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Title: Using longitudinal administrative data to characterise the use of out-of-home care among looked after children in England
Author: McGrath-Lone, Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 1147
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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BACKGROUND: Children in out-of-home care are a vulnerable population. In England, disaggregated data related to out-of-home care have been collected since 1992 through the Children Looked After (CLA) dataset. However, official analyses of CLA data produce annual statistical ‘snapshots’, which cannot account for the complexity of care placements throughout childhood. AIM: To characterise the use of out-of-home care among children in England using longitudinal administrative data. METHODS: Using longitudinal CLA data for a large, representative sample of children born 1992-94 (N=19,848), I estimated the cumulative incidence of placement in out-of-home care during childhood, described variation in childhood care histories and identified latent classes of out-of-home care. I also explored the stability of care placements and exits from care using sequence analysis and Cox proportional hazards modelling. Finally, I described how the use of out-of-home care changed over time using data for children born between 1992 and 2012 (N=93,652). RESULTS: Overall, one in thirty children born 1992-94 (3.3%) entered out-of-home care by age 18, with higher rates observed among ethnic minorities. Although childhood care histories were varied, distinct sub-groups based on legal status, duration and stability of care were evident and more than 40% of children had a single, short, voluntary placement. Most children appeared to achieve some form of permanence either within or outside the care system; however, some groups were at increased risk of exiting and re-entering care. Since 1992, the cumulative incidence of entering care has increased and placements have become longer and more stable. CONCLUSIONS: Longitudinal analyses of administrative social care data can refine our understanding of how out-of-home care is used as a social care intervention among children in England. However, the utility of the CLA dataset for evaluating changes in practice and policy is limited by the scope of information it collects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available