Professor Karen Broadhurst

Professor of Social Work

Research Interests

Experience, Funding and Advisory Positions

I have over 25 years experience in research focused on child and family justice. I have been awarded funding from the Nuffield Foundation, ESRC, Australian Research Council, the British Academy, national and local government, Wolfson, Sheila Kitzinger Foundation. My research has improved the lives of parents and children at the sharp-end of children's services by providing the first estimates of parents' vulnerability to repeat involvement in the family courts and thereby, catalysing new bespoke prevention programmes.

I am currently serving as expert advisor to the Independent Review of Children's Social Care, the Archbishops' Commission on Families and Households and the HMCTS court reform programme. I recently served as advisor to the President of the Family Division's Public Law Working Group.

Data Science

I co-direct Lancaster University's interdisciplinary Data Science Intitute, reflecting my expertise in the safe/ethical use of controlled data for social research. I co-chair the University's management board which is overseeing the development of a secure data science infrastructure.

I am currently Principal Investigator (with the SAIL Databank, Swansea University) for the £2.2M data arm of the the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which is delivering planned and on-demand rapid analyses of novel linked datasets. I am member of the Academic Advisory Group for the UKRI ESRC funded Data First Programme, led by the Ministry of Justice. I have served as funding panel chair for the ESRC's fellowship scheme linked to this programme. I am a member of the Social Care Data Panel Wales and expert member of the Research Committee for the Children and Family Court Advisory Service.

Centre for Child and Family Justice Research

In 2015, and following my return to Lancaster I established the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, which is an interdisciplinary research centre working in close collaboration with policy and practice partners. The Centre is home to researchers, national and international doctoral students and visitors.

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.

DSI: Returning to Court. Who are the defendants at risk of repeated cases in the Magistrates' and Crown Court?
15/05/2021 → 14/05/2022

Born into Care: infants becoming looked after in Scotland – proposal for a feasibility study into recurrence
01/11/2020 → 31/03/2021

Born into Care: infants becoming looked after in Scotland – proposal for a feasibility study into recurrence
01/11/2020 → 31/03/2021

Building Trauma-informed Responses in Supporting Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Community of Practice Approach
01/03/2020 → 31/12/2021

Improving safe, ethical and effective practice when the State Intervenes to protect newborn babies at birth: co-designing and testing an evidence informed guideline
01/09/2019 → 30/11/2021

DSI: SafePod
26/08/2019 → 30/09/2021

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Transition Phase
01/03/2019 → 31/08/2019

DSI: Establishment of a Data Platform and Analytics Service for the Family Justice Observatory and the provision of research and results to the FJO and general public.
01/01/2019 → 30/06/2023

Time Bound Project 2 - Rural Social Work
01/04/2018 → 30/06/2019

Family Justice Observatory - Development Phase
01/03/2018 → 31/03/2020

Specialist Family Law and Prison Law Advice and Advocacy Service for Mothers in Prison: Evaluation of implementation and effectiveness of pilot project to meet needs of those at risk of losing children to adoption or other Family Law interventions
01/07/2016 → 30/06/2019

A Review of Cases of Contested Adoption
01/05/2012 → 30/09/2012

Evaluation of the peer support for the senior social work managers pilot programme
01/02/2010 → 31/03/2011

Children missing from education in Blackpool
01/01/2002 → 31/12/2004

PHIRST @ LiLaC (Liverpool & Lancaster Universities Collaboration for Public Health Research)
01/01/1900 → …

The Illumination of the Child Protection Framework in the United Kingdom to Chinese Child Protection Policies and Practices
01/01/1900 → …

Family Justice Council Annual Debate, Central Hall, Westminster
Public Lecture/ Debate/Seminar

Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Leicestershire and Rutland Family Justice Board: Annual conference
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Role of the Children's Guardian in light of court modernisation programme
Invited talk

Child and Family Court Advisory Service: Annual Conference
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

New Horizons in Safeguarding Children
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

BASPCAN International Conference
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

2nd European Social Work Research Conference
Participation in conference -Mixed Audience

Families, Relationships and Societies (Journal)
Editorial activity

European Social Work Research Conference (External organisation)
Membership of committee

Child and Family Social Work (Journal)
Editorial activity

  • Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Inequalities
  • Centre for Child and Family Justice Research
  • DSI - Society