The Centre for Child and Family Justice Research

An interdisciplinary research centre established at Lancaster University in 2016

The Centre for Child and Family Justice Research is co-hosted by the Department of Sociology and the Law School at Lancaster University. We are home to colleagues and students from across the University. We involve students at all levels from our community, whether they are undergraduates, postgraduates or postgraduate researchers. We regularly welcome international visitors.

The overarching aim of our work is to inform and improve justice for children, youth and families. Our work spans family, youth and criminal justice and intersects with health and care. Central to our work is collaboration with a range of national and international policy and practice organisations. We involve children, youth and families in all our work. We are committed to the democratic production, ownership and application of knowledge. We resist the excesses of competition and individualism in academia, favouring instead, collective projects and action.

Members of our Centre variously locate ourselves between critique and praxis, standing in solidarity with frontline practitioners, families and communities - in the context of severe erosion of our social safety nets. We are inspired by a range of critical perspectives and approaches which include: critical legal theory, feminist materialist thought, postcolonial studies, foundational economy, therapeutic jurisprudence and trauma informed practice. We shed light on the operation and experience of justice, with the aim of improving transparency, accountability and equitable service delivery. We use methods of theoretically informed quantitative and qualitative social science, including innovative large-scale data linkage and survey methods, co-design and participatory approaches, historical and genealogical methods. Alongside traditional academic publications, we produce non-specialist summaries, datasets, podcasts, documentary films and blog posts to ensure our work reaches a wider range of audiences. Members also enable the research of others through the curation of datasets and production of data resource profiles.

Many of our members hold key advisory positions within government departments, or sit on working groups or advisory committees that are leading national and international policy and practice change. We serve as trustees, or chairs of boards of trustees for a range of charities. We are research home for the New Beginnings Foundation - a pioneering North West charity led by a former academic colleague and now practitioner member, which aims to empower parents at the sharp edge of public service involvement.

Our work is featured regularly by social, print and broadcast media.

Our Aims

  • To provide a supportive and vibrant scholarly environment for child, youth and family justice researchers, nationally and internationally.
  • To improve the transparency and accountability of justice systems by advancing empirical and theoretical knowledge
  • To pioneer innovative solutions that drive effective and compassionate practice
  • To collaborate with policy and practice colleagues, children, youth and families to set, revise and inform policy agendas
  • To progress new standards for methodological rigour and innovation in interdisciplinary research
  • To improve care and justice for families.

Our Funders.

The work of the Centre is funded through external research grants, which include ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, NIHR, Australian Research Council, Horizon, Sir Halley Stewart, British Academy, Department of Health, Department for Education, Scottish Government, Health and Social Care Wales.

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