Testing the Shared Training and Assessment for Well-Being package (STrAWB)

Improving the emotional, social and psychological well-being of looked after children

Start date 1st October 2017 

Co-funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust and an anonymous donation.

This pilot project will test an innovative and potentially transformational approach to supporting the mental health and well-being of children who are looked after by the state (CLA, also known as children in care).

We have developed a training and assessment package for foster carers and schools (Shared Training and Assessment for Well-Being; STrAWB) that is designed to improve the early identification of potential mental health difficulties, allowing professionals to support children with differing profiles of social and emotional needs.  

The STrAWB package involves three key elements:

  1. integrated training on mental health for foster carers and Designated Teachers;
  2. home-based assessment by trained foster carers, based on observations of key signs and indicators of potential mental health difficulties;
  3. school-based assessment by school staff and the children themselves involving measures of social and emotional functioning.

The project is unique in bringing together professionals from social care and education to increase awareness of the early signs of potential mental health difficulties, and in creating an in-depth, 360-degree comprehensive child profile across the home and school contexts.  A mental health clinician will review all assessment measures, to create individual CLA profiles of strengths and needs. Feedback will be provided to foster carers, social workers, and Designated Teachers, allowing key adults to identify and respond to the needs of each individual CLA within both the home and school settings. The training and assessments have been co-developed with a range of stakeholders in a number of Local Authorities in England.

We will work with 25 CLA in school Years 4 and 5, from at least two Local Authorities. We will ask the Virtual Schools in these Authorities to identify schools that have CLA in our target year groups. The foster carers and Designated Teachers of these children will receive the joint training, and the full assessment approach will be completed at school and at home. Children will complete the measures during a normal school day and with a small group of classmates, to avoid feeling singled out.

Feedback will be provided on individual children’s needs, and any support strategies put in place will be monitored, to gain information on how professionals respond to individual profiles of need.

The project opens the door to valuable long-term follow-up work that can build new knowledge about the longitudinal trajectories of mental health characteristics in this vulnerable group, as well as the most effective intervention/support approaches.


Please direct questions on this research to Dr Nikki Luke or Prof Robin Banerjee

Project team:

Dr Nikki Luke, Principal Investigator, Rees Centre

Prof Robin Banerjee, co-Investigator, University of Sussex
Valerie Dunn, Rees Centre 
Helen Drew, University of Sussex
Prof Judy Sebba, Rees Centre