • SallyW says:

      Rees Centre work: This topic is not part of any current Rees Centre research projects.
      Other research: Respite is addressed in our review of the evidence on foster carer support, through the evaluations of the Mockingbird Family Model (‘hub and constellations’) in the US: . The evidence reported suggests that having both planned and emergency respite is a key component of the scheme’s success in terms of retention of carers and placement stability. Some areas of England are considering trying out this model.

  12. SallyW says:

    What research has been done about the effects of young people excluded from school on placement stability?

  13. Eavan Brady says:

    Hi there, I mentioned the organization I work with in Toronto – Practice and Research Together ( – on last week’s webinar. We are a knowledge mobilisation organisation aiming to build capacity among practitioners and organisations in child welfare to use evidence in their practice. We do this a number of ways, one is through the variety of resources we produce.

    While most of these resources are only available to members, our ‘Research Radio’ series (similar to IRISS.FM) is open to non-members. It is a podcast series that features one-on-one interviews with leading child welfare researchers and aims to personalise and demystify the research process while focusing on key findings and implications of research for the listener.

    If anyone would like to listen just click here!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *