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Role, Relationship and Friend for Life: How Independent Visitors promote the Learning and Wellbeing of Looked After Children

Clancy, D; (2017) Role, Relationship and Friend for Life: How Independent Visitors promote the Learning and Wellbeing of Looked After Children. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Poor outcomes for looked after children in the areas of education and wellbeing are well established by research. Statutory guidance for Local Authorities says all looked after children are entitled to have access to an 'independent visitor’ (IV) - an adult friend, independent of the care system, if it is deemed to be in their ‘best interests’. Currently, just 3.2% of the looked after population are matched with an independent visitor. This is a voluntary role and evidence indicates that most IV relationships develop into friendships, and last longer than two years. This research study used a two-phase, sequential mixed-methods design to investigate the nature of these relationships and the ways they benefit this vulnerable group. Phase one consisted of unstructured interviews with six Independent Visitors, one Independent Visitor Service co-ordinator and eight young people from one Local Authority to discover their perceptions of the value or otherwise of the relationship. Systematic thematic analysis of the data was carried out (using NVivo 11) resulting in the identification of six themes and eight subthemes. Phase two consisted of a national online survey of one hundred and four IVs in order to test and corroborate findings from the interview data. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected through the survey. Findings from the two phases were triangulated and discussed. IVs described approaches to working with young people which promote positive education and wellbeing outcomes through promoting their voice, advocating on their behalf, providing consistent emotional support, support for transitions and preparation for leaving care. Young people valued many different aspects of their IV’s support including consistent, flexible, practical and emotional support. Overall, findings highlight the value of IVs in enhancing resilience and safeguarding for vulnerable young people in care and after. Good practice strategies for LAs and professionals working with looked after children and young people are highlighted.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Role, Relationship and Friend for Life: How Independent Visitors promote the Learning and Wellbeing of Looked After Children
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1553187
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