Dr Felicity Thomas, from the University of Exeter, working with Torbay Council has been awarded a significant grant to undertake research in understanding the high numbers of children in statutory care in Torbay. This research is important as tackling health inequalities is a priority within Torbay.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 18 per cent of children in Torbay were living in relative poverty. Torbay also has higher rates of children in statutory care than most other authorities across England – a factor that is known to be associated with a range of poor life outcomes.
The core aims of the study are to i) better understand the underlying factors driving Torbay’s high rates of cared for children, ii) understand how early help can be delivered in ways that engage with and support families before problems escalate to crisis point, and iii) identify how communities and service providers can more effectively work together to support families at risk of statutory intervention.
This 21-month project draws on a mixed-methods and engaged research approach with families and communities. It is a collaboration between the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Torbay Council Children’s Services and Torbay Council Public Health consider their care needs and preferences to be, what influences these needs and preferences, how they change over time and where they want to be cared for and die.