Innovative approaches to working with vulnerable young people - Creating Bright Futures: remodeling a work experience programme to improve education and employment horizons for children in care.

Jo Dixon, Jade Ward

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper presents a work experience and skills development programme that was adapted for children in care in one local authority. It highlights the innovative elements of the programme, the benefits for care-experienced participants and the impetus and advantages for employers who provided the work-related opportunities.
Data gathered from 51 stakeholders participating in Bright Futures included children in care (33), foster carers (5), employers (8), and staff from Children’s Services and York Cares (5) via interviews, surveys and programme monitoring records. Participatory methods were used to engage children and Bright Futures staff in developing the evaluation questions. One care-experienced young person undertook a work placement with the evaluation team.

By beginning the intervention sooner with children in care, the remodeled programme offered space to shape children’s understanding of the career options open to them and raise aspirations. Opportunities to develop work-related experiences and skills offered children scope to build confidence in their abilities, inspire them to formulate and pursue career goals, and encourage the education engagement needed to achieve their goals, thereby building a firmer foundation for post-care EET journeys.

The range of opportunities was valued by children, most of whom undertook more than one. Further effort, however, was needed to reach dis-engaged children and those with high needs. Employers reported benefiting from providing opportunities, including a greater understanding of the needs and strengths of the care population. Reasons for providing opportunities included altruism ‘to give back to vulnerable groups’ and meeting their corporate social responsibility. Crucially, the programme for children in care was considered an investment in the future local workforce.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 1 Sept 2021
EventEuropean Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EuSARF) Conference: XV1 The perspective of the child - Online, Zurich, Switzerland
Duration: 1 Sept 20213 Sept 2021


ConferenceEuropean Scientific Association on Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents (EuSARF) Conference
Abbreviated titleEUSARF XV1
Internet address


  • children in care
  • education of looked after children
  • employment preparation programmes
  • co-production

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