5 Feb 2021

Together with related problems known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and other structural issues such as poverty, they can have significant negative effects on children’s lives.

Children and young people in challenging environments have a higher chance of developing a range of problems and have less chance of good education, employment, and health in later life. Until now, researchers have mainly focused on problems one at a time, rather than studying the whole environment around the child or young person. 

The earlier children and young people receive support, the better their lives will likely be. But it is not clear how best to provide this support. There is not enough known about what works to improve the life chances for children living with 'toxic trio' and similar challenges. 

The aim of our research

This research project (ORACLE) will investigate children and young people’s needs in different communities, and will include families in difficulty, and children and young people in care. Our aim is to improve outcomes for children, young people, and families experiencing adversity through prevention and improved support. We want this research to inform health and social care and wider policy areas, including education and criminal justice.

How the research will be conducted 

This project has two phases: first, to better understand the health and lives of children and young people and second, to design better ways to improve outcomes and support. 

In the first phase, we will talk confidentially with children and young people and their families in south London and Newcastle to find out about their experiences. We will also analyse large national datasets to look at how risk might link to and create health inequalities, and review the existing literature in the field.

In the second phase we will design a tailored support package, which will be reviewed for effectiveness. To ensure this work has an impact on policy, we are running policy labs with key stakeholders, including those working with communities in south London.   

Our collaborators 

We are working with academics from a range of health disciplines, as well as social work and clinical arts physiotherapy at universities including King’s College London, Liverpool and Newcastle. We are also working closely with the National Children's Bureau, and the many organisations that they collaborate with. 

This project was adopted by the ARC in January 2020 and is expected to finish in March 2023.