Clive Sellick

Clive Sellick


  • 1.09 Elizabeth Fry Building

Personal profile

Areas of Expertise

Foster care, esp. for children placed in independent fostering agencies.



Dr Sellick is an Emeritus Reader in Social Work.  His research interest is fostering especially the role and function of independent fostering providers.  He conducted six linked studies between 1998 and 2011 and is the author and joint author of many articles, books and book chapters arising from this research.  He was engaged in two major studies of adoption support for birth relatives and contact funded by the UK Government's Department for Children, Schools and Families and of Care Planning for Permanence in Foster Care funded by the Nuffield Foundation.  Dr Sellick is a former Social Worker and Team Leader.  He is a magistrate.


Key Research Interests

Dr Sellick’s research interest is in evaluating fostering services across the public, private and voluntary sectors.  His relevant research includes an evaluation of an independent fostering provider (IFP) in 1998, a national survey of IFPs in mainland Britain in 2002 for the Fostering Network, a review of innovative fostering practice in the UK for the Social Care Institute for Excellence in 2004 and a study of contracting arrangements between local authorities and IFPs in 2005.  He was jointly commissioned with Dr Beth Neil, Dr Paula Lorgelly and others by the Department for Children, Schools and Families in researching adoption support services for birth relatives and for contact across England and Wales.  This has brought together his research interest in family placement in the non-governmental sector and allowed him  to consider the role, functions and future of independent fostering providers as well as voluntary adoption and adoption support agencies.


Commissioning Permanent Fostering Placements from Independent Fostering Providers (IFPs)

This was an exploration of the role of IFPs in providing long term and permanent fostering placements for children from six local authorities in England and Wales.  This is part of a larger study of care planning systems.  This component of the study has comprised interviews with commissioning staff of the local authorities and with managers and operational staff of six IFPs.  These interviews have added to what is known about commissioning frameworks and processes, the practical and operational understandings of the meaning of permanence in foster care, policy and practice in respect of the stage at which IFP placements are commissioned, working relationships and arrangements between commissioning and provider agencies and likely future directions, particularly at a time of political change in the UK.

Researching Adoption Support Services: for Birth Relatives; for Contact, 2007

New adoption legislation aims to improve adoption support services and this research project will evaluate how agencies are translating these policy objectives into practice, providing an evidence base for further development. The phase 1 mapping exercise has gathered information about service provision from children’s services, adoption support agencies and voluntary adoption agencies in England and Wales and more detailed information from 60 of these of these through telephone interviews. In addition approximately 10-15 agencies have taken part in two focus group meetings: one for each of the separate support areas.


Commissioning Foster Care, 2005

Local authorities in Britain have been purchasing foster placements and related services from independent fostering agencies or providers (IFPs) for many years.  These are often made on an unplanned or ‘spot purchased’ basis and many local authorities have incurred significant budgetary overspends or been criticised for poor child care practice.  In parts of the United States and Australia governments have required public authorities to ‘outsource’ all or most of their foster care responsibilities to private or voluntary agencies.  Where these have been independently evaluated a number of deficits have been identified.  A middle position of local authorities and IFPs entering into service level or contractual agreements has emerged in Britain where each sector attempts to plan and match its respective needs and services and to predict and control costs.  This study examined how some local authority and IFP managers have developed working arrangements with one another in order to achieve this position by conducting a series of interviews with local authority and IFP managers.  Twenty members of staff were interviewed individually, in pairs or in clusters and provide five case studies in respect of three models of contracting.  At a time when the British government is providing a strong policy steer towards inter-sector commissioning in foster care this study provides a framework for collaboration.

A Review of Good Practice in Fostering, 2003

This review of local authority and non-statutory fostering agencies in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales was commissioned, following a competitive tendering process, by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). Innovative or established (tried and tested) fostering practice was tested in relation to six categories: recruiting and training foster carers; retaining carers and creating job satisfaction; creating placement choice; fostering children with complex and special needs; providing additional services to children and young people placed; and evaluating fostering services through user participation.  Seventy five agencies returned documentation which was scrutinised.  Follow up telephone interviews took place with staff from 50 selected fostering agencies in order to gain practice examples of fostering across all sectors.  This material was filtered in two ways:  firstly by assessing its relevance in respect of the six key categories and secondly by applying research evidence about what is known to be effective in fostering.

A National Survey of Independent Fostering Agencies, 2001/2

A questionnaire survey of all known IFAs in mainland Britain.  Ninety eight agencies were sent questionnaires with 55 returned – a response rate of just over 60% -examining each agency’s organisational arrangements, fees, services, staffing, foster carers and the circumstances of the children and young people placed in the study year.  Agencies were also asked to complete a schedule on each of the last ten children/young people placed.  Detailed information was obtained on 513 children.

Data from the questionnaires and schedules were coded and entered into the statistical programme for the social sciences (SPSS).