Dr Justin Rogers

Lecturer in Social Work 
The Open University

 
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Dr Justin Rogers is a social worker by training and comes from a practice background working with children and young people in alternative care. He has worked in local authority fostering and adoption teams in the United Kingdom and he also has experience of managing a secure unit that accommodated young people in conflict with law.

Justin recently held the post of Assistant Professor in Social Work at the University of Bath and maintains an affiliation as a visiting fellow in the Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy.

Currently working at The Open University as a social work academic. His research interests focus on child protection and alternative care. He is committed to understanding children and young people’s experiences of alternative care and promoting their voices to inform policy and practice.

Recently completed a research project with colleagues at Thammasat University that explored children's experiences of alternative care in Thailand. We undertook 59 qualitative interviews with children and young people and engaged 143 in art activities. In total the project  reached 160 children. The children were all living in a range of different care settings from Temples to Government Children’s homes. We accessed 13 different care providers across four different locations, Central (BKK & Pattaya), North (Tak & Chiang Mai), North East (NongKhai), South (Songkhla & Hat Yai). We have also recently managed to interview 20 parents/guardians of children placed in care from three different regions. 

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Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Civic crowdfunding of social work research: Opportunities, challenges and strategies.

November 2021

Civic crowdfunding for research purposes has been an emerging trend in scientific fields over the past few years. This article presents findings from a mixed methods analysis of 152 social science research projects that campaigned for crowdfunding. A total of US$583,074 was raised through the support of 6,663 backers amongst the 150 successfully funded projects. This study offers specific lessons for social work researchers engaging in crowdfunding campaigns. The data show that projects supported by endorsers and initiated by faculties were able to solicit more backers and funds. Another key finding is that the campaigns that had videos for promotional purposes were the most successful, but video length does not affect backers’ consideration. The article presents the potential ethical challenges for social work researchers in this crowdfunding arena. In what may first appear to be a democratic and emancipatory space, decisions are actually made about what topics are worthy of financing by people who have access to the online platforms and the disposable income to back the project. Nevertheless, these platforms offer a route to research funding for academics, practitioners and service user groups in a context where funding from research councils and foundations is increasingly limited and competitive.

Book Chapter: Reflections on a community based participatory research project with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children

 2021

Civic crowdfunding for research purposes has been an emerging trend in scientific fields over the past few years. This article presents findings from a mixed methods analysis of 152 social science research projects that campaigned for crowdfunding. A total of US$583,074 was raised through the support of 6,663 backers amongst the 150 successfully funded projects. This study offers specific lessons for social work researchers engaging in crowdfunding campaigns. The data show that projects supported by endorsers and initiated by faculties were able to solicit more backers and funds. Another key finding is that the campaigns that had videos for promotional purposes were the most successful, but video length does not affect backers’ consideration. The article presents the potential ethical challenges for social work researchers in this crowdfunding arena. In what may first appear to be a democratic and emancipatory space, decisions are actually made about what topics are worthy of financing by people who have access to the online platforms and the disposable income to back the project. Nevertheless, these platforms offer a route to research funding for academics, practitioners and service user groups in a context where funding from research councils and foundations is increasingly limited and competitive.

A scoping review of the research that explores children’s experiences of alternative care in Southeast Asia

November 2021

The potential harm caused by Residential Care Settings (RCSs) on children’s development is well documented. However, there appears to be a paucity of published research on RCSs across mainland Southeast Asia. This scoping review focuses on available research articles that directly, or indirectly, engage with children to explore their experiences of living in RCSs in the region. A comprehensive search of four digital academic libraries was conducted, and 23 articles were included in the review. Most of the studies identified were on residential care settings in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia, with no studies identified from Myanmar or Vietnam. The review found that the 23 available studies had used a variety of qualitative research methods to document children’s experiences of care. However, findings reveal that adult research informants were often used to report their perceptions of the children’s experiences. As a result, in some countries like Thailand, there is currently an absence of studies that have engaged directly with children. The review highlights clear research gaps, for example, no studies were found that explored the historical context, purpose, or culture of the residential care settings. Accordingly, this review argues that it is important for further research to address these gaps, as this missing empirical evidence could contribute to improving alternative care for children and potentially support the growing movement towards family-based care in the region.

‘It’s so much better than contact’; children and young people’s experiences of sibling camps in the UK.

August 2020

This article explores children and young people’s experiences of a sibling camp based in the UK. Sibling camps are an intervention based on children’s activity holidays that aim to promote meaningful contact for siblings separated in public care. This study adopted a qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews with eleven children and young people, this included one sibling group of three and four sibling groups of two. The children’s ages ranged from 8-17 years old and they had all attended at least one camp with their sibling. Findings highlighted how the children valued the extended time they could spend with their siblings at camp and how they felt this enabled them to better understand their siblings and improve their relationships. Findings also showed how the children developed close supportive relationships with the staff at the camps, who ensured they were cared for and they also supported them with managing their relationships, which some participants acknowledged at times could be challenging. The participants also valued spending time with other sibling groups who also experienced separation.  The study found camps provided a space for these children to maintain links with their siblings but also to strengthen their sibling bonds.

