LYPSA: Improving LGBTQ+ Young People’s 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+ young people in residential social care, the second will test the effectiveness of an online training programme for social workers working with LGBTQ+ youth.

LYPSA Call for Participants posterWhilst 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 led by Dr Jason Schaub in collaboration with  What Works 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 June 2022 and March 2023.

Study 1 has concluded and will be reporting soon. Scoping Review Report now available.

Study 2 is now recruiting social workers in England to help test an online CPD-accredited training programme for supporting LGBTQ+ young people. Please see the call for participants and participant information sheet. If you’d like to participate, please complete our Register Your Interest form.

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 scoping 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.

Available outputs:

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

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.

We are currently recruiting children’s social workers in England to take part in this study. Interested participants must be employed by an English local authority and work in children’s social care services. Managers, senior managers and supervising social workers of foster carers are also eligible, provided they are employed by a local authority. Participants will receive a £10 voucher as an incentive for participation. 

For more information, please see the following:

If you'd like to participate, please complete our Register Your Interest form.

Primary research question

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

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