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Research has focused on Children and young people known to and in the care of social services. Specific areas of interest include a) young children's rights as defined under the UNCRC; their evolving capacities and their participation in decision making b) young children’s relationships and communication with families, professionals and carers c) children’s health, education and social wellbeing; placements and outcomes d) early intervention support services and their effectiveness.

This research has included projects funded by the ESRC, local government and the voluntary sector. The focus of most recent ESRC research has been on communication with children and parents during social worker visits using innovative methods and the production of a rare, large qualitative dataset. The other is one of the first RCT’s with children in care reviewing the effectiveness of a paired reading approach in improving reading outcomes. Other related projects have assessed the effectiveness of school based interventions for children in care and of family support services to prevent children coming into care. 

The objective of the research activity is to make a difference to the lives of children and young people in care.

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Open to PhD applications in the field of 

  • Children and young people in care
  • Experiences of care (foster care, kinship care, residential child care, adoption)
  • Outcomes and state care (including education, health and placement types)
  • Children’s rights and social work
  • Relationship based practice
  • Early intervention/prevention regarding children on the edge of care
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Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science

School Of Social Sciences, Education And Social Work


Research students

PhD title: Using evidence to develop quality care indicators for children in residential child care

Name: Gerry Marshall
Years of Study: 
Country: Northern Ireland



Alumni: where are they now?

Teresa Brown

PhD title: Hear Our Voice: ‘Social Care Workers’ Views of Effective Relationship-Based Practice

Years of Study: 
Country: Republic of Ireland
Current position: Lecturer in Social Care, Athlone Institute of Technology

Dr Amanda Quail

PhD title: Neighbourhoods and Children’s Emotional and Behavioural Outcomes at 9 years old: A Secondary Analysis of the Growing Up in Ireland Data

Years of Study: 
Country: Republic of Ireland
Current position: Dr Amanda Quail, Senior Research Officer (Survey and Data Manager), Growing up in Ireland

Research at Queen's

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