Current and past projects

Take a look at our current and past projects to find out more about the varied research we do.

Evaluation of Coram Beanstalk’s reading support programmes (2022)

Coram Beanstalk’s programmes seek to improve children’s lives through reading support so that their risk of long-term disadvantage and the negative consequences of illiteracy are reduced. The most common delivery model is for volunteers to provide reading support twice a week to children that are identified as lacking confidence in reading, reading below their expected level, or lacking opportunities outside of school. However, a small number of volunteers also provide support once a week. This mixed-methods evaluation compared these two patterns of support delivered in English primary schools during the academic year 2018/19 to see whether twice a week compared to once a week work with children brought greater improvements. We found that young people (n=1,220 reading records) improved to a similar extent across the two programmes in terms of their reading attainment, confidence, enjoyment, and emotional wellbeing.

Our survey of 293 volunteers found that almost all thought their volunteering pattern was enough to build a rapport with children, whether this was once or twice a week. This was echoed in interviews with 8 volunteers who also described how much they enjoyed volunteering with Beanstalk. Given the context of post-pandemic learning losses and the findings of the current evaluation, we recommend that Coram Beanstalk offer once-a-week reading volunteering opportunities more widely, in order to reach greater numbers of children and recruit volunteers with less flexibility.

Activity Days for Fostering evaluation report (2022)

We carried out an evaluation of Coram’s Activity Days for Fostering (AdFs) reporting on the five full-scale AdFs delivered since 2018. Our evaluation aimed to explore whether AdFs have improved the matching process for children in care with a plan for long term fostering, particularly those who are harder to place, by looking at whether placements made through AdF matches were sustained, how stable placements were, the experiences of those attending AdFs, and cost-effectiveness. We analysed event monitoring data and sought follow-up data on the sustainability of the matches made following AdFs. We collated and analysed qualitative responses on feedback forms collected from children, prospective foster carers, current carers, social workers, and event volunteers, and carried out 6 interviews with one foster carer and five social workers who attended activity days.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care leavers’ well-being (2022)

In this follow-up report to What Makes Life Good (2020), we examined how the views of care leavers in England on their well-being have changed, or not, in light of the pandemic. We compared the pre-pandemic data from 1,804 care leavers aged 16-25 in ‘What Makes Life Good’ to newer data from 2,476 care leavers in 2020 to 2021, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. This analysis of Coram Voice’s Your Life Beyond Care survey was enabled by funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Evaluation of the use of objects in social work (2022)

We carried out an evaluation of the use of objects in social work, gathering feedback from social workers and practitioners involved in Coram’s ‘objects in social work’ experimental groups. The groups were run by emeritus professor Mark Doel between March 2021 and October 2021 in Sheffield, London and New York. The use of objects in conversations aims to enable social workers, and children and young people themselves, to better understand their life stories and their support needs. We observed the experimental groups and held one-to-one interviews with 11 experimental group attendees and Mark Doel, to hear about their experiences of using objects in social work and of taking part in the groups.

Coding with Purpose / Cr8 and Code Clubs evaluation report (2021)

Our evaluation of Coram Life Education’s Coding with Purpose pilot explored if the clubs improved children’s confidence, problem-solving, critical thinking and social skills. 38 children aged 7 to 13 years old attended the sessions in London. We analysed 71 surveys from the children, and interviews with the academic partner, a student ambassador, a foster carer, a Virtual School Deputy Head Teacher and the funder. We found that the clubs were gender balanced and had a greater proportion of Black and minority ethnicities compared to looked after children in London. Respondents reported improvements in confidence, critical thinking, problem-solving, social and team working skills, and that the children enjoyed themselves.

Evaluation of Behaviour Outreach Support Service (2021)

Funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care, Coram carried out a mixed-methods pilot evaluation in academic year 2020/21 of a school-based intervention, designed and delivered by Family Action, called the Behaviour Outreach Support Service. It aimed to help schools improve their support to pupils who display challenging behaviour. BOSS was delivered to 77 pupils aged 5 to 11, who have or have had a social worker, in eight primary schools in York. Our methods were: semi-structured interviews with pupils, parents, carers, teachers, BOSS staff and York council staff, administrative data collection and analysis, case files review, paper diaries completed by pupils, and an online survey for school staff.

Evaluation of Coram’s work with the City of London on Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (2021)

We carried out a process evaluation of an early intervention programme delivered by Coram in 2020-21 in the City of London. The programme aimed to help settle and integrate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people by providing training and resources to staff focusing on the impact of sleep, diet and exercise in relation to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people. We reviewed case consultation and case study notes, measurement tools, and carried out interviews with seven programme stakeholders in April and May 2021.

Baseline evaluation report on New Belongings programme (2021)

New Belongings is a three-year programme (2019-2022) being delivered by Coram Voice. The programme works with eight local authorities in England, supporting them to engage care leavers in service improvements using a co-production approach. Our evaluation of the programme uses a range of tools such as the Baker and Dixon self-assessment for local authorities and the Your Life Beyond Care survey for care leavers. Our New Belongings report provides a baseline assessment of the starting point for the eight participating local authorities.

