Nuffield Foundation appoints Board and Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory and establishes new data partnership to shed light on how the family justice system is working

By Nuffield Foundation

The Nuffield Foundation has appointed Lisa Harker as Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO), a new organisation which aims to improve the lives of children and families by making sure that decision-making in the family justice system in England and Wales is informed by the best data and research evidence.

Lisa has 30 years experience of advancing policy and practice to improve the lives of children. She is currently Chief Executive of children’s charity The Art Room, and was previously Director of Strategy at the NSPCC, Co-Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), and the government’s ‘child poverty tsar’. Lisa is also a Visiting Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford and has first-hand experience of the family justice system as an adoptive parent of two children.

The Nuffield FJO Governing Board has also been appointed, following a recruitment process overseen by its Chair, Sir James Munby. The Governing Board members are:

  • Noel Arnold, Director of Legal Practice and Solicitor, Coram Children’s Legal Centre
  • Sally-Ann Jenkins, Head of Children’s and Families Services, Newport City Council
  • Sophie Kershaw Miller, Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance, Camden Council
  • Her Honour Judge Lesley Newton, Manchester Family and County Court
  • Carey Oppenheim, former CEO of the Early Intervention Foundation and consultant to the Nuffield Foundation
  • Andrew Webb, former President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services
  • Teresa Williams, Director of Strategy at Cafcass

Professor Karen Broadhurst has been appointed as Principal Academic Advisor to the Governing Board.

In addition to these appointments, the Nuffield FJO has established a new data partnership with the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research at Lancaster University and the SAIL Databank at Swansea University. Funded with a grant of £2.2 million from the Nuffield Foundation, the data partnership will enable analysis of and access to datasets held by Cafcass and Cafcass Cymru, and to link them with others, providing much-needed information about the characteristics and pathways of children and families through services, and their outcomes.

Through the data partnership, the Nuffield FJO will also provide training and support for researchers and analysts in the use of data, increasing the capacity within the family justice sector to understand, interpret and apply data. The Nuffield FJO will publish accessible outputs for practitioners based on both regular analyses of the data, and more in-depth study of specific trends and issues.

The Nuffield FJO is working with the Welsh Government Knowledge and Analytics Service and Administrative Data Research Wales. It will also work with the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Education and the Administrative Data Research Partnership

Lisa Harker said: “I am thrilled to be taking up the role of Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. I am passionate about the need to address the rise in the number of children who are subject to decisions about their lives in the family courts and I am determined to find ways to ensure that the best data and research evidence is used to inform those decisions. I look forward to working with many in the child welfare and family justice systems to make a substantive difference to the lives of thousands of children and their families.”

Sir James Munby, Chair of the Nuffield FJO said: “The appointment of Lisa and the board, and the funding for the data partnership, mean that we now have both the people and infrastructure in place to build on the vital work done by the development team and to get the Nuffield FJO fully up and running. Our mission is to ensure that decisions made about vulnerable children are informed by robust data and research evidence. It is an ambitious goal, and our success is dependent on working collaboratively with all those in the family justice system, but I am confident that under Lisa’s leadership the Nuffield FJO can improve the lives of vulnerable children and their families.

Professor Karen Broadhurst, Co-Director of the Nuffield FJO data partnership said:“I am delighted to be working with Professor David Ford of SAIL Databank at Swansea University to support the Nuffield FJO in its ambition to effect step-change in the use of valuable national datasets. Practitioners have consistently said that far too little is known about the impact of the family justice system on the lives of children and families, and the data partnership means that researchers and analysts will now have the opportunity to answer such questions. We are indebted to our colleagues at Cafcass England and Cafcass Cymru for their continued support and guidance.”

Explore our projects

Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
Serious-teenage-girl-gestures-as-sits-on-couch-in-school-counselor-office-Mental-health-service-provision-for-children-state-care-England-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Mental health service provision for children in state care in England

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 - 2021

Girls and women with experience of care and the criminal justice system

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

View project
Woman-carries-daughter-to-council-house-COVID-19-families-low-income-poverty-in-pandemic-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2018 - 2020

Paths to administrative justice in Wales

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2021

System conditions and welfare inequalities in children’s services

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

Looked after children grown up

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

View project
Serious-teenage-girl-gestures-as-sits-on-couch-in-school-counselor-office-Mental-health-service-provision-for-children-state-care-England-PROJ
New

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Mental health service provision for children in state care in England

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2015 - 2018

Bridging the Evidence Gap in Family Proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The impact of Litigants in Person on the Northern Ireland court system

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2017

Transparency and privacy in family courts

View project
In progress

Justice | 2017 - 2020

Enhancing problem-solving practice in youth court

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2019

Implementation of recommendations of the Carlile report

View project
In progress

Justice | 2013 - 2019

Timely disclosures mean timely interventions for young offenders and victims

View project
Empty-street-with-cyclist-and-pedestrian-in-distance-Law-and-compliance-during-COVID-19-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2020 - 2021

Law and compliance during COVID-19

View project
New

Justice | 2020 - 2022

Youth custody: Educational influences and labour market consequences

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2022

Understanding criminogenic influences on youth offending

View project
In progress

Welfare | 2019 - 2023

Children living with domestic violence: effects on children’s well-being

View project
In progress

Justice | 2019 - 2021

The Edinburgh Study: causes and impacts of criminal justice pathways

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 - 2021

Girls and women with experience of care and the criminal justice system

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

View project
Woman-carries-daughter-to-council-house-COVID-19-families-low-income-poverty-in-pandemic-PROJ
In progress

Justice | 2018 - 2020

Paths to administrative justice in Wales

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2021

System conditions and welfare inequalities in children’s services

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2020

Looked after children grown up

View project
In progress

Justice | 2017 - 2020

The Mental Health MHTS For Scotland

View project
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2020

Birth fathers’ recurrent appearance in care proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2018 - 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Visualising data in care proceedings

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2018

Addressing the ‘care cases’ crisis: a sector-led review

View project
Reported

Justice | 2017 - 2019

Immigration judicial reviews

View project
Couple of African descent attends couples counselling to discuss finding fault in divorce
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2020

Pensions on divorce interdisciplinary working group

View project
Siblings play ball in a playground - Siblings Contact and the Law
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Siblings, contact and the law: an overlooked relationship?

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 - 2019

Measuring outcomes for children’s social care services

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The dissemination of lessons from research to the Judiciary

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2018

The impact of Litigants in Person on the Northern Ireland court system

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2017

Transparency and privacy in family courts

View project
Reported

Justice | 2016 - 2019

Implementation of recommendations of the Carlile report

View project
Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2015 - 2016

Feasibility study for research into improving children’s social services

View project
Search projects

We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.

Profile

COVID-19 response

Nuffield-funded social scientists are conducting COVID-19 research in real-time, to capture people’s experiences of the social, cultural and economic impacts of the pandemic.