Longitudinal research of children in care or leaving care
Jul 26, 09:00
This research aims to systematically examine the methodological barriers and enablers for conducting a longitudinal study on children in care or leaving care. Children in out of home care include those who are living in foster care, care by relatives, residential care and those who are adopted. Although cross-sectional studies can provide observations of a whole study population at a single point in time, longitudinal studies offer the opportunity to conduct several observations of the same subjects over a period of time. Youth exiting care are a particularly vulnerable group due to their history of abuse or trauma before entering care and the stresses associated with leaving care to live independently. Children in out of home care may also experience placement disruption and multiple moves. Therefore, it is important to hear the voices of children in care or leaving care and longitudinal studies are necessary to provide a full insight into their developmental paths.
This paper presents a brief international review of existing longitudinal studies of children in care or leaving care. 24 semi-structured interviews were also conducted with principal investigators and senior researchers on comparable longitudinal studies on children in care or leaving care internationally. Interviews were analysed using thematic framework analysis. Results show that barriers and enablers exist in a number of key areas of research design including cost, data analysis, dissemination, governance, piloting, retention rates and sampling. Although financially expensive longitudinal research on children in care is invaluable to improve our understandings of the outcomes and life trajectories of this vulnerable population.