Bright Spots - ‘Your Life, Your Care’ surveys of looked after children and young people

Project Details



Although little is known about children’s well-being, even less is known about the well-being of vulnerable groups such as looked after children. There are statistics and literature on looked after children’s outcomes, but outcomes are only a part of well-being. Rarely have children been asked what they think matters to their well-being.

Overall aim

In a partnership between the Hadley Centre at the University of Bristol and Coram Voice, a children’s rights charity, we set out to discover what matters to looked after children. The study aims to:

• improve the care experience for all looked after children;
• give children a voice on their own well-being; and
• highlight the ‘Bright Spots’ of practice that contribute to children flourishing in care.
The project has been funded by the Hadley Trust, the DfE Social Care Innovation Fund and the Welsh Government.

The project so far

Literature reviews were undertaken, an expert professional roundtable and focus groups held with 140 children and young people. Three age appropriate surveys were developed 4-7yrs, 8-10yrs and 11-18yrs, piloted, refined and later completed by 3,000 looked after children in England (2016-2017).

The results of the anonymous surveys challenge frequently reported statements about the care system. Children recorded that they felt safe in their placements and 83% thought that life was improving. Many young people wanted to thank their social workers and carers. There were also improvements they wanted to see their LA make. The 17 LAs in England who have used the survey, have responded to the views of their looked after children by making changes to policy and practice.

In 2018, the surveys are being piloted in Wales in six local authorities and used by approx. 22 LAs in England. Additional work will be undertaken in LAs to understand the changes that have been made as a result of the survey findings and to explore why some LAs have ‘ Bright Spots’ of practice.
Funded by The Hadley Trust.
Effective start/end date1/06/1331/08/19

Structured keywords

  • SPS Children and Families Research Centre


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  • Bright Spots

    Selwyn, J.


    Project: Research