The children’s residential care workforce is often undervalued and seen as transient and low skilled,
despite its work with children who have often experienced significant trauma, who are often placed in children’s homes as a ‘last resort’.


The registration and regulation of such staff has the potential to have an impact not only on registrants, but also on the lives of those who use their services. However, there is a lack of research that explores whether these aspirations are realised. Devolution has also seen significant divergence between the nations of the UK in the regulatory frameworks around children’s social care. The impact of such divergence is under-researched.

The aim is to explore the impact of registration of the residential childcare workforce. The objectives are:

To develop a programme theory for registration and regulation of residential childcare workers, elements of which will then be explored through other strands of the study.

To provide an analysis of how the registration and regulation process is experienced and understood by the residential childcare workforce and their understandings of its impact on their own practice and development; the quality of care provided; and outcomes for young people.

To contribute new knowledge and generate empirical insights for understanding the impact of regulatory frameworks and shaping future developments of regulatory policy in England, Wales and elsewhere.

To explore the feasibility of a potential future longitudinal research design, to research the long-term impacts of regulation on the workforce and outcomes for young people.

Activities and Methods

This is a multi-method evaluation, including the following work packages:

Focus groups and interviews with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a logic model and program theory of registration, elements of which will be tested in subsequent work packages.

An on-line survey of registered residential children’s home staff in Wales and England exploring
how staff registration and regulation are understood and experienced.

Semi-structured interviews at two time points of workers (n=50) entering the residential childcare
workforce in England and Wales exploring their experiences of induction and how prepared they are for the role.

Feasibility study to develop a study design that would allow consideration of the impact of regulation long term, including on outcomes for children and young people


This project is ongoing.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorMartin Elliott

Academics and Researchers

Reader in Social Care, King’s College, LondonDr Mary Baginsky
CASCADE, Cardiff UniversityProfessor Alyson Rees
Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff UniversityProfessor Mike Robling
Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff UniversityDr Rebecca Playle
CASCADE, Cardiff UniversityDr Cindy Corliss
Research Fellow, Kings College LondonDr Carl Purcell
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FundersNational Institute for Health and Care Research
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