November 2014 - March 2017

Project Team - Professor Marian Brandon, Dr Georgia Philip, Dr John Clifton

Funder - The Nuffield Foundation

Background: The recognition and substantiation of abuse and neglect is growing; the number of children with a child protection plan has risen from just over 29,000 in 2008 to nearly 52,700 in 2013 (Department for Education,2012, 2013). This puts increasing pressure on children’s services to protect children effectively. Research indicates that child protection professionals struggle to engage men. Consequently, assessments may not accurately reflect men as either a risk or a resource for children they care for, potentially endangering children and excluding men. To date, this problem has been investigated mostly from the viewpoint of professionals. This study focuses on men’s perspectives and investigates the encounter between fathers or father figures and the child protection process.

The study is funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and is being carried out by a team from the Centre for Research on Children & Families (CRCF) at the University of East Anglia. The study will take place from November 2014- March 2017, with research in three local authorities in England. It involves a study of local authority case files for 90 children (30 per area), and an innovative qualitative longitudinal study of 25-30 men (10 in each area), following their lives and involvement with child protection processes over the period of 12 months.

The main research questions are:

- What is the extent and nature of men’s involvement in child protection processes in the six month period beginning with the child protection conference where a plan is made for the child?

- How do fathers and father figures experience child protection practice and procedures as they unfold in real time?

- Are there critical moments in the child protection process which are particularly significant for participants’ lives and/ or the engagement of men?

- What are the implications of the different strategies and practices employed by social workers or other professionals to involve men in protecting and safeguarding children?

The research team:

- The CRCF has an international reputation for the quality and impact of its research. Staff from the Centre have undertaken research over many years on subjects such as serious case reviews; intensive family support; adoption; foster care; children’s participation & care proceedings.

- This study is being led by Professor Marian Brandon. The researchers are Dr Georgia Philip & Dr John Clifton.

Ethical issues:

- All information will be anonymised – individuals and authorities will not be identified in any publications.

- The research is subject to the approval and oversight of UEA Research Ethics Committee and complies with local research governance processes.

Dissemination of findings and messages for practice:

- A practice focused report completed at the end of the study with implications primarily for social workers but also for other practitioners; also available via the CRCF website

- The anonymised data from the qualitative study will be archived for future use by other researchers

- Audit tool offered to partner authorities to allow monitoring of men’s involvement across the authority or in particular areas or teams

- A research presentation made to an invited audience of key sector leaders at the Nuffield Foundation

- Research briefings circulated to all Local Safeguarding Children Boards

For more information about the project please contact the research team:  Tel: 01603 592054 Tel: 01603 593365