Fiona Daly and Dawn Ryan

Participatory research with
care leavers
Fiona Daly & Dawn Ryan
28th October 2011
What is EPIC?
EPIC was formerly the Irish Association of
Young People in Care (IAYPIC)
EPIC is an independent organisation that
advocates at a local and national level for the
rights of young people in care and young
people who have care experience
What does EPIC do?
• Children’s Rights & Participation
• Aftercare Advocacy & Support Service
• Research
• National Advocacy & Policy
Plan for presentation
Research aims of EPIC study
Participatory research methods
How care leavers are involved in the study
A care leaver’s perspective
Conclusions – important considerations for
involving peer researchers
Research aims
• Main research question - young people’s
experience of taking part in their care review
• Aim to interview 20 young people aged 15-17
(10 in residential care and 10 in foster care)
• Identify ways to promote young people’s
meaningful participation in the care review
• Report for practitioners and policymakers
Participatory research
• Fairly new approach to doing research
• Doing research with young people rather than on them
(Kirby, 2000)
• Young people with care experience are involved in
carrying out research – goes beyond being a participant
• Acknowledges that young people are experts in their own
lives and experiences
• Therefore, they should help to define the research
questions and be involved in interpreting the findings
Participatory research
• Can improve the quality of the information, e.g. research
participant may open up more to a peer researcher
• Possible benefits for peer researchers, e.g. develop
research skills, enhance self-esteem.
Potential limitations
• May take on the role of a traditional researcher
• May bias responses from participants – tell them what they
think peer researchers want to hear?
• Maintaining young people’s involvement as peer
researchers, e.g. interest, on-going commitment etc.
How care leavers are
Care leavers are involved at 3 particular stages of the
1. Inform research questions - attending preliminary
focus groups to discuss topics for inquiry, how research
should be done etc.
2. Data collection - carry out some interviews with young
people (after completing training)
3. Data analysis - review and discuss the initial research
findings (not yet carried out)
Preliminary focus
• 2 focus groups held with care leavers before research
started (Summer 2010)
• 6 care leavers took part in both groups
(age 20-28)
• Accessed through the EPIC Aftercare Support Worker
• Twin aims:
(1) Obtain young people’s views and feed them into the
research plan where possible
(2) Recruit peer researchers
Preliminary focus
Questions in focus group
How information was used for
research study
Identify the key characteristics of Background information
‘good’ care reviews
What do we need to know about
young people’s experience?
Research questions
How should young people be
asked about their care
Should care leavers be involved
in the research and how?
Who should know about the
results and in what ways?
Need for training peer
Facilitated training sessions during Summer 2010
• Introduction to research methods
• Background to the research study, e.g. study aims,
methods, how data will be used
• Ethical considerations, e.g. child protection,
confidentiality, role of the researcher
• Interview techniques involving role play
• Feedback on training sessions
4 care leavers completed training (6 started)
2 young people selected for carrying out interviews
Interviews with young
• 9 interviews have been carried out so far
• 6 with young people in residential care and 3 with
young people in foster care
• 6 females and 3 males
• Peer researcher has done 4 interviews so far
• Aim to recruit more young people in foster care –
accessing young people under the age of 18 years
can be difficult due to consent issues
Some initial findings
• All but one young person attended their last care review
• Desire to hear what was being said and decisions made
• Most felt they could say what they wanted and that they
were listened to at the meeting
• However, some young people wanted other family
members present which did not happen
• Some questions on the review form were not relevant or
seen as ‘childish’
• Verbal feedback but no written feedback
A care leaver’s
• Reasons for getting involved
• Initial feelings and expectations
• Personal experience of interviewing young
people for the study
• Response from young people
• Challenges along the way
• Why involve peer researchers?
• What have I learnt?
• Garda clearance for peer researchers
• Safety protocol for peer researchers,
e.g. personal safety before, during and after interviews,
check in with co-ordinator
• Safety protocol for research participants – steps to take
in light of a disclosure, what to do in case a young
person gets upset
• Young people need on-going support and supervision,
e.g. de-briefing session after interview
• Devise a training programme for peer researchers study aims, interview skills, confidentiality
• Ensure that peer researchers do not know young
people to be interviewed
• Consider young people’s maturity level, skills and their
• Acknowledge the time and contribution given by peer
researchers – payment?
• Build extra time into the research plan when involving
peer researchers
And finally…
7 Red Cow Lane,
Dublin 7
Phone: 01-8727661
E-mail: [email protected]
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