Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Short Project Descriptions

Show all news items

Exploring Innovation in Transition (EXIT) for Young People Leaving Care

Leads: Prof Graeme Currie (Organisational Science), Prof Robin Miller (Social Care)

The project team are working closely with two care leavers, as study advisors, and five care leavers as study co-researchers (each contributing about 100 hours per year to the project).

Dates: December 2019 - November 2023


Young people looked after (YPLA) face complex challenges as they make the transition from care to adulthood. The support that care leavers receive from Local Authorities varies, but in a report by the National Audit Office (2015), it has been recognised that measures need to be taken to improve their experience of transition and outcomes. In turn, this has created a dynamic space in which innovative ideas, interventions, and practices have emerged, but for innovation to be effective, it must go beyond simply a good idea at the local-level and needs to become sustainable and adopted more widely.

Policy and Practice Partners:

Birmingham City Council, Birmingham’s Children’s Trust, Mental Health Trusts, Local Authorities.

Co-Funding Partners:

Birmingham City Council, Birmingham’s Children’s Trust.

Aims and Objectives:

  • Explore what innovation currently exists across the United Kingdom for young people leaving care.
  • Identify what helps or hinders how innovation is put into practice.
  • Find ways about how the wider spread of innovation can be better supported so.
  • Innovation makes a difference to care leavers.
  • Evaluate outcomes of innovation across leaving care processes in four ways:
    1. how it spreads;
    2. how it is adapted;
    3. how it affects young people leaving care;
    4. implementation costs.
  • Uncover the journey of meaningful innovation, what adaptations are necessary for it to spread, and the effect of this on outcomes.


Undertaking a review of the ‘grey literature’ (non-academic sources of information), we mapped the innovation landscape for YPLA leaving care. Central to the review process were five steps: 1) define terms, 2) decide inclusion/exclusion criteria, 3) decide time-frame brackets, 4) decide geography, and 5) identify likely sources of data.

The search was undertaken across the relevant grey sources. Many of the sites did not have layered search capabilities. This limited the search terms that could be used, and thus, were adapted according to the functionality and capability to manage searching of given websites.

Main Results:

  • Reviewing the grey literature on innovation for YPLA leaving care has highlighted the geographical extent of innovation around the United Kingdom. It has also surfaced what areas of the transition process are being addressed by various innovation.
  • Geographic variation in innovation - Focusing down onto the regional-level was more illuminating, with London strongly represented and the north of England the most dominant region for innovation. The Midlands, and South West of England had comparatively fewer innovations. Finally, for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland there were less examples of innovation.
  • Transition domains - We identified innovations addressing nine different areas of transition to adulthood: Three transition domains were not well supported by innovation. Independent living skills was the least supported. However, this category captured only specific training programmes targeting independence skills and for wellbeing. This was often a by-product of innovation addressing social transition. Wellbeing was not linked to health, as is traditionally the case, and health transition was not well supported by innovation.
  • Transition frameworks - Mapping our nine categories against those of known frameworks revealed similarity and differences. Points of convergence were around employment, education and training (EET). Health and wellbeing are conflated in both approaches, yet our analysis highlights innovation for health transition is not only over-looked but does not include notions of wellbeing. All approaches found housing or accommodation to be common, and relationships, which we referred to as social transition. Additionally, we included a category called atypical transition. No categories in existing frameworks to describe notions of empowerment.


Our review highlights five strategic recommendations for policy makers and practitioners to consider in future development of innovation.

  1. Harnessing experience and sharing knowledge.
  2. Innovation for healthcare transition.
  3. Empowering care leavers.
  4. A shared outcomes and transition framework.
  5. Improving evaluation of innovation.

Implications for Implementation:


Project Website: