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Aoife O'Higgins, University of Oxford

What do carers do to promote education of children in care? A study of attitudes, aspirations and behavior of children and young people and their relationship to educational outcomes

 The gap between the educational outcomes of children in care and their peers has been well documented in research. But the risk and protective factors underlying this social problem are poorly understood and insufficiently modelled in order to be useful for interventions.
This study aims to strengthen the evidence base for social and educational interventions by identifying some risk and protective factors for educational outcomes. The study focuses on what happens in foster and kinship placements. In particular, it explores the relationship between educational outcomes and three broad concepts: the quality of the relationship between the children and their carers, attitudes, aspirations and behaviours (AABs) of children and AABs of carers. It also models the relationship between these concepts and the outcome, cross-sectionally and over time, by using mediation and moderation and longitudinal analyses. The study includes a sample of 2400 young people age 10 to 15 years old whose details are recorded in the Ontario Looked After Children database, based in Canada. Its findings aim to inform future research on risk and protective factors for children in care. Moreover, it will seek to support the development of existing or new interventions for children in care. Finally, it is hoped that the study will contribute to policy developments by creating a conversation about collecting data from carers.
The present paper will present some of the preliminary findings from the study, focusing on the AABs of children and their carers and their relationship to educational outcomes, and explore how these findings might contribute to the development of interventions for children in care.

Keywords: education, aspirations, foster carers