Is the deinstitutionalisation of alternative care a ‘wicked problem’? A qualitative study exploring the perceptions of child welfare practitioners and policy actors in Thailand.

July 2020

This study examined deinstitutionalisation in Thailand. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a total of 27 child welfare practitioners and policy actors to explore their perceptions of Thai alternative care provision. Findings show that participants perceive deinstitutionalisation as a complex policy challenge. Some felt that the institutions were necessary in order to meet demand, while others felt that cultural barriers prevent a shift to family-based approaches, such as foster care. However, data suggest that it would be difficult to characterise deinstitutionalisation as a ‘wicked policy problem’ as participants were hopeful for change, citing increased family- strengthening policies alongside efforts to implement foster care.

Young people transitioning from out-of-home care: What are the lessons from extended care programs in USA and England for Australia

April 2020

Young people transitioning from out-of-home care (generally called care leavers) are recognised globally as a vulnerable group. In the last eighteen months, four Australian jurisdictions have extended state care till twenty-one years in an attempt to advance the life opportunities of this cohort. These initiatives are strongly influenced by extended care programmes in the USA and England, which have reported improved outcomes for care leavers. This article interrogates formal public evaluations of these extended care programmes with a particular focus on their eligibility criteria that have determined which groups of care leavers are included or alternatively excluded and the identified strengths and limitations of the programmes. Additionally, we consider cross-cultural differences in leaving care populations and variations within the broader social policy context of these jurisdictions, which may also impact on the effectiveness of policy transfer. Some conclusions are drawn about key factors that may enhance the success of extended care programmes.

Book Review, A Childs World 3rd Edition,

March 2020

I feel the need to start this review with something of a reflective disclaimer, where I acknowledge I have an attachment to previous editions of this textbook! I started on a diploma in social work course in 2001, around the time the first edition was published. I found it to be vital resource that helped inform my practice on placement, as well as being a go to source for references in my essays. In recent years, as a lecturer, I have been teaching social work with children and families to second and third year students and I have highly recommended this text,

Mutual Benefits

February 2018

This paper presents a community based participatory research project, which adopted a photovoice approach with seven unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) living in foster care in the United Kingdom. The project also included a focus group with six foster carers to explore their perceptions of caring for UASCs. At the end of the focus group we then shared the young people's images from the photovoice project. The purpose of this was to better inform the carers understanding of this group's needs and the reality of their lived experiences, to see if this would have any impact on their perceptions or willingness to offer these children a placement in the future. The young people then developed the photographs into posters, which were shown at community events and exhibited in community spaces during refugee week.

Findings from the focus group show that some of these carers had anxieties and held misconceptions around caring for UASCs. This highlights the need for practitioners to engage in open conversations with foster carers, to discuss their perceptions and challenge any misconceptions. Furthermore, the project identified that some of these carers were concerned about being able to meet the cultural needs of the young people. Foster carers also seemed unaware of the available support in place to help with this. Therefore, it would be beneficial for foster care services and practitioners to ensure that carers are fully informed of the support and training available to them to assist in meeting UASCs cultural, religious and linguistic needs. The project also presents important lessons for researchers committed to finding ways to engage UASCs meaningfully in the research process. The action orientated approach of photovoice led to a wide range of public engagement activities, that allowed us to show important aspects of the young people's lived realities growing up in foster care.

Eco-Maps and Photo-Elicitation

February 2017

This paper reflects on the methodological approach adopted during a study which explored the experiences of young people in foster care in the United Kingdom (UK). The study used a novel combination of visual methods, which included eco-maps and photo elicitation. The paper begins with a brief account of the context of foster care in the UK, and provides an overview of the theoretical framework that underpinned the study. The two main sections of the paper provide an overview of the two different visual research methods that were used, eco-maps and then photo elicitation. These sections include examples where these approaches have previously been used in research, as well as reflections on their application in this study. The challenges and the benefits of using visual research methods with children and young people in foster care are considered throughout. The paper concludes by arguing that these chosen methods were of value as they enabled the collection of important data that may otherwise have gone unobserved.

Different and Devalued

June  2017

This paper presents findings from a study that explored the experiences of young people living in foster care in the United Kingdom (UK). Previous research highlights that children and young people in foster care experience stigma. Qualitative methods were chosen to explore how the young people in this study experience and manage stigma in their day to day lives.

Findings provide valuable insights into how the participants cope with the challenges of stigma. There were two key ways they did this; 1) by carefully managing the disclosure of their ‘in care’ status; 2) by drawing support from their social relationships. Furthermore, the participants particularly valued support from their peers who were also living in foster care, as it enabled them to form an in-group, which presented them with a valuable sense of belonging.

These findings have implications for practice and this paper proposes two ways to better support young people in foster care to cope with stigma. Firstly, by valuing the importance of friendship groups and enabling young people to maintain their existing friendships. Secondly, by developing more opportunities that bring fostered young people together, which enables them to interact with their peers without the pressure of managing stigma.

