Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People's Services (C4EO)



Improving the emotional and behavioural health of looked-after children and young people (LACYP)

Research Summary

The aim was to synthesize the findings of research relevant to the behavioural health of looked after children and young people. The focus was on the three types of intervention of enhanced foster care, multi-systemic therapy (MST) and mentoring.


A systematic review of previous reviews of the research literature.

Key Findings

Key findings from the report are:
• Children and young people say that their emotional wellbeing and self-esteem is supported when they are cared for in an environment where they feel they belong.
• Make interventions and support for CYP accessible, so that CYP experience placement stability. Children and young people need continuity of support from their social worker and other professionals.
• Foster carers want better peer support networks, ongoing training to deal with emotional needs and more information on access to services, in particular mental health services.
• Enhanced Foster Care may be effective in reducing offending behaviour and the number of care placement moves. The training and support of foster carers is key to the young person receiving the required support from all services.
• There is some evidence that using multi-systemic therapy (MST) can result in improved emotional health, educational outcomes and family relations and decreased offending behaviour.
• The small amount of research on mentoring suggests that mentoring can have a modest impact on children and young people. The research suggests that mentoring is most successful when the mentor has come from a helping background or profession (such as teaching) and has ongoing support and training.
• Overall, there is a lack of research on interventions that specifically aim to improve the emotional and behavioural health of LACYP. Although there is some positive evidence for the effectiveness of all three interventions considered, the initial results reported in the international literature suggest that they may not necessarily be more effective than other interventions. Research in progress may clarify some of these issues.