Professor Karen Broadhurst

Professor of Social Work


My research interests are in child and family justice. I have a particular interest in the formal operation of the family courts and related institutions, their impact on family life, as well as alternative problem solving approaches to justice.

Recent work has focused on women in the family courts, the intersection of social science and legal knowledge in family court decision-making as well as methods of therapeutic jurisprudence.

Centre for Child and Family Justice Research

I am currently Co-Director of the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research which is an interdisciplinary research centre working in close collaboration with policy and practice partners.

I am also Society Lead for the Data Science Institute at the University.

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory

I am Principal Academic Advisor to the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. I previously led the development team for this project, background papers and aspirations for this project are all available via the Observatory website.

I am Principal Investigator and Co-Director for a new £2.2 million Nuffield funded project which aims to accelerate intelligence about how the family justice is working using administrative data.

Other current Expert/Editorial Roles

I am also serving as advisor to HMCTS for the evaluation of family court reform.

I Chair the advisory board of the PAUSE project

I sit on the Editorial Board of Family Court Review led by the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

New Open Access Articles and Reports

"Born into Care" - read our new statistics on newborn babies in care proceedings in England.

Listen to Radio 4 Today Programme coverage of this issue

Read Sanchia Berg's coverage of the report (BBC news)

Read the Guardian newspaper response from Amelia Hill

Current Research Projects

With colleagues at UCL, the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research is pursuing novel linkages of family court and health data to understand the health needs of women in public law proceedings

With colleagues at UEA, the Centre is examining the pattern of fathers appearances in public law proceedings, the wellbeing of fathers and family relationships

With colleagues in Australia and the US, I am collaborating in the SIB (State Intervention with Babies) project funded by the Australian Research Council.

With Peking University and supported by a British Academy Grant I am examining the development of child protection in China.

Birth Mothers in Recurrent Care Proceedings

Project articles and reports are available from the Nuffield Foundation funded study of birth mothers and recurrent care proceedings - many are free to download

Watch our Turning Points film here - what helps women to turn their lives around?

Final conference slides and papers are also free to download

PhD Supervision

I have extensive experience of doctoral research and currently supervise a cohort of students funded by the ESRC. I welcome applications from students interested in pursuing studies broadly relating to state support for families, child protection, the family courts, therapeutic court models; children and young people in and leaving care.

  • Centre for Child and Family Justice Research
  • DSI - Society