This protocol summarises plans for a feasibility study of the Kinship Care Mediation project. This is an intervention offering mediation to kinship families and training to professionals.
Kinship care is a growing form of care in England. The term describes arrangements in which children live with a relative or close family friend, usually because their parents are unable to care for them. Mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral third person (the mediator) helps people to make mutually acceptable decisions and arrangements for their futures. This intervention aims to help kinship carers and parents communicate better, using mediation to support kinship carers and parents to make decisions about the child, while taking the child’s view into account. Foundations have commissioned Coram to conduct a feasibility study of the mediation pilot project, to determine whether or not the intervention can be evaluated.
This intervention was developed by Family Solutions, a team of experienced family professionals who help families find ways of moving forward with their lives after a separation of some form. The intervention will be delivered to kinship families in four local authorities in the South Hampshire area: Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council and Isle of Wight Council.
Kinship families will be offered four in-person mediation sessions, which will typically take place over 16 weeks. Mediation sessions will be delivered by a trained, accredited Family Solutions mediator. In addition to standard mediation, the sessions will also include additional support with conflict management, positive parenting techniques and communication skills. For children – typically those aged ten or over – consultation will also be offered to the child as part of the four sessions. Family Solutions will also be providing mediation training for at least 70 professionals, who are based in one of the four local authority areas. Family Solutions aims for this to increase the number of appropriate referrals to the intervention and views the referral training as a key component of the intervention.
- To what extent is the intervention feasible and can it be evaluated?
- How should the Kinship Care Mediation project be evaluated in future?
- How should the Kinship Care Mediation pilot be developed, scaled up and replicated in future?
- Are there signs that the Kinship Care Mediation pilot is achieving the outcomes listed in the logic model (evidence of promise)?
How will we go about it
To conduct their feasibility study, Coram are using an approach based on rapid cycle design and testing. They plan to take a two-phased approach to fieldwork and act as a collaborative, supportive and critical learning partner to Family Solutions as the intervention develops over the one-year delivery phase. As part of this research, Coram will be conducting interviews with kinship carers, parents, referring professionals and mediators. They will be observing the mediation intervention, investigating professionals’ experience of the mediation training and collecting administrative data.