Ellie Suh and Julie Selwyn

British Journal of Social Work (2022)

There has been growing interest in the Local Authority (LA) variation in rates of admission to care and provision of services but less is known about whether young people’s experience of care varies by LA.

Using survey data from 4,994 looked after young people (aged eleven to eighteen years) from thirty-six English LAs, the analyses focused on LA variation in their subjective well-being.

There was a statistically small LA variation in young people’s responses to individual survey questions except for a question that asked if young people felt they had a trusted adult in their lives. Between 66 per cent and 100 per cent of young people had a trusted adult depending on the LA caring for them.

Positively associated with overall well-being were, being looked after by a non-London LA, a longer length of time in care, fewer placement moves, children’s positive perceptions of a reciprocal trusting relationship with their carer, having a good friend and being male.

Counter-intuitively, LAs with an outstanding or good Ofsted social care or education judgement were associated with a higher proportion of their young people having low well-being.