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The study

The Care Pathways and Outcomes is a longitudinal study that has been following all 374 children who were under five years old and in care in Northern Ireland on 31st March 2000.

We want to find out where these children/young people end up living and compare how they are getting on in their different types of placement (such as foster care, kinship care, adoption, living with birth parents, etc). We also want to explore the levels of stability and placement breakdown that is happening, and to identify the reasons behind it.

The study has entered its fourth phase "The teens and early adulthood" (2016-2022). In this critical phase, the young people are aged between 18 and 25 years old.  We are talking to the young people and their parents/carers.

In the previous phase of the study (2006-2010), ‘The Children’s Perspective’, we spoke to the children themselves (aged 9 to 14 years), as well as their parents and carers, to find out how they were getting on.

The findings of this study have been published in a book format with the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) in May 2013, and are also available in a summary report.

The study was originally located in Queen’s University Belfast, but has moved to Ulster University where the study Principal Investigator, Dr Dominic McSherry, is now based.

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council

Animation from Futurum

Have a look at this animation from Futurum which explains the project context.

Our blog


McSherry, D., Fargas Malet, M., & Weatherall, K. (2013). Comparing long-term placements for young children in care. The Care Pathways and Outcomes Study - Northern Ireland. London: BAAF

Articles and talks

The Futurum group recently did a profile of the project and of Dr Dominic McSherry. Futurum seek to inpsire the next generation by showcasing potential careers.

Click here to read the article.

Bernardos "Stronger From the Start"

Dominic gave a talk as part of Bernardos "Stronger From the Start" series on the relationship between infant mental health, parenting stress and poverty.

Here we have Dominic talking to  Eimear McQuaide who is working on a documentary exploring why mental health issues are so prevalent in Northern Ireland. Her work will use interviews and archive footage to explore the connection between trauma from the Troubles and mental health today, and other factors contributing to the mental health crisis, such as poverty, lack of funding for services and drug and alcohol abuse.

We are also pleased to share with you an interview Grainne did on local radio which talks about her career, her feelings around mental health and some of her own early adversities which helped shape who she is.

Selected journal articles