Social care research in Wales
17 April 2013
The School of Social Sciences has secured significant new funding for research in the field of children's social care.
This funding (more than £0.5M) comprises three research grants awarded to academics in the School. The first of these is a large, four nation project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
Dr Sally Holland will lead a team of researchers from Edinburgh, Queen's and Southampton Universities to investigate how social workers communicate with children in their daily work in Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The TLC project: Social Workers Talking and Listening to Children will research child protection investigations as well as longer-term relationships with children in care. The research will produce new findings in this important area of social work and outputs will include training materials and guidance for practitioners.
The second project, also led by Dr Holland, is an audit of Local Safeguarding Children's Boards in Wales and their responses to child neglect. Neglect is the largest category of concern for children on child protection registers in Wales but it can be difficult to identify, compared with other forms of child abuse.
The research will build a much needed picture of how professionals from social work, health and education currently identify child neglect and will find out more about how local areas allocate resources to attempt to alleviate neglect and how they measure success. The research has been commissioned by the NSPCC, Action for Children and the Welsh Government as part of the development of a Welsh national plan for neglect.
The third project is concerned with the patterns and outcomes of child and family social work over time, as revealed in four major UK cohort studies. These studies (including the Millennium Cohort Study, which follows children born around the turn of the new millennium) have not been used for research on social work contact before and they allow a unique opportunity to compare those who receive social work services with the rest of the population.
The Nuffield Foundation is funding the study, which will have important implication for services to vulnerable children. Professor Jonathan Scourfield is leading the project, with colleagues from Cardiff and from the University of Sussex.
Together these projects build on a strong tradition of research in the field of children's social work at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences. The funding, from research councils, charities and the Welsh Government, is a boost for research and practice in this vital area of social care in Wales.