Learning from Research: The mental health of children and young people in state care in England


Around two-thirds of children are taken into State care due to experiences of severe maltreatment such as abuse or neglect. Consequently, being taken into care is an intervention for this vulnerable group of children, with the expectation that State care will then ameliorate or stabilise their mental health. Despite this, numerous research studies indicate that mental health concerns in this vulnerable child population remain high. Mental ill health experienced in childhood and adolescence can impact an individual’s short and long-term health, well-being, and socioeconomic trajectories whilst exerting long-term pressure on the State health and welfare systems through its impact on mental health services and the cost of interventions.

To facilitate recovery and better mental health, it is important to understand if and how the mental health of children in care varies over time and the contextual factors that influence their mental health. This presentation will highlight practice and policy-relevant findings from two ESRC-funded research studies which set out to answer these questions, utilising (1) a 5-year longitudinal follow-up of the mental health of children in care in England through secondary analyses of longitudinal, national-level administrative data and (2) two waves of a survey of children and young people aged 11-18 years in care. 


Dinithi Wijedasa is an Associate Professor in Child and Family Welfare and the former head of the Children and Families Research Centre at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. Dinithi has a background in developmental psychology with over 17 years of experience in researching outcomes and trajectories of vulnerable children in contact with child welfare services and living in out-of-home care such as children in State care, children adopted and those living with kin. 

Dinithi has extensive experience in managing and analysing large datasets including Census microdata, longitudinal survey data and national administrative data on mental health and children in care. She has recently completed two ESRC-funded research studies on the mental health of children in State care and is currently leading a Nuffield Foundation-funded study to explore the referrals, prognosis and pathways of children in care through mental health services, compared with children in the general population, using individual-level national mental health datasets held by the NHS.  


The session is aimed at social workers, managers, medical advisors within children's health, nurses, as well as anybody who is interested in furthering their knowledge on the mental health concerns facing children and young people in care.

For social workers, reflection on this session may contribute to your continuing professional development (CPD).

Members can watch recordings of previous Learning from Research webinars here


Members: FREE (don't forget to log in to your account to receive your discount) 
Non-members: £20+VAT. 

Places on this event are limited, so early booking is recommended. 


Telephone 020 7520 7520/0310 

Email events@corambaaf.org.uk