Catch up Literacy Evaluation Report

Dawson A, Williams C, Newton B, Garner L, Talbot J, Bowyer-Crane C (NIESR), Boshoff J (NIESR)  |   | What Works for Children's Social Care?  | May 2023

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Children in care have reportedly poorer educational outcomes than their peers who are not in care. As such, it is vital that interventions are identified that can help to close this attainment gap. This study explores the delivery of Catch Up® Literacy – a reading intervention typically delivered by teachers or teaching assistants in schools for struggling readers. This evaluation was carried out to assess whether the Catch Up® Literacy intervention could be successfully delivered in the home by foster carers. This model of delivery is new to Catch Up® Literacy in terms of both the agents of delivery (i.e. foster carers) and the targeted children (i.e. children in care).

Recruited through local authorities and an independent fostering agency, any child currently in care and in school Years 5 or 6 was eligible to receive the intervention. Foster carers or kinship carers who agreed to participate in the study were trained by Catch Up® to deliver the intervention over a 19-week period. During that time, children would receive 2 15-minute structured reading sessions per week with their carer in the home. Catch Up® provided ongoing support for the carers as well as materials with which to carry out the programme.

The study aims to address the following three research questions.

1. Evidence of feasibility: Can the intervention be successfully delivered by foster carers/kinship carers in the home?

  • Is the Catch Up® Literacy intervention feasible for foster/kinship carers to deliver in the home in terms of acceptability of the training and materials, time commitment and engagement of the children in their care?
  • Is the Catch Up® Literacy intervention perceived to have positive impacts on children’s literacy skills, confidence in and attitudes to reading as reported by children and foster/kinship carers?
  • Is the Catch Up® Literacy intervention perceived to have positive impacts on foster/kinship carers’ own skills and confidence in reading with children in their care as reported by foster/kinship carers?
  • Are there any unintended or negative consequences of the intervention?

2. Readiness for trial: Is Catch Up® Literacy scalable for a randomised controlled trial?

  • What are the resources needed for foster/kinship carers to deliver Catch Up® Literacy (e.g. time for training and support)?
  • How compliant are foster/kinship carers in implementing the intervention (e.g. do they make adaptations, do they deliver all sessions as planned)?
  • How appropriate is the primary outcome measure and how feasible is it to administer this measure remotely?

3. Cost: What is the cost per child of delivering the Catch Up® Literacy intervention?