The doctoral research around which my fellowship is centred explored the differences between local authorities in Wales in the rates at which they place children in out of home care, referred to as being a ‘looked after’. The research is based on a detailed quantitative analysis of approx. 15,000 children who were ‘looked after’ in Wales in a six year period from 2008 to 2014. The research identified differences in social work practice between local authorities and also highlighted the relationship between neighbourhood deprivation and rates of children in care. Whilst there have been similar studies undertaken in England, there have been no such studies undertaken in Wales and this has generated a great deal of interest in the study from those involved in both child welfare policy and practice. The aims of the fellowship are:
- to disseminate the study’s findings to social workers, managers, policy makers and elected members with responsibility for child welfare across Wales and to engage them in discussions on the implications of them for policy and practice. Dissemination of the findings will be through a range of routes including summary reports, blog posts, seminars and articles for sector specific publications. The intention is also to share the findings with an academic audience, including those involved in educating student social workers, through the production of a number of peer-reviewed journal papers.
- to further develop the quantitative research skills I have gained through the doctorate, both in order to develop my own skills for future research and to contribute towards building capacity further in social work research
- and finally, to develop my research network with the intention of identifying potential collaborators with which to develop research ideas and funding proposals for future research.