You will join a growing cohort of doctoral students within the Centre and, given the collaborative nature of the project, will have considerable opportunity to engage with high profile policy and practice agencies. The project would suit applicants who have a background in law, policy, social work or social science.
The focus of the project will be on the family court modernisation agenda in England, in particular, it will address pressing national questions about the challenges and implications of completing public law children’s cases within far shorter performance timescales, and whether shorter is always better in terms of children’s outcomes. A number of high profile appeal court cases have brought tensions between performance and professional discretion sharply into view, alongside critical questions of how the family courts ensure timely decisions about children’s futures. Cases in which parents lack litigation capacity; cases of large sibling groups and those that concern transnational family networks all pose particular challenges for frontline social workers, lawyers and judges regarding timeliness. Frontline practitioners, now operating under increasing pressure due to the volume of cases coming before the courts, must carefully balance competing tensions between human rights and performance whilst ensuring children who cannot return to birth parents find the security they need through adoption or other out of home placement. These pressures are not particular to the UK given similar timescales for permanency decision-making, which ensures the project’s international relevance.
This qualitative project will combines case review with ethnographic observation. The research will build on and be further informed by case analysis currently being undertaken by Cafcass and work that the Centre will be doing to produce a quantitative picture of “long-running cases” in England and Wales.
Please contact Professor Karen Broadhurst (email@example.com) to discuss your interest in this fully funded PhD.