School of Social and Political Science

Children and families


Improving the care system for children and families globally

Through our research, we ask how we can better engage with the experiences of children, young people, families, carers and professionals to improve the support for families and care of children, whether locally or in other contexts. Our researchers work to better understand which interventions help prevent violence against children and gender-based violence, and how best to support children and families experiencing adversity.

We are engaged in developing best practices for conducting research and developing ways to understand and measure the nature and impact of adversity on children. We explore how critical approaches to social work practice and policy with children and families can shape research and practice in important new directions. We are also interested in how the approaches, practices and systems in children and families social work can become more ethical, effective and supportive, particularly in support of those with care experience.

Research themes

  • adversity
  • intergenerational violence
  • child abuse
  • gender-based violence
  • ethical and effective social work
  • adoption
  • children's hearings
  • social work in Scotland
  • care-experiences children and young people
Research staff and PHD students

PhD students

  • Alexandra Jundler
  • Chad Lance Hemady: “The impact of maternal exposure to childhood adversity on infant outcomes: Mediating role of teratogens”
  • Dorothy Muraya
  • Jillian Taylor
  • Luke Power: Is it Enough? A Comparative Examination of ‘Care Leaver’s’ Health Trajectories in Scotland and Ontario.)
  • Mark Hardy: An institutional ethnography of social work decision-making with children & families experiencing poverty
  • Polly Cowan
  • Sarah Golightley
  • Toyin Okpaje: ‘Exploring Social Work Practice with Single Mothers: Teenage and Care-Experienced Mothering in Scotland’
Additional information
  • (Meinck, F.) ERC Starting Grant 2019 (2020-2025): Interrupting intergenerational violence transmission: a mixed-methods three-generational longitudinal study in South Africa (INTERRUPT_VIOLENCE). Principal Investigator, collaboration with colleagues at University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health.
  • (Meinck, F.) Global Challenges Research Fund (2019-2024): Accelerating Achievement for Africa's Adolescents Hub. Co-Investigator with colleagues at North-West University
  • (Meinck, F.) Australian National health and Medical Research Council (2019-2023): The first national study of child abuse and neglect in Australia: prevalence, health outcomes, and burden of disease. Co-Investigator with colleagues at Queensland University of Technology
  • (Roesch-Marsh, A.) PI, eNuture Project - Care leaver relationships, mental health and social media – October 2019 to December 2020
  • (Roesch-Marsh, A.) Co-I, Knowledge Exchange Impact Project – Care experience and mental health: co-producing training for social workers and carers. – December 2019 – Sept 2020
  • (Devaney, J.) 2019-2023 Young people bereaved by domestic homicide: Understanding home, relationships and identity. Funded by the Australian Research Council.
  • (Devaney, J.) 2019-2023 Developing the evidence base for innovation in social care for children and families affected by domestic abuse. Funded by the ESRC.
  • (Devaney, J.) 2019-2022 Children living with domestic violence – understanding the effects on children’s wellbeing using longitudinal data. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
  • (Devaney, J.) 2018-2020 The national evaluation of the NSPCC Speak Out, Stay Safe Programme. Funded by the NSPCC.
  • (Clapton, G.) Collaborations with Fathers Network ScotlandParents Advocacy and RightsBirthlink 
  • (Mitchell, M.) Recognition Matters : (2019-2020) This is a collaborative Knowledge Exchange and Impact project with Dr Ariane Critchley, Edinburgh Napier University and Family Group Decision Making Service, City of Edinburgh Council. The project produced a film about the research, launched in June 2020. Watch Recognition Matters on YouTube.
  • (Mitchell, M.) Scottish Barnahus House of Healing evaluation (2020- 2023) £1.5 for the project from Post Code Lottery (£100,000 for evaluation)

Related people and projects