Evidence suggests that child behaviour problems are strongly linked to placement changes while parenting skills and the level of experience of carers are linked to placement stability.
KEEP is a group training programme that enhances the skills and confidence of foster and kinship carers, to improve placement quality and children’s outcomes. KEEP was developed by the Oregon Social Learning Centre for foster and kinship carers, and in the UK also includes special guardians.
KEEP training is delivered by two trained facilitators in 90 minute sessions to groups of 8-10 carers with a child aged 5-12. Sessions are delivered once a week for 16 weeks, with weekly phone calls between the facilitator and carers to collect information on behaviour exhibited by the child in placement and the level of carer stress. It works as a preventative programme to increase the parenting skills of carers; decrease the number of placement disruptions; improve child outcomes and increase the number of positive placement changes for permanence, such as a successful reunification with birth parents, long-term fostering, or adoption.
The KEEP evaluation was part of a £4.1m Scaling Evidence-based Interventions grant to the National Implementation Service to increase the use of five evidence-based interventions in children’s services: KEEP, RESuLT, STEPS-B, MST-FIT and AdOpt.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2016, based on data from 10 of the 20 local authorities in England that have delivered KEEP since 2009, found that:
- The emotional distress of carers decreased and their well-being improved.
- Carers who completed KEEP showed significant improvements on the Parenting Scale (based on the analysis of quantitative measures).
- There were significant improvements in carers children’s emotional distress and prosocial behaviours compared with the control group (based on SDQ completed by those carers).