What does this project involve?
The Transition Hub aims to support young people aged 11 to 17 who are making the transition into care or experiencing a placement transition. It does this through a multi-disciplinary team which provides support to young people, their carers and schools. Developed by Dr. Catherine Carroll, working in collaboration with Achieving for Children and Barnet Local Authority, the Hub offers ‘inreach’ and ‘outreach’ support to young people. Inreach support provides daily lessons that focus on academic skills, social-emotional development, and enrichment activities, and is delivered in a physical hub within a school for the young people. In outreach support, young people recieve six weekly in-school meetings with a Learning Mentor who supports with a range of academic and social-emotional development issues.
Why did YEF fund this project?
There are approximately 70,000 children looked after in England, three-quarters of whom are in foster care. These young people are more likely to have experienced early trauma, mental health difficulties, early parenthood and exclusion from school, and are over-represented in the criminal justice system as perpetrators and victims. Those who enter care in adolescence and experience multiple or disrupted placements are most at risk of poor outcomes.
YEF therefore funded the evaluation of the Transition Hub, a programme specifically designed to support these young people. The evaluation consisted of a feasibility phase and a pilot phase. The feasibility phase explored the feasibility of delivery and aimed to provide lessons for further research. The pilot phase subsequently examined whether the Transition Hub might evidence promise on desired outcomes, and sought to offer further learning about delivery and the acceptability of the programme.
Across the two phases, 80 young people were supported by the Transition Hub. Qualitative methods used to evaluate the programme were semi-structured interviews with young people, foster carers, Transition Hub staff and other stakeholders. The evaluator also analysed data routinely collected by the Transition Hubs, including delivery monitoring data, school attendance data, and data from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Pupil Attitude to Self and School (PASS) survey (both youth self-report).
Delivered from January 2020 to December 2022, the feasibility and pilot phases of the study were undertaken during the coronavirus pandemic, requiring the delivery and evaluation teams to adapt to challenging circumstances
|The feasibility phase of the study found that the Transition Hub was broadly acceptable to all parties and perceived to fill an important gap in provision. Young people engaged with the Transition Hub for six to seven months on average, and engagement was regarded as being good. Covid-19 did pose challenges for programme recruitment and engagement, and the delivery team responded by delivering a ‘blended’ in-person and online approach and by revising recruitment targets. These revised targets were met for the feasibility and pilot phases.
|Facilitators of successful delivery included the physical location of hubs, the dedication and diversity of Transition Hub staff, staff training and support, and good learning mentor relationships with foster carers and stakeholders. Barriers included physical access difficulties for some young people, tensions around Transition Hub accountability and autonomy, insufficient educational psychologist time and online delivery during Covid-19 lockdown.
|Qualitative interview data from the pilot phase suggested that Transition Hub support helped young people with education, placement stability, relationships, and social-emotional development. Quantitative data from the pilot phase showed little evidence of promising change, although care is needed in interpreting this.
|The pilot phase found that the inreach element did not always work as well as anticipated. The location of the physical hub was impractical for some young people, and it also forced some into a ‘double transition’ – first into the Transition Hub and then into their new school.
|Several evaluation challenges were identified in the pilot, including the difficulty in recruiting young people and carers for qualitative interviews and challenges with outcome data collection. There were complete data for 69% of the sample for the SDQ and 52% for the PASS (both youth self-report).
What will YEF do next?
YEF has opted not to proceed with further evaluation.