The University of Oxford has announced the creation of a new centre to conduct research into how to improve outcomes for foster children and looked after children (in care) so they achieve more and have more fulfilling lives.
The new centre called the Oxford University Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education is a collaboration between Oxford's Department of Education and the Core Assets Group, a major provider of children's services in the UK that will also financially support the centre.
The inaugural professor and new director of the centre, Judy Sebba, previously worked as Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange in the School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sussex. Other newly created posts will include a new senior research fellow and a doctoral studentship at the centre.
Researchers at the new centre will look at the factors that influence whether or not children in care perform academically; the role played by foster carers, in particular the emotional attachments they provide for children in care; the motivation and retention of foster carers; the cost benefits of different types of care; and caring agencies' aspirations and expectations of looked after children and foster children.
Professor Anne Edwards, Director of the Department of Education at Oxford, said: 'The new centre builds on a depth of research in Oxford's Department of Education on how disadvantaged children and young people are being helped to achieve. Equally importantly, the centre will draw on the strengths offered by interrelated disciplines studied across the University, particularly in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention.'
Judy Sebba, Director of the Rees Centre and Professor of Fostering and Education, said: 'The Centre will play a vital role in understanding and shaping foster care practice and educational outcomes for children in care more generally.
'We aim to bring significant relevant research to current concerns over fostering, children in care and the improvement of service provision and outcomes, both in the UK and overseas. A wide range of related research projects are based at the University of Oxford and we are confident that this partnership with Core Assets will inform future policies and practice.'
Executive Director at Core Assets Group, Estella Abraham, commented: 'This is a hugely exciting development for the Group and reflects a commitment to invest strategically in areas affecting the fostering sector as a whole. We are enormously proud to be part of a venture which will have both national and international importance.'
Professor Ian Sinclair, Emeritus Professor of Social Work at the University of York, will be a consultant to the centre. Much of his research work focuses on foster and residential care and movement among looked after children.
The centre will also draw on the expertise of other leading researchers including Professor Kathy Sylva, an expert in the provision of early learning and Professor Anne Edwards, an expert on different approaches to professional learning.