Posted Thursday 3 March 2022
A partnership study involving Kingston University aiming to better understand and enhance the UK's response to domestic abuse and child protection is being launched, thanks to funding from the Nuffield Foundation.
Professor of Social Work at Kingston, Rick Hood, will join forces with the University of Sheffield, University of Huddersfield, domestic violence charity SafeLives and Research in Practice to undertake the work which could have profound impact on the lives of children and families experiencing domestic abuse and violence.
Professor Hood said the study will help understand how children at risk are supported. "Domestic abuse is one of the main reasons for children needing support and intervention from child welfare services. Yet too little is understood about the context and circumstances in which risks to children arise and how to respond effectively," he said.
The first part of the project will see the research team work together to understand how domestic abuse is understood in the context of child protection and how intersecting inequalities shape experiences – building on a previous Nuffield Foundation study. It will then work with families with lived experiences and practitioners to co-produce new frameworks to support how responses to children and families at risk, with more than 25 per cent of children and young people estimated to live with an adult who has experienced domestic abuse and violence.
The study is due to take place over two years and Professor Hood said it will build on the work done in the area over the past decade. "There have been important developments in practice over the past 10 years but the pandemic saw an increase in children coming into care due to incidents involving serious harm to children, so there is a massive need to improve responses and outcomes to promote sustainable change for children and their families – especially those among the most vulnerable in the UK," he said.
Deputy Vice President of Education at the University of Sheffield, Professor Kate Morris will head up the project and is hoping any outcomes of the study will help the nation's child protection systems. "If we can support people to think and do differently in this space, we should see a reduction of the pressure on child protection systems. We should see families feeling respected and supported, women and men feeling supported in a different way and ultimately, that should mean children, women and families are less likely to live the consequences of domestic abuse and violence," she said.