Growing up in kinship care

This study aims to analyse and summarise what is currently happening for children living in kinship care, where a formal decision has been made that a child should live with a relative separate from their parent(s). We hope that the knowledge generated by the study will contribute to evaluating and fulfilling legal and policy commitments to prevention and early intervention, and to the promotion and facilitation of nurturing, stable care arrangements for children.


This study will progress two objectives:

  1. Increased knowledge of the characteristics, circumstances and outcomes of children living in formal kinship care and the requirements that welfare, universal, and targeted services should meet, in the context of the statutory duties focused on promoting the safety, health, education and wellbeing of all children.
  1. Construct a feasible approach to the sampling, structuring and analysis of an established linked dataset, to foster the potential for its routine application as part of a future annual statistical bulletin produced by government.

Research focus

  1. What are the levels of formal kinship care usage in the most recent year, including overall proportions of children looked after, regional patterns, and length of time looked after? How do these differ over time?
  2. What are the routes into formal kinship care? On what basis and for what reasons are children formally looked after in kinship care (as defined in looked after children legal reasons, hearings grounds data and child protection primary concerns data)?
  3. How do children fair when living in kinship care? (Using measures of childhood developmental milestones only available for younger children, protection concerns for children, measures relating to placement stability and continuity of care for children, educational attendance, attainment and exclusion).
  4. What are the pathways out of formal kinship care? How do these differ over time?


Data this research aims to link and analyse

The dataset combined for analysis will include data variables derived from the following statistical collections:

  • Looked After Children
  • Child Protection
  • Child Health Surveillance Programme data
  • Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels
  • Attendance, Absence & Exclusions
  • Educational attainment, attendances, absences and exclusion

The study will also explore if it is possible to include data collated regarding decisions made by the Children’s Hearings System.

Research team

Project lead: Robert Porter and Joanna Soraghan.

Publications, Outputs and Media Coverage

This project commenced in Autumn 2021. When publications or outputs are available, they will be shared here.

For more information about this project, please contact us.

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