Tackling child poverty delivery plan: fourth year progress report 2021-2022 - focus report on households with babies under one

Evidence about child poverty in households with a baby under one. The report presents the latest data on the child poverty targets and includes further evidence on the drivers of child poverty among this priority group.

Annex A: Research Methods

The findings presented in this paper are based on a mixed-methods research project, consisting of:

  • updates on statistics for the child poverty targets and indicators of the measurement framework
  • a rapid evidence review to uncover specific challenges and facilitators for families a child under 2 in poverty
  • qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 14 families with a baby under 2 living on a low income.

A Research Advisory Group was established for the project. A mix of Scottish Government teams and external organisations were represented on the Group. The remit of the Group was to provide oversight, advice, challenge and feedback and contribute to quality assurance. After one initial virtual meeting, the Group mainly fed in over email. The Group fed into aspects of the project including:

  • overall research design, scope and criteria for success
  • ethics
  • evidence review
  • recruitment of participants
  • emerging findings
  • interview guides
  • research outputs.

The rapid evidence review was conducted first, to establish what we already knew about this priority group, including the causes of a higher poverty rate and barriers families with a child under one face to reducing their living costs and increasing income from employment and social security. The search of evidence covered a wide range of sources and included reviewing online databases, existing Scottish Government research and identifying and searching stakeholder websites for relevant empirical evidence to include in the review. Searches were carried out using keywords to capture the range of poverty drivers (including poverty, low income, employment, work, social security, benefits, education, training, skill, cost, transport, childcare and young people, young mothers, young parents and parents). The searches were carried out separately across the different sources but then cross-referenced against each other to identify areas of overlap and cross-cutting themes. Due to the limited amount of evidence available for young mothers around some of the poverty drivers evidence from the past 15 years was reviewed, although findings from the past 5-8 years was prioritised in analysis when available.

The key findings from the evidence review were used to inform an interview guide, designed both to further explore key barriers identified for this group and to fill some of the key gaps in evidence that were identified. These evidence gaps included:

  • Understanding more about parents having the choice to return to work or stay at home with their child and whether support is available to allow them to make the best choice for them.
  • Further barriers around costs of living, particularly in terms of housing costs.
  • Any gaps in provision or extra support that would be helpful by existing benefits targeted at families with a baby (e.g. baby box, Best Start Grants and Best Start Foods etc).
  • The extent to which having as a baby can act as a trigger for falling into poverty and how families navigate the transition with a new baby and the financial pressures it can bring.

We spoke to 14 parents of children under 2. Although the priority group is 'families with a child under one', we included parents with children under 2 in our interviews to capture the full range of experience of pregnancy and their child's first year.

Participants were mainly recruited via partner organisations who shared information about the research with parents that they work with. Participants came to us via organisations including Early Years Scotland, Family Nurse Partnership (Tayside), One Parent Families Scotland and the Scottish Childminding Association. We also posted about the research on Facebook pages, and some participants found us via this route. Interviews were conducted via telephone or video call, between 12 May and 1 June 2022.

Participants received a £25 shopping e-voucher after their interview as a thank you for giving us their time and sharing their lived experiences and views.

Our recruitment routes mean that we mainly captured parents who were already engaged with support services. This will be reflected in our data. This may have meant that some of the parents we spoke to were more likely to be experiencing particular issues with which they were receiving support from these organisations. We are perhaps less likely to have captured the views of parents who are not engaged with support services.

We allowed people to self-identify as parents living on a low income, through stating upfront in our recruitment and information materials that this was who we were interested in speaking to. Therefore, the data and analysis reflects a range of experiences, from parents living in relative or severe poverty to those on the borderline of living on a low income.

The 14 parents we spoke to included 7 lone parents, 8 parents from a family where someone was disabled, parent where the parents were from a minority ethnic background, and 3 parents who had 3 or more children. Lone parents are parents who do not currently live with another adult that they are in a relationship with. Some of the parents we spoke to had a partner that they were not living with when we spoke to them. All of the parents we spoke to live in either a town or city and all of them were mothers (we did not speak to any fathers). Therefore, the research is limited in the sense that it did not capture the experiences or views of families living in rural areas nor did it directly capture the views of fathers.

Out of the parents that we spoke to, 4 were under 20, 6 were aged 20-25 and 4 were aged 26+. A high proportion of the mothers we spoke to were aged 25 or under as the recruitment for this project was undertaken alongside recruitment for the report on families with a mother under 25. The children in these families ranged from just a few months old to 2 years old.

These qualitative, semi-structured interviews allowed us to explore complex areas and gain an in-depth understanding of our participants' experiences, views, choices and behaviours. However, this was a small piece of research and findings cannot be generalised to the wider population. Findings from these interviews are integrated throughout the report, including with quotes and case studies (where names and some details have been changed), alongside secondary data. Notes were taken during interviews but they were not audio or video recorded, therefore quotes are not necessarily verbatim.



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