Our evaluation and research

Our Impact and Evaluation team works in partnership with public sector and third sector organisations to research and evaluate the effect of services that seek to positively impact on children and young people’s lives. Our aim is to include the voice of children and young people in all of our research and evaluation projects.

The team has expertise in data analysis, qualitative and quantitative research methods and participatory research with children, young people, parents and professionals.

Read biographies of Coram's Impact and Evaluation team here.  

young boy with down syndrome painting

Our research has been used by government, third sector organisations and local authorities to:

  • develop support, training and guidance for adopters and kinship carers
  • help improve provision of statuatory services for disabled children and their families
  • develop new national policies and guidance to support children who are excluded from school 
  • understand the first-hand experiences of children who are less heard and represented in research and policy

To find out more, please contact our Impact and Evaluation team on 020 7520 0365 or at impactandevaluation@coram.org.uk  

Current and recent projects

Evaluation of a support programme for early permanence adopters and carers 

The Care for Me First programme, funded by the Department for Education, aimed to improve early placement for young children via fostering for adoption and concurrent planning. The programme included preparation training for potential early permanence carers and support groups for early permanence carers and adopters supported by a specialist clinician. The team evaluated the programme through depth interviews with support group leads and clinicians, feedback from adoptive parents and carers and social workers. The final report can be found here.

Understanding sleep problems experienced by young people 

A rapid review of literature was conducted by the team to find out what recent research tells us about sleep problems experienced by unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and children in care. The review, which was conducted from January to March 2019, aimed to understand the nature of the problems experienced by these young people to help with the development of the Coram Sleep Project. For both groups of children there were few studies found that focused on sleep problems specifically. Sleep issues were often a small part of studies about mental health more generally.

Unfair results: Pupil and parent views on school exclusion 

This report looks at how behaviour expectations for pupils are communicated and managed and explores the views of both parents and children regarding the school exclusion process. It includes the views of children and young people with and without personal experience of exclusion on the appropriateness, fairness and effectiveness of exclusion.

The report recommends that no child should be out of school any longer than the start of the term following that in which they were permanently excluded. Coram is also calling for clearer national guidance on exclusion to be written with and for young people, to be provided by central government, schools and local authorities working together.

Coram's evaluation of the Young Carers in Schools Programme 

Coram published a report highlighting the impact a programme in schools is having on young carers’ wellbeing, confidence and academic attainment. Coram conducted an online survey with 103 schools involved in the YCiS programme, 14 interviews with schools, local stakeholder organisations and staff in trailblazer sites that had observed young carers over several years, plus two focus groups with young carers. A summary can be found here

Findings from a longitudinal study of early placements 

This report presents the messages for policy and practice that were derived from the 2017/18 longitudinal research with parents who adopted their children through Coram’s concurrency programme. The research builds upon previous work conducted by Coram’s Impact and Evaluation team in 2011 and represents the first ever sample to be followed through concurrent planning over such a long period. Of the 12 adopters that participated in this latest wave of research, the majority (10) were also involved in the 2011 research facilitating a discussion of how their lives have evolved overtime. Additionally, for the first time, two young people shared their experiences of concurrency through qualitative interviews. Read the findings from a longitudinal study of early placements here.

Understanding why young people participate in the Voices competition 

Coram’s Impact & Evaluation Team carried out 11 interviews with young people who entered Voices. Voices is a writing competition specifically for children who have experience of the UK care system. Findings from these interviews found that young people felt that the competition paved a different path and unique way for them to share their views of the care system. Young people also felt that Coram Voice was committed in promoting their voice by actively sharing their entries with other people. Finally, young people described Voices as much more than a writing competition, it provided a chance to prove to themselves and to other people what children in care are capable of. Read Understanding why young people participate in the Voices competition here.

