LYPSA: Improving LGBTQ+ Young People Experiences of Social Care

The LGBTQ+ Young People in Social Care (LYPSA) project includes two linked studies: the first will qualitatively assess the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in residential care, the second will evaluate an LGBTQ+ training programme for social workers working with LGBTQ+ young people.

LGBTQ recruitment poster thumbnail

Whilst we have some understanding of the difficulties of LGBTQ+ young people’s lives, there are significant gaps in our understanding, particularly about their social care experiences. This project is the first in the UK to gather experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in residential care, and to understand what works and what needs to change to improve LGBTQ knowledge for social workers. The project is a collaboration with the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.

Our approach is collaborative and co-produced. We work closely with various stakeholder groups that are part of – or attached to – the LGBTQ+ youth population groups, such as young people, carers, social workers, policymakers, and representative organisations. Outputs from this study will help move forward strategies to improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in social care settings. Findings from this research are due in December 2021 and March 2023.

There is a call for participants for Study 1: LGBTQ+ Young People in Resident Care. The Participant Privacy Notice details how data is collected, used, stored and disposed of.

Research objectives

STUDY 1: LGBTQ+ Young People in Residential Care

Study 1 will explore the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth who live in residential care, seeking to understand the barriers to progress and specific challenges they face. We will conduct a rapid review of the international literature in the first phase of this study which will include both research and practical knowledge. This will provide a comprehensive review of the global evidence of the experiences of this population in residential care. The second phase of this study will consist of semi-structured interviews with approximately 20 LGBTQ+ young people (aged 16 to 25) who have been in residential care at some point during their care journey.

Primary research question

What are the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in residential care?

Secondary questions

  • Do LGBTQ young people in residential care have particular needs and, if so, what are they?
  • What are the implications of cultural matching for LGBTQ+ young people in residential care?

Project Timeline

  • August 2021 – Review of the evidence, publication of trial protocol, data collection begins
  • October 2021 – Review published via the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website

STUDY 2: LGBTQ+ Training Programme RCT

Study 2 will evaluate an online training programme which aims to improve social workers' knowledge and skills of social work practice with LGBTQ+ young people. This study will involve a Randomised Controlled Trial to assess the effectiveness of the training and use a pre-existing, already widely accessible training course. We will again utilise our co-production methodology to confirm the course's applicability and refine the outcomes we aim to assess.

Primary research question

How effective is the training course in changing knowledge and skills in working with LGBTQ+ youth in social workers?

Secondary questions

Are effects mediated by – baseline knowledge; reminder emails; social and educational characteristics (e.g., gender, age, religious affiliation, ethnicity, length of service etc.)?

Project Timeline

  • October 2021 – Study setup
  • December 2021 – Trial protocol published on the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website
  • January - December 2022 – Implementation of training programme randomised controlled trial
  • March 2023 - Report published via the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website

Outputs and impact

Dissemination activities of this project will include academic journal articles, stakeholder presentations, research reports, professional and public publications, and conference presentations.

Research team


What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care