October, 2017: Who cares for children? Population data for family justice research

This report describes the population data sources available for England that concern state-authorised decisions about who cares for children and how these data could be used to improve the effectiveness and safety of decision-making and quality of services. The report outlines what is required for the effective use of family justice data and proposes a series of recommendations for data providers, research funders, researchers and the Family Justice Observatory.

Cite as

 Jay, M.A., Woodman, J., Broadhurst, K., Gilbert, R. (2017) Who cares for children? Population data for family justice research. Available at:

August, 2017: Main Findings Report of the National Stakeholder Consultation

This report presents the findings from a national consultation with stakeholders conducted between August 2016 and March 2017, as part of the multi-stage family justice observatory scoping study. The consultation sought to understand: the research evidence needs of stakeholders, the opportunities and barriers to the application of research evidence in policy and practice, stakeholder priorities for new research, and Stakeholder priorities for a family justice observatory.
The consultation comprised a call for evidence with 47 responses from national and local family justice organisations. In addition a series of focus groups were held with front-line professionals, judges, children and young people, parents and kinship carers.
Cite as
Broadhurst, K., Mason, C., Robertson, L., Bowyer, S. and Wilkinson, J. (2017) Towards a Family Justice Observatory – A Scoping Study: Main Findings Report of the National Stakeholder Consultation. Available from:


June, 2017: Using Population Level Data to Understand the Family Justice System – Report from a Knowledge Exchange Event

This report encapsulates key messages arising from an all-day event, held on Monday 30th January at the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, London. This event focused on the potential for existing population-level data (administrative data, cohort studies and large scale longitudinal surveys) to be used to produce a research evidence base to support services for children and families who come into contact with the family courts. Population-level data is a powerful source of evidence but also presents analytic, governance and ethical challenges. At the event members of the research community, including representatives from data providers, discussed opportunities and challenges within existing population-level data, ways forward when trying to increase the amount of good quality population-level research in the field and how an observatory might support these endeavors.
The overarching message concerned the need to share learning and expertise within a broad family justice research community and make coordinated case for improved data and access. Establishing a ‘family justice’ community of researchers, data providers and data users could minimize duplication of effort, allow comparison of different approaches to data cleaning and analysis and ensure that research builds strategically and logically over time.
Cite as
Woodman, J., Broadhurst, K., and Gilbert, R. (2017) Using Population Level Data to Understand the Family Justice System – Report from a Knowledge Exchange Event. Available from: