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Separation and Reunification of Looked after Children with their birth families in the United Kingdom

Carlson, Lyndsey (2017) Separation and Reunification of Looked after Children with their birth families in the United Kingdom. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University & Keele University.

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Abstract or description

The aim of this thesis is to provide an understanding of separation and reunification of looked after children with their birth families following a period of local authority care. Children are taken into care for a variety of reasons and at different rates across the country. In March 2016, there were 70,440 looked after children in England which represents 60 children per 10,000 of the population. As the majority of looked after children are placed in foster care they are often separated from their birth families, including siblings. By placing children in care local authorities aim to protect children from further harm and the goal is often reunification with families wherever possible. However, evidence from reunification studies suggests that this may be the least successful permanence option. A review of the literature regarding reunification of looked after children with their birth families in the UK was conducted and eight articles were identified, critically appraised and synthesised. Two analytic themes centred on lack of guidance and risks associated with return. The majority of looked after children who returned home experienced failed returns and re-entered local authority care. This review highlighted the lack of research exploring children’s perspectives on their experience of being in care. In response to this gap in the literature, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore the experience of looked after children placed in care who had siblings who remained in the family home. This analysis resulted in the following themes: self-concept, family dynamics and survival strategies. These findings are important for understanding the impact of separation on individuals and their relationships with others. The themes are considered in relation to psychological theory, implications and directions for future research are discussed. A reflective commentary described the experience of completing this thesis with emphasis on attachment theory.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 16 May 2018 12:57
Last Modified: 16 May 2018 13:03
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/4440

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