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Dr Helen Hodges

Dr Helen Hodges

Research Associate, CASCADE

+44 (0)29 2251 0870
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.

My research interests are around the use of administrative data to provide a robust evidence base to inform policy and practice, with my doctoral thesis demonstrating the utility of using Bayesian approaches in the context of risk assessment processes within the youth justice system.  I am currently in receipt of a Health and Care Research Wales Social Grant to build on this with a specific focus on idenitfying opportunities to support children looked after in the youth justice system.

My time is split between two data linkage projects: I am the principal investigator for a HCRW funded project, based in CASCADE (3 days) and for the remainder of the week, I am part of a team working on a Nuffield Family Justice Observatory funded project around discharge of care orders based at University of Bristol.


Prior to returning to academia, I worked in analytical roles in a range of public sector organisations using local authority, police and health data.  My time is currently split between two data linkage projects.


  • PhD in Criminology, Swansea University
  • Masters in Social Research Methods (Social Policy), University of Birmingham
  • Degree predominately in maths and statistics, Open University
  • Masters in Tourism and Leisure, Lancaster University
  • BSc (Hons) Sport, Administration and Science, Nottingham Trent University

Professional memberships

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member of the British Society of Criminology
  • Member of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
  • Member of the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice

Academic positions

  • 2020-present: Research Associate, CASCADE, Cardiff University (PT)
  • 2020-present: Senior Research Associate, Bristol University (PT)
  • 2020-2020: Research Officer, Wales Centre for Public Policy, Cardiff University
  • 2019-2020: Associate Tutor, DACE, Swansea University (PT)
  • 2019-2020: Research Associate, CASCADE, Cardiff University (Secondment)
  • 2017-2019: Research Officer, Wales Centre for Public Policy, Cardiff University
  • 2014-2017: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Swansea University










My research to date has focused on social justice and inequality.  Coming from an interdisciplinary background, this has tended to focus on utilising routine data to support the development of the evidence base to bring about changes in policy and practice.

Current Projects:

Looked after children in the youth justice system (October 2020 - current)

This Health and Care Research Wales funded project focuses upon identifying where there are opportunities to transform young peoples' life chances through the provision of appropriate and timely multi-agency support at ‘crunch points’ whilst under the supervision of the youth offending service.

The project adopts a mixed methods approach combining participatory, arts-based activities with novel statistical techniques to gain insights about the experiences of those with varying degrees of experience of both the youth justice and care system. The quantitative elements of the research will employ data linkage techniques to link data from the risk assessment process used until recently within the youth justice system across England and Wales with routine data from health, social services and education.

Specifically, in the case of children looked after, the project will additionally seek to explore where there may be differences due to legal status, the setting in which they are accommodated and their age of entry into care.  In anticipation of small sub-cohort number and to enhance the potential for finding out about minority groups, analysis will be undertaken in a Bayesian framework.

Snakes and Ladders: Developing a training tool for use in the youth justice system (April 2021 - Current)

The aim of this 12-month project is to develop an online/digital training tool which represents a young person’s journey through the youth justice system including the various challenges that they may face.  It is jointly funded by an ESRC Impact Accelerator Account and monies from Neath Port Talbort Youth Justice and Early Intervention Service.

Linking survey and administrative data to enhance understandings of risky behaviours and potential protective factors in children receiving social care: A feasibility study (April 2022 to March 2027)

This Health and Care Research Wales funded Fellowship will use data from the School Health and Wellbeing Survey conducted by the School Health Research Network (SHRN) to investigate young people’s participation in a range of ‘risky’ behaviours including smoking, drinking, drug use, truanting, exclusion, bullying/being bullied, sexting and sexual health. By linking responses to routinely collected social services, education and health data in SAIL Databank, the project seeks to enhance understandings of patterns of participation in these behaviours amongst those receiving care and support from social services relative to their peers, and the potential protective factors.  Notably, by linking to social services and family court data there is an opportunity to undertake a more nuanced and intersectional approach rather than treating children looked after as a homogenous group.

Previous projects:

Between September 2019 and March 2020, I was seconded to CASCADE where I worked on the first phase of the Secure Accommodation project as part of the Centre's activity under the What Works for Children’s Social Care programme.  During this time 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.

Prior to joining CASCADE, I was based at the Wales Centre for Public Policy where I worked across both their Welsh Government and Pulic Services work programmes.  This included work on around the foundational economy; how best to support vulnerable debtors; children looked after and more recently loneliness and social isolation.