Care leavers, Covid-19 and the transition from care (CCTC study)

Care leavers, Covid-19 and the transition from care (CCTC study)

A research study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. It will explore care leavers’ transitions to adulthood in the context of Covid-19: Understanding pathways, experiences and outcomes to improve policy and practice.


Care leavers typically leave their foster homes or residential placements at 16-18 years and cannot necessarily rely on receiving as much practical, emotional or family support, once they have moved, as their peers in the general population. Research shows that young people leaving care can feel isolated and abandoned at this time and that they are vulnerable to poor outcomes including poverty, homelessness, mental ill-health and unemployment. The health, social and economic impacts of Covid-19 heighten the challenges they are likely to face at a stage of life that can be difficult in the best of circumstances.

The study aims to improve understanding of the impact that Covid-19 has had on the timing of young people's transitions from care, where young people go ("transition pathways"), what services and support they receive, and how they fare. It will involve analysis of quantitative data on around 900 care leavers and in-depth interviews with senior and operational managers from children's services and health, as well as 50 care leavers and their personal advisors.

In particular, we will focus on understanding the impact that the pandemic has had on the health and wellbeing of care leavers and the strengths and limitations of the mainstream and specialist health services they receive. We will then work together with care leavers and professionals to develop recommendations for policy makers and tools to support best practice.

A more detailed overview of the research [PDF]

Emily R. Munro
Principal Investigator

Emily Munro

Emily Munro is Goldberg Professor of Social Work Research, Director of the Institute of Applied Social Research and Director of the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire. She is also Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood from Care (INTRAC: Emily is the Principal Investigator on the CCTC study. Her expertise lies in child and family social work, with a focus on children in and leaving care.
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Claire Baker
Independent Consultant

Claire Baker

Claire Baker specialises in research focusing on the experiences and outcomes for young people in and leaving care. Claire is an independent consultant on the CCTC project working with local authorities to support the collation and analysis of quantitative management information system data to understand young people’s transition pathways. Claire has worked in both academic and senior policy roles influencing legislative and policy context and advancing research knowledge. She has published nationally and internationally and has created tools for practice including the ‘Baker and Dixon’ leaving care self-assessment framework and co-wrote the National Leaving Care Benchmarking forum local offer toolkit.
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Seana Friel
Research Assistant

Seana Friel

Seana Friel is a Research Assistant at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire working on the CCTC Project. Seana is an experienced mixed-method researcher and has recently worked on projects such as a study for the Department for Education exploring pathways to employment for care leavers and an evaluation of Crisis UK’s Tackling Multiple Disadvantage project for people experiencing homelessness. Seana is particularly interested in participatory research methods; and has worked as a care experienced researcher on a longitudinal study exploring transitions and outcomes for care leavers in Northern Ireland.

Laura García Alba
Visiting PhD Student

Laura García Alba

Laura García Alba is a visiting PhD student at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire and a Pre-doctoral Researcher at the University of Oviedo in Spain. Her research currently focuses on the development of resources and tools for childcare practice and the study of young care leavers’ experiences about their transition to independent living. She has also been involved in national projects that evaluated emotional and behavioural challenges of young people in residential care in Spain. 


Amy Lynch
Research Fellow

Amy Lynch

Amy Lynch is a Research Fellow at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire and is a Research Fellow on the CCTC Project. Amy’s expertise lies in practice-near child and family social work research and her experience includes evaluation of projects within the Department for Education's Children's Social Care Innovation Programme. Recent research projects have included exploration of young peoples' and social workers’ experiences of innovation for young people leaving care.
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Fiona Newlands
Research Fellow

Fiona Newlands

Fiona Newlands is a Research Fellow at the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care at the University of Bedfordshire and a researcher on the CCTC study. In recent years her work has focused on programme implementation and evaluation in child protection, looked after and leaving care settings. She is particularly interested in the needs and experiences of young people leaving care.
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Strategic Advisory Board

The research team is supported by a Strategic Advisory Board who will meet regularly throughout the course of the research and will advise on and support implementation of strategies to maximise the impact of the work and scale up.

Members of the strategic advisory board: 




Baroness Young of Hornsey (Chair)

Co-Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Looked After Children and Care Leavers (APPG)

Member of House of Lords

Darren Bishton

National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum Practice Lead

National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum (NLBFC) Catch22

Rosie Blackett

Young People’s Participation and Development Worker 

The National House Project

Janet Boddy

Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies

University of Sussex

Matthew Brazier

Specialist Adviser for looked after children, and social care inspector 


Rhiannon Clapperton

Director of Policy, Campaigns & Communications 

Become Charity

Jonny Hoyle


Assistant Team Manager

North Yorkshire County Council

Ian Lewis

National Children's Services Advisor

Children and Young People's Mental Health Programme NHS England

Mark Riddell

National Implementation Adviser for Care Leavers

Department for Education

Doug Simkiss

Honorary Associate Clinical Professor in Child Health

Medical Director

The University of Warwick 


Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Sarah Sturmey


CEO and Founder

Pure Insight

Lisa Watch

Director of Policy, Campaigns & Communications

Become Charity