This protocol summarises plans for a systematic review of policies, programmes, and interventions that aim to improve outcomes for kinship carers and their children.
Within the UK, there is an increasing number of children being placed in the care of family or friends, known as kinship or connected care. This number is expected to continue to grow with the announcement of the government’s National Kinship Care Strategy, which will aim to ‘improve support and reduce barriers to kinship care’.
The available evidence indicates that some interventions for kinship carers and children show promise in improving child and carer outcomes. However, there are still gaps in the evidence base, particularly with regard to the range of outcomes reported and specific geographical regions or demographics.
To address these limitations, we have commissioned the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI) to conduct a systematic review, with the purpose of identifying promising and effective policies, programmes and interventions. In turn, it is hoped that this review will inform our understanding of how to improve the quality of kinship care within the UK. The review will include children and young people, aged 0-21, or their carers, who are in formal or informal kinship care in high-income countries.
The systematic review will comprise of both a quantitative (RQ1-3) and a qualitative review (RQ 4-5).
- What interventions for kinship families improve the outcomes of children in kinship care (e.g., safety, permanence, and wellbeing) and for kinship carers (e.g., wellbeing, confidence in parenting, relationship with child in care)?
- Are there interventions / programmes that are particularly effective with different groups of carers and children (e.g., disabled or minority carers or children)?
- Are there common elements shared by effective interventions?
- What are the enablers and barriers to successful implementation of interventions for kinship carers and children in kinship care?
- What are the perspectives of kinship carers and children in kinship care on the acceptability and usefulness of different interventions?
How will we go about it
The review will include children who are in formal or informal kinship care arrangements due to child maltreatment, neglect or risk of child maltreatment, relinquishment, or lack of provision of support. They must be aged 0-21 in high-income countries, including the UK, USA and a number of European countries.
It will include any intervention aimed at improving the outcomes of children in kinship care which has been evaluated using a suitable comparative study design (i.e., QED, RCT). Outcomes of interest include safety, permanence, wellbeing and educational attainment.
The review will include the voices of kinship carers, kinship-experienced children and young people or professionals working in kinship care with children and young people aged 0-21. This will focus on the acceptability of kinship interventions, together with the barriers and enablers which influence their successful implementation. This review will only draw on UK-based evidence.