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Children’s views of informal care to be examined in new study

Press release issued: 2 December 2009

The voice of children living informally with relatives or friends (with no involvement from children’s services) across the UK will be heard in the first study of its kind, which will be conducted by the University following a Big Lottery Fund grant of £348,451 to the Frank Buttle Trust.

Professor Elaine Farmer from the University’s Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare and Dr Julie Selwyn of the University’s Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies have been commissioned by the Trust to conduct research into the experiences and outcomes of this group of children and their carers in order to gain an understanding of what is needed to improve their circumstances and outcomes.

An estimated 200,000-300,000 children currently live in informal kinship care, an invisible, disadvantaged population whose carers often have high levels of unmet need. These needs will be brought to public attention through this study.

The Frank Buttle Trust’s Chief Executive, Gerri McAndrew said:

‘We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund is supporting this important work. Although the Trust’s core activity is grant-giving, we are also committed to influencing government and relevant statutory agencies to adopt appropriate policies and practices to meet their needs. We hope the findings of the research will provide strong evidence to improve the lives of children living with their kinship carers.’

 Professor Farmer added:

‘This study will for the first time give a clear picture of how many children are living with kin, their health and finances. It will find out how well informal kin carers cope and what their needs are and will also explore children's views of the benefits and disadvantages of growing up with informal kin. The research will provide much-needed evidence about what would make these children's outcomes better.’

Further information

  1. For more information, please contact Georgina Brereton at the Frank Buttle Trust 0207 798 6225 or 020 7798 6229 or visit
  2. The University’s Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare is a leading centre for research on child welfare in the UK and hosts the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies.
  3. The Frank Buttle Trust is the largest UK charity providing grant aid to individual children and young people in desperate need through the following grant schemes: the Child Support Scheme, the Grant Scheme for Students and Trainees, the School Fees Scheme and the BBC Children in Need Small Grants Scheme. The Trust has experience of commissioning research, of note being the study By Degrees: From Care to University, out of which grew the Quality Mark for Higher Education Institutions working to support care leaver students.
  4. The Big Lottery Fund distributes half of the National Lottery good cause funding across the UK. The Fund aims to enable others to make real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need.
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