Staying Connected: new research gets underway

Posted on 01st Apr 2022
Male teenage with headphones round his neck standing in front of a brick wall

We are excited to announce a new piece of research looking at care-experienced children and young people with a sibling in custody.

‘Staying Connected’ is a joint project between SCRA and Families Outside and is funded by The Promise Scotland.

We are carrying out this research as surveys of people in prison show relatively high levels of care experience, suggesting there are likely significant numbers of children and young people who have a sibling in prison who are in care themselves, yet we know nothing about these experiences. Limited research is available which considers the impact of the imprisonment of a brother or sister for children and young people, with little evidence on care-experienced children and young people’s perspectives of having a family member in prison either.

This project aims to address the gap in knowledge around ‘looked after’ children and young people’s experiences of sibling imprisonment. It will initially explore the issues around the identification, restoration, and maintenance of sibling relationships where one sibling is care-experienced* and one is on remand or serving a custodial sentence. It will then look at how these issues can be addressed and the implementation of processes and structures to enable these relationships to be supported.

The research part of the project will find the evidence to show how often siblings are separated in this way and what it means to brothers and sisters in care and in prison to be separated from each other.

It will be carried out in two phases:

  • Phase 1 (February 2022– July 2022) – Data collection: a sample of case files from SCRA’s case management system will be analysed to identify levels of sibling imprisonment for looked after children and what data is held about these cases.
  • Phase 2 (August 2022 – February 2023) – Interviews: children and young people who are or have been in care with experience of a sibling on remand or serving a sentence in prison or secure accommodation, or who are currently on remand or in custody and have a care-experienced sibling, will be invited to take part in interviews.

A Young Person’s Expert Advisory Group will oversee the project and be involved at key stages in the process to provide their expert guidance and feed into any recommendations and dissemination plans.

If you are interested in taking part in the research, work with groups who might be interested, or just want to know more, please get in touch with Kirsty Deacon.

Please look out for further information which will be coming soon on how children and young people can take part in this study.

* “Care-experience” here means all looked after children and young people. This includes children with Compulsory Supervision Orders made by Children’s Hearings and living at home, with kinship or foster carers, in residential units/schools or secure units. It also includes those in the care of a local authority on a voluntary basis, and those with Permanence Orders made by the courts.

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