Investigating the Efficacy of Art and Music Therapy with Vulnerable Children and Young People 

The Pears Foundation commissioned a systematic literature review, to evaluate the quantitative evidence base on the impact of art therapy and music therapy with vulnerable children and young people. The review discusses vulnerability in relation to five broad subject areas: adoption, attachment and parent-child bonding, mental health, behavioural and social interaction difficulties and special educational needs. Within these five categories, ten specific conditions and diagnoses are covered. A total of 51 studies were identified and explored within the review, which discusses their findings in detail as well as highlighting areas of future focus. Download the review: Investigating the Efficacy of Art and Music Therapy with Vulnerable Children and Young People.   

Innovation in Social Care Assessments for Disabled Children and Young People

As part of the Department for Education’s Social Care Innovation Programme Coram was commissioned by the Council for Disabled Children to evaluate the effectiveness of their programme to co-design new approaches to assess disabled children for statutory and non-statutory support. The programme involved five local authorities who tested new approaches with the aim of creating a more efficient and proportionate system for families. Read the Innovation in Social Care Assessments for Disabled Children report here.

Measuring the number of vulnerable children in England 

Coram and Coram International helped to deliver the Office of the Children's Commissioner’s Report on Vulnerability, to enumerate and understand the  experiences of vulnerable children. Coram was one of four partners selected by the OCC to develop a framework for conceptualising the vulnerabilities experienced by children. As part of this stage Coram authored the retrospective review of definitions of vulnerability technical paper used by government.

Breaking the Cycle 

An evaluation of After Adoption’s programme, delivered in the Midlands, that supports women who had at least one child adopted. Coram was commissioned to explore the effectiveness of the programme which offers one to one and group sessions focused on building women’s self-esteem and confidence. The evaluation used depth interviews and focus groups with the birth mothers.  

The Cornerstone Partnership 

Coram’s evaluation of Cornerstone’s mentoring and Restorative Parenting Training schemes for adopters found that the programmes were viewed as high quality by adopters and social care professionals. Coram explored the effectiveness of the services through interviews with adopters, an online survey, focus groups with professionals and analysis of local authority data. The two schemes have run since the summer 2015 in partnership with seven adoption agencies. Read the Cornerstone Partnership evaluation report here.

Adoption Matching - Practice Guide 

This report is a practice guide that draws upon the evidence obtained from a Department for Education-funded study of matching practice in adoption services. It identifies lessons from agencies that were placing children relatively quickly and develops a new approach to matching that incorporates these, in order to deliver training and to produce a practice guide. The paper describes how a regional approach to matching was developed based on these principles. In addition the guide gives the psychological basis for personalised matching based on an individual’s particular characteristics of risks, strengths and needs and discusses the importance of high quality linking and matching in creating a family for life. Read the Adoption Matching - Practice Guide here.

Raising Kinship Children 

Raising Kinship Children is a parenting programme, developed jointly between Grandparents Plus and PAC-UK for kinship carers who were raising kinship children who demonstrated challenging behaviour. Our evaluation of the intervention found all kinship carers benefitted from the ten week course in some form: either from gaining new parenting skills, increased confidence and wellbeing or a reduced feeling of isolation. Read the Raising Kinship Children report here.

An Investigation into the Impact of Arts & Cultural Education on Children Looked After 

The team was commissioned by A New Direction to conduct an exploratory literature review to investigate the nature and impact of arts and cultural education on looked after children. The report was used to gain a better understanding of incorporating arts based activities into looked after children’s lives, and has been shared with the Department for Education and Arts Council England to support funding for A New Direction. Read the Investigation into the Impact of Arts & Cultural Education report here. 

Life Story Work

This research, conducted jointly between Coram and the University of Bristol, aimed to address the absence in the academic literature of adopters’ perspectives on their children’s life storybooks. The research uncovered a huge variance in experiences. Some adoptive parents reported their child’s Life Story Books as excellent, whereas others found the experience to be terrible. Read the Life Story Work research here or view Community Care's coverage of the Life Story Work study.

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