Constructions and experiences of intimate relationships for care experienced people

A rapid review of literature

This resource provides a rapid review of the literature available relating to care experienced people, and behaviours and attitudes towards their intimate relationships.

About the review

In the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (May 2022), the authors state that “when finding a home for a child in care, our obsession must be putting relationships around them that are loving and lasting”. In the Scottish care review named The Promise, authors emphasised that “above all else, the Care Review has heard it is that children want to be loved, and recovery from trauma is often built on a foundation of loving, caring relationships”.

Most of the literature around social connectiveness and relationships for care experienced people has examined the dynamics of caregiver-child relationships, with some also exploring peer relationships. Less is known about how young people who have been through the care system experience their own intimate relationships, including rates of victimisation or perpetuation of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Young people who have been in care are more likely to have experienced high rates of childhood adversity, including family dysfunction, poverty, parental mental health and abuse. Of the 388,490 children identified as Child in Need in 2021, for 219,190 of them (56%) abuse and neglect was listed as the primary need at assessment. Interestingly, concern around violence towards the parent was the primary concern at the end of assessment in 2021. In 2020, it was domestic violence by the parent towards the child.

Whilst evidence suggests that care experienced young people are likely to have been exposed to increased levels of violence, little is known about how this, as well as the unique and challenging circumstances of growing up in foster care, residential care or other forms of care placement, may impact the intimate relationships of care experienced people.

The following rapid literature review aims to explore how Care Experienced People (CEP) conceptualise, seek, and experience their own intimate relationships, as well as how they seek support with them. Findings of the review aim to identify key findings and gaps in research, that hope to contribute towards evidence used to design interventions and support around healthy relationships, that are adapted to the needs of the care experienced community.

This resource includes: 

  • Background
  • Methods
  • Findings
  • Conclusion
  • Key findings
  • Bibliography

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