Our Work

We work with children’s services - social care, youth justice, education and health - in England and Wales, with central government departments, and with a wide range of voluntary organisations.

Although our current work reflects the changing themes and concerns in children’s services, our approach and our aims stay the same – to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of vulnerable children.

Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) Partnership at the Centre for Justice Innovation April 2019 to April 2022

Working as partners with CJI to support existing FDAC sites, promote the expansion of FDAC generally, and to support set up in new FDAC sites receiving funding under the DfE and What Works Centre’s Supporting Families, Investing in Practice Programme and the set-up of the first pilot FDAC in Wales under funding from the Welsh Government. The work has included developing a three day induction training programme for new FDAC sites.

Themed audit of older children in care proceedings

Working with local authorities in England and Wales to analyse tracked data and electronic social care records for children. To increase understanding of the circumstances of children 10 and older in proceedings; identify the reasons for care, including extra-familial harm and exploitation; and learn more about the overlap between family justice, youth justice and deprivation of liberty. A project arising out of six years of tracking cases in four local authorities by the South London Care Proceedings Project (SLCPP).

In collaboration with Celia Parker, and commissioned by Research in Practice as part of the Nuffield FJO programme looking at young people in the Family Justice system.

Parker, C. and Tunnard, J. (2021) Why are older children in care proceedings? A themed audit in four local authorities. London: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

A discussion paper for the Home Office about the Domestic Abuse Strategy.

A policy paper with practical suggestions for the forthcoming comprehensive strategy required of Government by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. The main messages are about the need to promote a cross-departmental public health approach to ending domestic abuse; to pay greater attention to the involvement and role of the family justice system; and to provide sufficient funding for the broad range of interventions needed so that those who are responsible for abuse are offered high challenge/high support to change their behaviour whilst ensuring that the safety and well-being of those who are abused, and of children and others close to them, is paramount at all stages.

Jo Tunnard (November 2021) A discussion paper for the Home Office about the Domestic Abuse Strategy. On behalf of CJI, FRG, RiP and RTB.

Disseminating the learning from ‘Six Years on Track’ by the SLCPP

Promoting the methodology, findings and practice recommendations arising from the ‘stories behind the statistics’ of this case-file audit across four local authorities of children’s current circumstances, six years after the end of care proceedings.

In collaboration with Celia Parker, and commissioned by Research in Practice and the South London Care Proceedings Project.

Online Community of Practice for services supporting parents who experience recurrent care proceedings April 2020- July 2021.

Working as part of a team (Research in Practice, Universities of Lancaster and Essex, and Pause) to support the set up of an online community of practice for all services working to support parents who have had more than one experience of losing their children to care proceedings. The work has involved supporting regular online sessions and events, developing a website of resources, and mapping all the different services working in this area. Funded by Public Health England and the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.


Research in Practice Knowledge Exchange workshops on Pre-Birth Assessment 2019

Developing and delivering four workshops for practitioners building on the messages from research of the Born into Care study by Lancaster University and other research into issues relevant for pre-birth assessment. Developing a Strategic Briefing on the subject for senior managers, drawing on the material for the workshops and the learning from the events.

Care Crisis Review

Working with FRG who facilitated this England and Wales Review, prompted by the rise in care proceedings and number of children in care, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The Review findings were launched in London and Cardiff in July 2018. Social care and family justice stakeholders are now engaged in pursuing the Review’s 20 suggestions about possible changes to local authority and court systems, and national and local policies and practice, to help manage demand in ways that are consistent with achieving the best outcomes for children.

For all the documents about the Review’s activities and findings, including our report about Options for Change, the academic review of evidence about factors contributing to the crisis, and analysis of survey responses from practitioners and family members, click here.


Research in Practice Change Project on Recurrent Care

Project management of this RiP change project, run together with Lancaster and Essex Universities, working with representatives from 12 local authorities on setting up, or further developing, services for women who have had children removed more than once through care proceedings. The project runs from November 2017 to Autumn 2018.

Commissioned by RiP

Working with recurrent care experienced birth mothers resource pack (2019)


FDAC Research Update

As members of the Brunel/Lancaster University research team, we have completed 2 further studies about FDAC.

One is about outcomes 5 years on. It finds that FDAC continues to do better than ordinary care proceedings in terms of substance misuse cessation and family reunification.

The other study is about FDAC court practice across England. It finds that all FDAC judges observed are implementing the problem-solving model and wish to extend it to other types of care cases.

Commissioned by the Department for Education

Care planning and good practice

A series of three-day workshops for practitioners and their managers and supervisors, IROs, and those chairing safeguarding and children in need conferences. Day 1 explores the extent to which the statutory framework (including recent legislative change) supports good social work practice with children and families. Day 2 introduces the analytical assessment framework and focuses on how it supports good practice in general and the formulation and implementation of effective plans in particular. Day 3 is a case study workshop: participants bring their own cases and work together applying the analytical framework to produce plans that are needs led and outcome focused.

Essex County Council

Assessment and Planning for local PAUSE team

Running a series of case study workshops with a newly established PAUSE team, to introduce the analytical framework as a way of supporting sound assessment and a planning process that is easy to understand, allowing women clients to become equal partners in identifying their needs and developing plans to address them.

London Borough of Southwark