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Family justice

Decisions taken in the family justice system can be life-changing for children and their families. We aim to improve understanding of how the family justice system is working and to identify changes that could improve outcomes for children.

We are the leading funder of family justice research in the UK and our work has been influential across all areas of both public and private law, including child protection, separation and divorce, and child maintenance and contact. Our goal is to improve the ability of the justice system and statutory agencies to protect the rights of children, reduce conflict and promote good outcomes.

We have also established the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (Nuffield FJO) in order to support better outcomes for children through research. The Nuffield FJO is working with decision makers in the family justice system – social workers, family lawyers, Cafcass guardians, judges and healthcare professionals – to improve understanding of why children come into the system, their experience of it, and their outcomes.

There are many points of connection between our work in family justice and our work in family and community and education. For example, in relation to the educational outcomes of looked after children and children in need.

 

Our team


  • Ash Patel
    Programme Head, Justice
  • Director, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

  • Director, Justice

Our impact in family justice


  • Children’s sibling relationships will be better understood and protected as a result of new practice guidance on children’s sibling relationships in care and adoption proceedings. The guidance is being prepared by Dr Daniel Monk and colleagues at Birkbeck based on their research, which is the first legal study to focus on sibling relationships in the family justice system.

  • Recommendations from the Care Crisis Review have led to policy changes including amendments to the Working Together Statutory Guidance, a new Parliamentary Taskforce on Kinship Care, and changes to the Welsh Government’s Ministerial Advisory Group’s Work Programme. Led by the Family Rights Group, the cross-sector Review was established to help address the increasing numbers of children subject to care proceedings.

  • Children and young people’s privacy will be better protected as a result of new guidance issued by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division. We funded Julia Brophy from the Association of Lawyers for Children to produce the guidance, which will assist judges in better and more consistent anonymisation practices in published judgments concerning children and young people.

Family justice projects

In progress

Welfare | 2019 – 2022

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

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2019 – 2021

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

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

The implementation of new rules and guidance for permanent foster care

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

System conditions and welfare inequalities in children’s services

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 – 2020

Looked after children grown up

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2018 – 2019

Pathways of incarcerated children in care

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Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 – 2018

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

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In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2017 – 2019

Birth fathers’ recurrent appearance in care proceedings

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Couple of African descent attends couples counselling to discuss finding fault in divorce
In progress

Justice | Welfare | 2017 – 2020

Pensions on divorce interdisciplinary working group

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

Justice | Welfare | 2017 – 2019

Siblings, contact and the law: an overlooked relationship?

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Reported

Justice | Welfare | 2017 – 2019

Measuring outcomes for children’s social care services

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Reported

Justice | 2016 – 2018

The dissemination of lessons from research to the Judiciary

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Latest in family justice

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We aim to 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 are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.

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