Core Assets has announced Minister for Children and Families, Edward Timpson MP, has officially launched a new and innovative research centre at the University of Oxford that sets out to improve the lives of children and young people in foster care.
The Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, based in the Department of Education, is thought to be the only dedicated research centre in the world to examine how policy makers and agencies can improve educational outcomes for children and young people in foster care. The Rees Centre will involve carers, fostered children and young people and service providers in identifying urgent areas for research.
Edward Timpson MP, said: “Foster carers make a massive difference to the lives of vulnerable children by helping to give them a loving and caring home, and the much needed stability for them to succeed at school. We need to know what works and why, so that we can give more children in care a better chance to succeed. That is why the work of Rees Centre is so important to children across the country. I very much look forward to working with the centre.”
Coinciding with the launch, the centre has published an international review of research on why people become foster carers. The next research project to be implemented by the centre will examine ways of tackling the current recruitment crisis of foster carers in England. Researchers from the centre will study carers in England specifically, asking them why they started fostering children. Why people foster is a topic of urgent interest to policy makers and practitioners because the current number of available foster carers lags behind the increasing number of children and young people seeking placements. The research will be guided by carers, some of whom will also receive training to interview other carers as part of the research.
The Rees Centre is named after Jan Rees, founder and non-executive director at Core Assets. Core Assets, a major provider of children’s services in the UK and internationally, is giving financial support to the centre.
Jan said: “I am enormously excited to put my name to such an august endeavour; practice- based research into the mechanics of fostering is an undeveloped area. We hope it will discover more about what makes the best foster parents, what constitutes the most efficacious support and what conditions children need to flourish in order to maximise their academic, social and emotional potential. To have Oxford University support our efforts is beyond my wildest expectations and we hope that this centre will grow into a worldwide resource.”
The new centre will draw on the world-leading expertise of the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, which carries out cutting-edge, policy-related research into how disadvantaged children and young people can be helped to achieve. Its researchers will also include academics working in related disciplines and faculties at the University, particularly in the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, as well as from other institutions both in the UK and in other parts of the world.