Professor June Thoburn qualified as a Social Worker in 1963 and worked in local authority child and family social work and generic practice in England and Canada before taking up a joint appointment (with Norfolk County Council) at UEA in 1979. As founding Director of the Centre for Research on the Child and Family and of the Making Research Count collaboration, she has a particular interest in finding innovative ways of helping social workers to make appropriate use of knowledge from a range of sources in their practice, a recent major interest is in international child welfare. She is currently a special advisor to CAFCASS and Chair of the Norfolk Family Justice Board. She was awarded the CBE ‘for services to social work’ in 2002.
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‘Re-imagining early help: looking forward, looking back’
In: M. Blyth (ed.) Moving on from Munro: Improving children’s services..
ISBN 978-1-4473-1566-7UEA Repository
An exploration of the differential usage of residential childcare across national boundaries
in International Journal of Social Welfare
pp. 16-24Full Text UEA Repository
The place of 'think family' approaches in child and family social work; messages from a process evaluation of an English 'pathfinder' service
in Children and Youth Services Review
pp. 228-236Full Text UEA Repository
‘Services for Vulnerable and Maltreated Children’
In: I. Wolfe and M. McKee (eds.) European Child Health Services and Systems: Lessons without borders.
Open University Press/ McGraw Hill Education
ISBN 978-0-3352-6466-7UEA Repository
Returning children from public care
An International Classification System for Child Welfare Programs
in Children and Youth Services Review
pp. 1847-1854Full Text UEA Repository
Your shout too! Children's views of the arrangements made and services provided when courts adjudicate in private law disputes
in Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law
pp. 123-138Full Text UEA Repository
A Guide through the knowledge base on children in out-of-home care
in Journal of Children's Services
pp. 210-227Full Text UEA Repository
Disproportionate representation of indigenous children in child welfare systems: international comparisons
In: Child Welfare: Connecting Research, Policy and Practice.
Wilfred Laurier University PressUEA Repository
Towards knowledge-based practice in complex child protection cases: A research-based experts' briefing
in Journal fo Children's Services
pp. 9-24Full Text UEA Repository
Achieving safety, stability and belonging for children in out-of-home care. The search for 'what works' across national boundaries
in International Journal of Child and Family Welfare
pp. 34-48UEA Repository
International perspectives on Foster Care
In: How Does Foster Care Work?.
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
ISBN 978-1-UEA Repository
The challenge of using administrative data in cross-national evaluations of services for children in out-of-home care
In: Improving Outcomes for Children and Families.
Jessica Kingsley PublishersUEA Repository
BAAF's role in the development of the foster care service
in Adoption and Fostering
pp. 26-31UEA Repository
Promoting and Safeguarding the welfare of children - a bridge too far?
in Journal of Children's Services
pp. 14-24Full Text UEA Repository
Children in State Care
Ashgate Publishing Ltd
ISBN 978-0-7546-2587-2UEA Repository
Recognising and Responding to Child Maltreatment
in The Lancet Child Maltreatment Series
pp. 167-180Full Text UEA Repository
Integrating children's services in England: national evaluation of children's trusts
in Child: Care, Health and Development
pp. 257-265Full Text UEA Repository
Is it feasible to pool funds for local children's services in England? : Evidence from the national evaluation of children's trust pathfinders
in Journal of Health Services Research and Policy
pp. 27-34Full Text UEA Repository
Do Integrated Children’s Services Improve Children’s Outcomes?: Evidence From England’s Children’s Trust Pathfinders
in Children & Society
pp. 320-335Full Text UEA Repository
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Key Research Interests
Since the late 1970s when I started my research career with a study of children in care who were placed ‘at home on trial’ I have studied most aspects of child and family social work. My research has encompassed family support and child protection services for children and families in the community and services for children placed away from home, whether with family members, in foster care or with adoptive families. I am frequently asked to draw on my own research and that of others to provide expert evidence (in the UK and abroad) in complex child welfare court cases, and to undertake analyses of events leading to child deaths or serious injury. I was an advisor to the House of Commons Children Schools and Families Committee for their 2009 Report on Looked-after Children, and provided invited evidence on the research background for court decision-making to the (2011) Family Justice Review and the 2012 House of Lords Select Committee on Adoption.
