A group of clinicians and researchers who work in the field of child maltreatment and family court proceedings have gathered to improve the dialogue between research and practice.

A conference co-hosted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) and the Anna Freud Centre (an organisation that carries out research into ways to help young people with emotional distress and provides training for professionals who work with children) took place on 7 December 2012 and was attended by children’s guardians, solicitors, judges, social workers and other professionals.

Dr Julia Badger, Research Officer for the Anna Freud Centre, opened the conference by discussing the findings from a recent study investigating the outcomes of maltreated children after care proceedings. The research also evaluated the extent to which implementation of expert recommendations was associated with developments in the child’s wellbeing. The study consisted of a sample of 148 children who were referred to the Family Assessment Service, 60 of which were used in the follow up study.

Dr Julia Granville, Consultant Systematic Psychotherapist and Social Worker from Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust also delivered a presentation that concentrated on children and young people who are looked after, adopted or in kinship care in local services around South West London. The audience was shown a short video in which young people discussed their personal experience of being in care and some of the complex issues surrounding this. Key themes included loss, trust, and the frustration felt by those who craved the security of being part of a family. 

The audience was given a wide range of perspectives from representatives of Loughborough University, Cambridgeshire County Council and the University of Oxford. It was agreed that there have been many advantageous research findings and the conference provided new research avenues and strategies to put into practice.

Highlights of the afternoon included presentations from Mr Gerry Byrne, Clinical Lead for the Trust’s Family Assessment Safeguarding Service (FASS) and Infant-Parent Perinatal Service (IPPS) Oxfordshire and Dr Nicola Connolly, Clinical Psychologist, who conducted interviews with two service users who shared their own personal journeys with the FASS/IPPS service. The moving stories of both participants and the discussions held afterwards allowed the professionals and participants to tackle what improvements need to be made in order to improve the outcomes for patients and staff.

Dr Julia Badger said: “The conference ‘Working with Children in Care: Perspectives from Practitioners and Researchers’ was a resounding success proving to be both inspiring and moving. People from a mixture of professions and organisations attended the day conference. I felt that the multidisciplinary group sparked thought-provoking discussions around procedures of working with children in care, decision-making for children and their families, and key questions yet to be researched. The day ended positively with attendees discussing future network days, sharing resources and thoughts about how to enhance their services.”

If you would like a copy of the presentations that featured at the ‘Working with Children in Care: Perspective from Practitioners and Researchers’ conference, please contact Mr Gerry Byrne via email Gerry.Byrne@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk 


Dr Nicola Connolly (left) and Mr Gerry Byrne pictured with two service users