Evaluation of the Young Citizens Programme: interim report (2021)

Coram’s Young Citizens Training Programme aims to make a positive impact on the lives of 16-25 year olds from migrant and refugee backgrounds.Young Citizens participants attend peer-led workshops co-produced and delivered by Young Citizens trainers, who use their experience of overcoming challenges when moving to the UK to help their peers. Our interim report analyses feedback from young people and professionals involved in the Young Citizens Training Programme between July 2019 and March 2021. In this period 41 Young Citizens trainers co-designed and delivered workshops to 308 Young Citizens participants.

Public attitudes to children in care and care leavers: Results from a national survey (2021)

We commissioned YouGov to poll over 2,000 UK adults in March 2021 as part of the Voices Through Time project. Our report sets out the public’s views on children in care and care leavers. It found that social attitudes continue to be based on negative perceptions, but a clear majority favour the provision of more support for care leavers.

Evaluation of Creative Life Story Work (2020-)

With our partners Ipsos MORI, Coram is carrying out an evaluation of a Blue Cabin model of Creative Life Story Work. We have published plans for a randomised controlled trial plus process evaluation (interviews and survey), funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care, of the implementation of the programme in Darlington, Gateshead and South Tyneside councils.

Evaluation of Behaviour Outreach Support Service (2020-)

Coram is carrying out an evaluation of a Family Action programme called the Behaviour Outreach Support Service. The service aims to reduce the risk of exclusion and develop the ability of schools to support children displaying behaviour that challenges. We have published plans for a mixed methods evaluation, funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care, of the implementation of the service in York primary schools.

What Makes Life Good: Care leavers’ views on their well-being (2020)

For this major report, we analysed responses from 1,804 care leavers in 21 local authorities in England collected between 2017 and 2019 through Coram Voice’s Your Life Beyond Care survey. The study was carried out in collaboration with Coram Voice and the Rees Centre, University of Oxford. Read the executive summary or the full report.

Follow-up evaluation of Family Group Conferences in pre-proceedings (2020)

We followed up a previous evaluation carried out under Round one of the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. We carried out interviews and analysed data to find out what happened next to child outcomes in Wiltshire and Southwark councils, after families received Daybreak Family Group Conferences. Read the report here.

Evaluation of specialist foster care placement project (2020)

As part of the Department for Education Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, we carried out an evaluation of a project which aimed to use specialist placements and co-produced care planning to allow disabled young people from Hertfordshire and Staffordshire to transfer to local foster care from out of area placements. Read the report here.

Family Group Conferencing at pre-proceedings stage (2019-2022)

Coram is carrying out an evaluation of a type of decision making used in children’s social care in the UK and internationally. The evaluation involves over 20 local authorities in England and is funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care, as part of a Department for Education programme, Supporting Families: Investing In Practice. The evaluation involves a randomised controlled trial and a process evaluation. More information for local authorities can be found on the study website, and technical details of methodology can be found in the trial protocol.

Young people’s views on knife crime (2019)

At Coram we believe it is vital that young people’s voices are at the heart of conversations about knife crime. In 2019, Coram’s Impact and Evaluation team ran six focus groups with around 50 young people living in London to get their views about knife crime. We produced an initial briefing paper and a final report setting out the key findings. The briefing paper informed Coram’s knife crime event held on 25 September 2019.

Young people helping others: evaluation of the HALO programme (2019)

Coram's Help, Advice and Legal Opportunity (HALO) programme gave 16 to 25 year olds the opportunity to help other children and young people. The programme operated across the Coram group of charities and provided a platform for young people to help increase children and young people’s access to information and advice about their legal rights. It also aimed to enable more motivated, skilled young people to work in the children’s rights sector. The evaluation of the programme assessed the effectiveness of HALO during the initial funding period of 2016 to 2019. The evaluation used a combination of surveys and interviews with young people and professionals, and a social return on investment analysis approach. The final report can be found here.

Evaluation of a support programme for early permanence adopters and carers (2019)

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 (2019)

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 (2019)

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. 

Think Siblings: findings from a national survey of adopters (2018)

Coram’s Impact and Evaluation team created an online survey for adopters in January 2017. The survey link was sent to adopters via Adoption UK, Coram and First4Adoption. There were 414 responses. All English regions were represented in the survey along with respondents living in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This report presents the findings from the survey.

Findings from a longitudinal study of early placements (2018)

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.

Public attitudes to children in care: Results from a national survey (2018)

This report sets out results of survey work undertaken for Coram in summer 2017 to assess the general public’s views on children in care. Coram, the first children’s charity, has an ongoing commitment to raise and develop the public’s understanding of children in care, and these survey results contribute to that commitment.

A Better Relationship with Learning: an evaluation of the Young Carers in Schools Programme (2018)

Coram’s report highlights the positive impact a programme in schools is having on young carers’ wellbeing, confidence and academic attainment. The programme aims to improve the identification and support of young carers in schools across the country so that they get the help they need. It includes an online step-by-step guide for school leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff, with templates, tools and guidance and a Young Carers in Schools Award enabling schools to gain recognition for effective practice.

Understanding why young people participate in the Voices competition (2017)

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 (2017)

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 (2017)

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 (2017)

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 (2017)

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 (2017)

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.

An evaluation of Activity Days for Adoption (2016)

Adoption Activity Days are delivered by Coram-i and act as a vital mechanism for finding adoptive families for children, particularly those for whom their agency has been searching for a while. This evaluation report looks at the impact of AADs and the experiences of those involved.

Adoption Matching - Practice Guide (2016)

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 (2016) 

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 (2016)

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 (2015)

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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