Research project aims to identify better ways to support children and young people affected by domestic abuse

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A multi-million-pound grant has been awarded to researchers to investigate better ways to provide support for children and young people impacted by domestic abuse.

The Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded just over £2 million to the team, which is led by the University of Stirling and takes in researchers from the universities of Edinburgh, Central Lancashire, Northampton, and East London.

Children and young people who experience domestic abuse have a higher risk of poorer health, mental health, educational, and relationship outcomes. But with appropriate support for them and their families, this risk can be reduced and better outcomes supported.

The four-year project will evaluate innovative interventions in social care, criminal justice, and voluntary sector settings, to establish how new developments can improve services and outcomes for children, young people, and their families.

Professor Jane Callaghan
Professor Jane Callaghan

Professor Jane Callaghan (pictured), director of the Centre for Child Wellbeing & Protection at the University of Stirling, is the project’s principal investigator.

“Services for children and young people impacted by domestic abuse have not received enough funding or support in recent years,” she said. “Domestic abuse is a major concern in public policy but there is wide variation in what services children can access in different local authorities. Those commissioning services tell us there is not enough good evidence of what works, but there are pockets of innovative practice across the UK.

“This project will focus on understanding how some of these innovations support children and young people, how they impact other aspects of social care services, and what factors are necessary for innovative practice to blossom in social care contexts.”

The project, which will run until September 2023, aims to assess “promising developments” in social work, criminal justice, and children’s organisations in Scotland and England. It will evaluate the client, service, and implementation outcomes of seven innovations.

Those include: ‘Safe and Together’, which aims to improve social work responses to families who experience domestic abuse; Operation Encompass, which supports children after police have been called to an incident; and an innovation to support children who want to be involved in Domestic Homicide Reviews. It will also look at four interventions to support mothers and children recovering from domestic abuse.

The aim is for the project’s findings to inform future developments in domestic abuse and in social care more broadly.



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