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Dr Hayes’main research interests include service user experiences of the child protection and criminal justice systems, the involvement of family members in child protection and child welfare processes and methods for facilitating such involvement, the practice and experiences of professionals who operate the child protection system, and social work assessment and decision making in child welfare.

This research has included recent work on:

  • the use of family group conferences, both with children and families and adults,
  • an evaluation of the Safety in Partnership/Signs of Safety approach to child and family social work,
  • the use of the voluntary sector to provide services to children and families,
  • an evaluation of the Families Matter programme designed to help improve and maintain relationships between children and their imprisoned fathers,
  • An analysis of complaints made about child and family social workers to the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the Patient and Client Council

The objective of the research activity is to identify ways in which the experiences of both those delivering and receiving child protection and welfare services can be improved.

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Open to PhD applications in the field of 

  • The involvement of family members and children and young people in child protection and welfare processes
  • Service user experiences of the child protection and criminal justice systems
  • Child protection social work practice
  • Assessment and decision-making in work with children and families
  • Family group conferencing
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  • Dr Haye's work has led to increased understanding of the impact of social work interventions on children and families 
    and the challenges facing social workers working in the area of child protection and safeguarding.
  • The evaluation of the Safety in Partnership/Signs of Safety model in the Western Health and Social Care Trust
    contributed to the decision to adopt the Signs of Safety approach across all of the Health and Social Care Trusts in
    Northern Ireland.


Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

School Of Social Sciences, Education And Social Work

Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation 

Research students

PhD title: Exploring the use of the Mapping Tool in group supervision for Social Workers working in Child Maltreatment

Name:Ciara McKillop
Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland

PhD title: ‘Exploring the Impact of Pre-Proceedings Meetings in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’

Name: Oisin Martin
Years of Study:
Country: Northern Ireland


Alumni: where are they now?

Dr Michael Hoy

PhD title: The Participation Promise of Family Group Conferencing – Theory or Practice?

Years of Study:
Country: Northern Ireland
Current position: Assistant Director Children's Services, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust


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