Working with adolescents at risk of out of home care: the effectiveness of specialist teams

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This paper reports findings from a quasi-experimental study of services for young people who appeared to be at risk of placement. It compares outcomes for young people in England referred to specialist support teams, which offered an intensive service with those for a group referred to the mainstream ‘service as usual’ delivered by local area social work teams. The services offered by the specialist teams bear some similarities to intensive family preservation services (IFPS) in the USA, insofar as they offer an intensive, short-term preventive service whose principal aim is the prevention of placement. Many of the young people had serious emotional and behavioural difficulties, and many had lengthy histories of abuse, neglect, or past placement. At follow-up, many young people and families receiving both types of service showed considerable improvement on a variety of measures of child and family functioning, but results were not significantly better for the group served by the intensive service. However, the intensive services group were found to be significantly less likely to enter placement. The paper discusses the merits of considering both individual and service outcomes, and considers the impact of a variety of child and service system factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1059
Number of pages15
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • children on the edge of care
  • social work issues

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