Research Advisory Committee

The Research Advisory Committee provides oversight on external and internal research that makes use of Cafcass staff, children and families we work with, or case-related data. The committee was established in July 2020 and is a key part of our Strategic Plan 2019-23, supporting our ability to learn from and influence research.

The committee’s primary objectives are to:

  1. Approve and scrutinise research applications ensuring they are in line with the Cafcass Research Governance Framework;
  2. Provide information and insight on emerging research relevant to Cafcass;
  3. Helping set the research agenda – working with partners in the family justice system to identify and address gaps in family justice research using Cafcass or other external data.

The committee formally meets twice a year and reports into the Performance and Quality Committee. It is formed of senior internal staff, external members, members of the Family Justice Young People’s Board, and our Board sponsor. You can read biographies of each external committee member below.

  • Teresa Williams - Chair of the Research Advisory Committee

    Teresa Williams joined Cafcass in 2018 as Director of Strategy. She joined from the Nuffield Foundation where she spent more than five years, most recently as Director, Justice and Welfare.

    In addition to overseeing Cafcass’ strategic objectives, Teresa will also be leading Cafcass’ input on the Nuffield Foundation’s Family Justice Observatory, which aims to improve the use of data and research evidence in the family justice system.

    Teresa brings a wealth of experience having worked in research roles across government and the justice sector previously. Before joining Nuffield, Teresa was Head of Access to Justice Analytical Services and Chief Researcher at the Ministry of Justice. She has also been a researcher at senior levels in the Home Office, the Government Social Research Unit at the Treasury, and the then-Department of Social Security. Teresa began her career as a quantitative researcher at the National Centre for Social Research.
    Teresa will chair the committee during its first year of operation.

  • Eileen Munro – Board sponsor

    Eileen Munro is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics. Professor Munro has written extensively on how to improve reasoning in child protection work, covering how best to combine intuitive and analytic reasoning and also on the importance of understanding how the organisational system influences workers’ actions. In 2011, she completed the Munro Review of the English Child Protection System.

    She has since been working with the Signs of Safety organisation on whole system re-design to support Signs of Safety practice with families, thereby testing the feasibility of implementing her Review recommendations. Returning to her roots in philosophy, Eileen is also working in a five-year philosophy of social technology project that is exploring the implications of complex causality for using research findings in a new location and how this challenges traditional evidence-based practice.

    As Board sponsor to the committee, Eileen will help shape the committee and support how we influence the wider family justice system.

  • Adrienne Barnett – External Committee member

    Dr Adrienne Barnett is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Brunel University London. Prior to commencing in full time academia at Brunel Law School in January 2014, Adrienne practised as a barrister in London for over 30 years, specialising in Family Law. She teaches Family Law, Children and the Law, Land Law and socio-legal research methods. Her specialist area of research is domestic abuse in private family law cases on which she has published widely over the past 20 years. More recently she has been researching parental alienation in England and Wales. Adrienne has undertaken qualitative and quantitative research into the implementation of Practice Direction 12J and was commissioned to prepare the literature review for the Ministry of Justice’s 2019 inquiry into risks of harm in family court proceedings, published in June 2020. She has undertaken training for the judiciary and professionals on child arrangements and domestic abuse.

  • Calum Webb – External Committee member

    Calum is a sociologist currently working as a research associate at the University of Sheffield. He was part of the Child Welfare Inequalities Project, studying socioeconomic and intersectional inequalities in child welfare interventions and investment in children’s services. He has expertise in advanced quantitative methods and data science, including statistical modelling. He is interested in participatory approaches to quantitative research and analytics.

  • Jonathan Dickens – External Committee member

    Jonathan Dickens is professor of social work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. He is a registered social worker, and before becoming an academic he had practised as a local authority social worker in London, and specialised in court work. Jonathan also spent three years as a social work consultant and trainer in Romania, 1994-1997. He joined UEA in 1998. Jonathan’s research interests are to do with child and family social work, especially care proceedings and children in care. As well as research papers and reports, he has written two social work text books: Social Work and Social Policy: An Introduction, and Social Work, Law and Ethics.

  • Judith Harwin – External Committee member

    Judith Harwin is professor in socio-legal studies in the law school at Lancaster University and co-directs the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research. Her research focuses on child protection and family justice for vulnerable children and families, the evaluation of strategies to intercept harm within and across generations and use of robust pioneering methodological approaches to these issues. She has carried out several evaluations of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in care proceedings and led the first national study of the contribution of supervision orders and special guardianship to children’s lives and family justice, using Cafcass data. She is a member of the Public Law Working Group, contributed to its recommendations on special guardianship reform and currently co-chairs a sub-group investigating options for reform of the supervision order. She was previously a member of the 2015 Review of DfE Special Guardianship. She is an adviser to the UNICEF-Eurochild study, mapping child protection data collection systems across the EU.

  • Judith Masson – External Committee member

    Judith Masson MA, PhD, FAcSS, Q.C (hon) is Professor Emeritus at Bristol University. Throughout her career she has worked as an academic lawyer, focusing on empirical research in family justice and children’s services and teaching law students and social workers. Judith has written widely on Children Act 1989 and its operation in courts and local authorities. Beyond work she enjoys walking, cycling and gardening.

  • Karen Broadhurst – External Committee member

    Professor Karen Broadhurst is based in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. She is Co-Director of the centre for Child and Family Justice research which is home to researchers from the disciplines of social work, social policy, law, criminology, statistics and computing. Karen is also Society Lead for the Data Science Institute at the University.

    All of Karen’s research work is focused on informing and supporting improvements to family justice. Karen’s recent work on the scale and pattern of women’s repeat appearances in public law proceedings (recurrent care proceedings) has catalysed major central and local government investment in a range of prevention initiatives which aim to help women avoid a cycle of repeat removal.

    As part of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory initiative, and in partnership with the SAIL Databank at Swansea University, Karen is currently leading a team of researchers who are demonstrating, and supporting others to produce, completely new analyses of family justice-systems in England and Wales using single and linked large-scale administrative datasets. Karen and Judith Harwin work on a job-share basis for the committee.

  • Nina Maxwell – External Committee member

    Dr Nina Maxwell is a Chartered Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow at CASCADE, Cardiff University. Over the past 20 years she has undertaken a wide range of mixed methods research in private family law, adolescence, and workforce development.

    Nina’s research includes a scoping review for the development of Supporting Separating Families Alliances in Wales and a review of research and case law on parental alienation. She has also undertaken research into the outcomes of court-imposed shared residence for children and numerous service and intervention evaluations. More recently, Nina has been undertaking research into youth violence, child criminal exploitation, and county lines.

  • Oli Preston – External Committee member

    Oli is the lead for all primary research and evaluation projects at Research in Practice. His current and former projects include evaluations of services for young people in care and at risk of serious youth violence / gang involvement; young people who have committed sexual offences; care leavers in prison; young people at risk of extrafamilial harm and exploitation; and women who have had multiple children removed from their care.

    Oli’s background is psychology (BSc) an cognitive neuroscience (MSc), and he has previously worked in strategy and evaluation for large medical research funders, The Wellcome Trust and The British Heart Foundation.

  • Tina Haux – External Committee member

    Dr. Tina Haux is a Senior Lecturer for Quantitative Social Policy at the University of Kent. Her research interests include shared care, parenting, child contact, lone parenthood and the impact of academics. Tina’s research predominantly utilises quantitative longitudinal methods but more recently she has carried out a mixed methods project on the understanding of shared care. Tina is also a member of an ESRC grant funding panel and associate editor of the journal Families, Relationships and Society. Prior to moving into academia, she worked in government and the voluntary sector.

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