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Dr Nell Warner

Dr Nell Warner

Research Associate, CASCADE

+44 (0)29 2087 6910
sbarc|spark, Maindy Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ


I am a Research Associate at CASCADE, the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre at Cardiff University.  I am currently the Principal Investigator for a two-year, Health and Care Research Wales funded project looking at the relationship between household risk factors and the later entry of children into local authority care.

My research interests include children’s social care and the looked after system, parenting and family support interventions, the emotional well-being of parents, outcomes for children in adverse family circumstances, quantitative methods and working with administrative data. I have previously contributed to a number of projects in CASCADE looking at different issues relating to children’s social care. My PhD focused on changes in the emotional well-being of parents with young children receiving home visiting support from Home-Start.


After an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, I had an early career teaching secondary school science in both Cardiff and Uganda.  I then spent fourteen years working for the children’s umbrella organisation Children in Wales, in a policy and information-based role before returning to academia.   My PhD focused on home visiting support provided to families with young children by Home-Start UK.  It used Home-Start’s administrative data to look at how a family’s situation and the way support is provided, are related to changes in emotional well-being among parents receiving support.   I have been working as a Research Associate at CASCADE since May 2018, initially contributing to a wide range of projects being carried out for What Works for Children’s Social Care.  I am now the Principal Investigator of a two-year, Health and Care Research Wales funded project looking at the relationship between household risk factors and the later entry of children into local authority care.









Current Research

Children in households with substance misuse, domestic violence or mental health problems: Who is at risk of entering care?
I am the Principal Investigator for this two-year, Health and Care Research Wales funded project looking at the relationship between household risk factors and the later entry of children into local authority care.  It is being carried out within the context of increasing care rates in Wales, and the wide variations in these across Welsh local authorities.  It is a mixed methods study, the quantitative arm of which, is utilising linked administrative datasets to look at the likelihood of a child entering care when there are indications of specific problems in the household.  These problems include mental health issues, substance misuse and domestic violence. The study is exploring how the likelihood of a child from a household with these problems going into care varies across Welsh local authorities, and how it has varied over the years since 2002. It is also considering how this relates to the prevalence of these problems and deprivation in an area. The results will be used to identify local authorities where the rates of care entry for children from families with specific problems are lower than the average or have decreased over time. Such cases will be followed up by focus groups with those working in children’s and/or adult services to find out if there are any elements of policy or practice that may account for the differences. The project will run from October 2020 to September 2022.

Previous Research

Between May 2018 and September 2020 I worked on a range of projects being carried out at CASCADE Cardiff University for What Works for Children’s Social Care. This included contributing to evidence reviews and a number of empirical research projects.  Research projects included:

  • Secure Accommodation, Completed September 2020 - I was part of the research team investigating the backgrounds and outcomes of young people referred to secure accommodation in England. The study used linked administrative data sets to compare the backgrounds and outcomes of young people placed in secure accommodation, with those who were referred but not placed. My role focused on the analysis of Children in Need data, to identify the young people’s prior involvement with children’s services.
  • Higher Education of Care Experienced Young People, Completed May 2020 - This project was a mixed methods study seeking to understand the factors that are associated with care-experienced young people applying for Higher Education and how they can be supported to do so.  I led on the quantitative arm of the project, which used the Next Steps dataset to explore how the aspirations of care-experienced young people to apply for Higher Education differ from those who are not care experienced and how this changes over time.
  • Outcomes Focused Supervision, Pilot Study, Completed January 2020 - This study was carried out in Birmingham Children’s Trust, and explored the feasibility of implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of Outcomes Focused Supervision in children’s services.  Data was being collected at three time points, from social workers, and social work supervisors, with limited data collected from the families they work with. I led on the quantitative analysis for the study.

Doctoral Research: Home Visiting Support for Parents in adverse situations, the nature of support and parental emotional well-being, completed 2018
My PhD examined the relationship between family circumstances, the nature of support and improvements in parental emotional well-being among families receiving home visiting support.  It was co-sponsored by Home-Start UK and the ESRC.  The Home-Start model of family support was used as a case study and the research carried out through the quantitative analysis of Home-Start’s administrative data.  Models were developed to explore changes in emotional well-being over the course of support among families in different circumstances and receiving different types of support.



Sofia Grammenos, Social Work Masters, Social Media: social workers’ views on its applications, benefits and drawbacks for professional practice

Current supervision


Aimee Cummings

Research student

Past projects