Specialist foster care for traumatised young people with challenging behaviour : appraising joined up service provision
It is recognised that looked after young people with a history of trauma, offending, emotional, behavioural and educational difficulties often face a high risk of social exclusion later in life. Against this background an innovative and intensive fostering service was developed by a large charitable organization. The intention was to provide community based foster care placements as an alternative to residential and secure accommodation and an external evaluation was commissioned. The thesis grew out of the main research evaluation. This small scale case study has the separate aim of exploring how far the provision of specialist foster care placements together with appropriate services can help young people to achieve stability. This question is considered through an analysis of the organisational relationships, the model for service delivery, the implementation of the key services and their impact on the service users. The methodology and research approach used questionnaires and in-depth recorded interviews. The study has been personalised by including the voices of the organisation's key stakeholders and service users. With the introduction of recent legislation that places an emphasis on inter-agency and multi-professional working, the thesis seeks to draw out lessons from the case study on the opportunities and constraints of joined-up service delivery. It also aims to inform current policy and practice which is now shifting towards the provision of specialist foster care, rather than residential care for difficult young people. The findings indicate that achieving integrated service delivery and multi-professional working is a complex task. The study has provided a broad understanding about all aspects of service delivery, together with the views of the service providers and the service users. Finally, the thesis makes recommendations for the improvement of inter-agency co-operation and front line service delivery to ensure that young people and their families receive the services they need.