British Journal of Social Work

Rejecting 'the child', embracing 'childhood'

November 2016

It has been well established within contemporary social studies of childhood that (a) childhood is a social construction, and (b) children are to be considered social agents capable of producing valid data about their own experience. Yet, while these principles resonate with social work scholars on a theoretical basis, there remains a need to consider how social work researchers might better incorporate this theoretical perspective into research methodologies and fieldwork strategies. This discussion paper seeks to address this gap.


This paper is divided into two key sections. The first considers how notions of ‘childhood’ as a social construction diverges from normative, uniform, and universal ideas of what might otherwise constitute ‘the child.’ The second part of this paper then considers this discussion in regards to social work research. It considers the extent to which childhood scholarship has been used within the discipline of social work and illustrates this point by drawing upon recent contributions to foster care literature.

Book Chapter: Fostering and Adoption

February  2014

This chapter provides an overview of social work practice in the field of family placement. Family placement services within the context of the United Kingdom (UK) and more specifically the English public care system are introduced. The different practice areas within family placement are discussed, which includes fostering, kinship care, private fostering, respite care and adoption. The key roles and responsibilities of social workers who practice in this field are examined, which focuses on some of the possible practice opportunities a student may experience whilst undertaking a placement in a family placement service. For example, completing assessments, attending panels, undertaking duty, as well as providing on-going support and supervision to placements. The key theories that inform practice in this field are highlighted and discussed with a specific focus on attachment theory. The chapter concludes by exploring the benefits and challenges within family placement provision. The ethical, cultural and anti-oppressive dimensions that are inherent within family placement practice will be considered throughout the chapter.

Anti-Oppressive Social Work Research

October  2012

This paper is based on the development of a framework that conceptualises forms of power in social work research. Its aim is to encourage readers to critically reflect on potentially oppressive manifestations of power in social work research. The article draws on Lukes' model of power and Gould's subsequent framework which contributed to anti-racist teaching in social work education. Gould's framework is reinterpreted and applied to a differing context: social work research. The field of social work research is explored through this framework, highlighting potentially oppressive manifestations of power and suggesting anti-oppressive strategies. The model is then applied to social work education and specifically the teaching of research methods. The paper concludes by suggesting curriculum guidelines that promote the teaching of anti-oppressive social work research methods.

Publications: Non-Academic Press

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Rogers, J., Mendes, P. & Thomas, I., (2020) Care leavers and COVID-19: A time for even greater state and community responsibility, ABC Australia, available from: https://ab.co/2LCCmb5

 

Rogers, J., (2019) ‘Reasons to be Hopeful: 2019 could see a welcome UN resolution for children growing up in institutional care’, The IPR Blog, available from: https://goo.gl/jouc7u

 

Rogers, J., (2019) ‘Sharing their Narratives’, Safe Child Thailand Blog, available from: https://rb.gy/a62fyd

 

Rogers, J., (2017) ‘There is space for lone refugee children in Britain, but the government isn’t trying to find it’, The Conversation, available from https://goo.gl/uUsDVY

 

Rogers, J., (2015) ‘The government must match public support for fostering refugees’, The Guardian, 15th September, p.42, available from: http://goo.gl/ZVjULo

 

Rogers, J., (2015) ‘Leaving care is hard enough without the system favouring those who are fostered’, The Conversation, available from:  https://goo.gl/QKN5q4

 

Rogers, J., (2014) ‘Routinely separating siblings in public care is unacceptable’ [Online], The Conversation, available from:  https://goo.gl/43NBCn

 

Rogers, J., (2014) ‘Stronger contact with previous carers would give foster children a greater sense of belonging’, [Online], The Conversation, available from:  https://goo.gl/AN06Cu

Twenty suicides of care experienced people in custody: A scoping review of the Ombudsman’s fatal incident reports for care experienced people who died in custodial settings between 2004 and 2020. 

January 2022

This article presents a scoping review of the Prison and Probation Ombudsman’s (PPO) reports into fatal incidents from 2004- 2020. The review focuses on the reports of people who died in custody due to suicide and specifically those that had a care experience. Data shows that there continues to be a high number of suicides in the prison system (Skinner and Farringdon 2020). The reasons for people completing suicide are often complex and nuanced with each person’s loss of life having an individual context. However, statistics show there is an over representation of people with mental health and substance abuse difficulties in custody and when this is combined with the stress of life in prisons it presents an environment where suicide is prevalent (Sirdifield et al. 2009).

It is well documented that people with a care experience are over-represented in the adult prison system and the secure estate for children and young people (Taylor 2003). It is important to highlight that most care leavers do not commit crime and that there are many amazingly resilient care experienced people who are prominent in sport, the media, politics, academia, and other institutions (Rogers 2017).  It is also important to highlight that there have been advances in supporting this group in custody. For example, HMPSS have worked with Barnados to develop a toolkit for prison staff to best support care leavers (Barnados 2019). However, this is not a static accomplishment and there are many areas where their support and care are lacking, and they remain vulnerable to poor outcomes on leaving care and challenges across their life course