I have a particular interest in the views of children, parents, foster carers and adopters on the services they are offered. I employ a range of research methods, placing interview and observational data in the context of quantitative data obtained from records, surveys or routinely compiled administrative data. My research usually has a policy focus, and much of it has been funded by the UK government or by child welfare agencies. It also has a socio-legal focus, with relevance to children involved in public and private law disputes. More recently I have collaborated with colleagues at UEA and at other UK and overseas universities to synthesise research on ‘what works’ in the provision of services to vulnerable children and their families. The award of a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship in 2005 allowed me to pursue a long-term interest in children in out-of home care in the ‘developed’ world, and of the relevance of these practices to countries with fewer resources and less developed welfare systems. The project raised questions about the possibilities but also pitfalls of ‘importing’ policies and practices across national boundaries and has led to dialogue with politicians, researchers and social workers in varied welfare systems.
Current and Recently Completed Research Projects
Child Welfare in International Context
I continue the research on child welfare across national boundaries, originally funded by the Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship, through collaboration with international colleague members of the International Association for Outcome-Based Evaluation and Research on Family and Children’s Services. This has involved working with academics, data specialists and policy-makers in developed and less developed countries. Comparable data on children entering out-of-home care are leading to an exploration of the factors accounting for differences between countries in the sorts of children who enter care, the different placements used in different countries, and the likely impact on outcomes. The summary report was published as a UEA Monograph 2007, and further analysed in a 2010 journal article (Thoburn, J (2010) ‘Achieving Safety, Stability and Belonging for Children in Out-of-home Care. The search for ‘what works’ across national boundaries’ International Journal of Child and Family Welfare Vol 12, Number 1-2 pp 34- 48). I subsequently collaborated with Professor Clare Tilbury from Griffith University, Australia to further explore the question of the over-representation of indigenous children amongst children in care.
Since 2010 I have provided research advice to SOS Kinderdorf International and broadened my interest to services to children in less developed countries and ‘transition economies. I have worked with Professor Mark Courtney of Chicago University to publish a book of key journal articles and to synthesise outcome research on children in care (Thoburn, J and Courtney, M (2011) ‘A Guide Through the Knowledge Base on Children in Out-of-home Care’ Journal of Children’s Services, 6.4, 210-227).
Your Shout! and Your Shout Too! (2001- 2007)
These two linked studies (undertaken with Judith Timms of the University of Liverpool and Sue Bailey of UEA and funded by the NSPCC) involved surveys of the views of over 700 ‘looked after’ children and a smaller number of children involved in private law contact and residence disputes.
Family Support and Child Protection Services
I continue to work on aspects of child and family support and protection services. I contributed to the UEA inter-school studies of Pathfinder Children’s Trusts, and breakfast clubs. In 2010 I was commissioned by the Center for Excellence and Outcomes on Children’s Services (C4EO) to write an expert briefing on working with families with very complex needs.
In 2009 (with UEA colleagues Neil Cooper, Marian Brandon and Sara Connolly) I was commissioned by Westminster Children’s Services Department to undertake a process and outcome study of their innovative Family Recovery Project, which takes forward the recommendations of the government’s Think Family and Reforming Social Work initiatives. The report is available to view here.
Children Returning Home from Care
In 2008 I was commissioned by the Deutsches Jugendinstitut to provide an overview of the international literature on children returning home from care http://www.dji.de/pkh/expertise_dji_thoburn_reunification.pdf and am currently a member of an NSPCC advisory group supporting the development of knowledge-based reunification services. In 2012 I was commissioned by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) to write a Research Briefing on children returning home from care http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/briefings/files/briefing42.pdf
Service to Minority Ethnic Children and Families
Cultural competence, a key requirement for those working in child welfare, has been a theme running through my work over the past decade. After completing a study of permanent family placement for children of minority ethnic origin, I collaborated with Ashok Chand of University of Warwick and Joanne Procter at UEA to synthesise the research on child welfare services for minority ethnic children and families. This work highlighted the differences between ethnic groups in the UK with respect to the proportions referred to child welfare services. An important theme in my ‘in care around the world’ project is the underlying reasons for the over representation in care of some ethnic groups, especially indigenous children.