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Family Policy and Child Welfare

Director of Research - Prof Geraldine Macdonald

The Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare (FPCW) is one of four research groups based at the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work at Queen’s University, Belfast.  It is the leading research centre for social policy research relating to children and their families in Ireland.
The Centre recognises the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of family policy and child welfare.  Its members include those with backgrounds in psychology, sociology, social work, social policy, nursing and history, all of whom have a shared interest in children’s welfare and the family.  We have a vibrant post-graduate community within the School, n of which belong to the Centre for Family Policy and Child Welfare.

The Centre has an extensive programme of research covering children’s lives, focussing on their development and well-being, and how best to secure positive outcomes for those in vulnerable groups.  Centre members also work on parenting, substitute care, safeguarding, and family support.  We also have significant expertise in the evaluation of policy and practice, including the experimental evaluation of complex social interventions, research synthesis and qualitative research.

Our research and consultancy are funded by government departments, Trusts, and voluntary agencies.  Our funders include the UK Research Councils, the Research and Development Office, Northern Ireland, Atlantic Philantropies, the Department of Health, Social Services and Patient Safety, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the NSPCC.

The Centre hosts the Cochrane Developmental Psychosocial and Learning Problems Group.  The Editorial Base of this group is in the process of moving from the University of Bristol to Queen’s.  The scope of this Cochrane group includes developmental and psychosocial problems of childhood and adolescence, learning problems across the lifespan; and personality disorders and adult offending. The group also considers as subjects for systematic review the effects of social and policy interventions which impact on the development of children and adolescents.

The Institute of Child Care Research is a specialist research centre funded by the Research and Development (NI) Office, based within the School.  Many of ICCR’s staff are also members of the Centre.

Other links:
The Centre is affiliated to three initiatives: 

  • the Child Care Research Form is a national organization that brings together researchers, policy makers, managers, practitioners and people who use children’s services
  • the Forum for the Child is a cross faculty initiative supported by the University to promote interdisciplinary working across the University
  • the Improving Children’s Lives – a multi-disciplinary initiative designed to improve the evidence base underpinning interventions in children’s lives


Stephen Coulter
Chaitali Das
John Devaney
Davy Hayes
Kathryn Higgins
Stan Houston
Berni Kelly
Anne Lazenbatt
Dominic McSherry
John Pinkerton
Caroline Skehill
Helga Sneddon
Trevor Spratt
George Wilson
Karen Winter

Postgraduate Students:
Aine Aventin
Laura Duncan
George Dunwoody
Arthur John Gibson
Carole Jean Greer
Deena Haydon
Amanda MacDonald
Patricia McNeilly
Nicoli Morrison
Christine Mullan-Jensen
Carol Newsom
Olga Novozhylova
Rosemond Ofori-Manteaw
Colletta Peta
Seaneen Sloan
Cynthia Sottie


For more information on our current projects click here

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