The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection

About Our Research

We have a number of current and recently completed research and development projects relating to child wellbeing and protection, more details of which can be found below and also on the University of Stirling Research Management System

You will also find more about our the research we are involved in and associated with on the Faculty of Social Sciences Child Wellbeing and Protection research group page. The research group underpins the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection and brings together staff from across the University of Stirling who are engaged in research of relevance to children’s wellbeing and protection.

Our first new research project ‘Seamless Services’ is being funded by the University of Stirling in partnership with Aberlour Child Care Trust, Children in Scotland, NHS Forth Valley and Social Work Scotland. In this project three linked PhD studies will critically examine the impact of Scotland’s framework for children’s services upon the wellbeing of children in Scotland. Seamless services will consider the contributions of Health, Education and Social Work to the wellbeing of children.

This project will commence in February 2016.

In collaboration with York University we are undertaking a study of the outcomes for children who are looked after away from home under the age of 5. More details about this study can be found on the Permanently Progressing? page.

Child Welfare Inequalities is a four UK nation study led from the University of Coventry. Professor Brigid Daniel is the lead researcher for Scotland.

Issue 1 - Child Welfare Inequalities Project Newsletter

Issue 2 - Child Welfare Inequalities Project Newsletter

Download the latest Child Welfare Inequalities Project Newsletter

More information about this project can be found on the Child Welfare Inequalities website.

In this ERASMUS+ project we are working with the charity Terres des Hommes, with the University of Kent and with Universities in Moldova, Kosova, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia to develop a core child protection curriculum. For further information please contact Dr Paul Rigby

Using a realist synthesis approach, the project aims to identify ‘what works, for whom and in what circumstances’ in early years interventions to increase child wellbeing and reduce inequalities. To date we have (i) carried out a scoping exercise and mapped the current landscape of early years policy and programmes in Scotland, (ii) consulted extensively with stakeholders and experts, (iii) conducted a case study of the development of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), (iv) developed a theoretical framework for effective interventions based on GIRFEC policy and practice and (v) created a protocol for a realist review of the literature. The principal output from the project will be an evidence-based framework that will synthesise relevant evidence about how and why early years interventions effect change and generate outcomes. This project is funded by the Scottish Government Chief Nurse’s Office.  

Getting It Right for Every Child: A National Policy Framework to Promote Children’s Well-being in Scotland, United Kingdom

With Scotland’s policy framework for improving children’s wellbeing soon to become law, The Milbank Quarterly has recently published a timely analysis of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC), jointly-authored by Emma Coles and Helen Cheyne (NMAHP-RU, University of Stirling), Brigid Daniels (CCWP) and Jean Rankin (University of the West of Scotland). This case study of the development and implementation of GIRFEC is part of a wider project focusing on early years health and wellbeing interventions, to synthesise evidence around what works, for whom and in what circumstances, to increase child wellbeing and reduce inequalities. The GIRFEC paper will be useful to anyone who wants to understand how and why policy, practice and legislation affecting children, young people and their families in Scotland has evolved. It also helps explain why there are controversies around aspects such as the Named Person and fears of intrusion, and the importance of resolving these and managing the processes of implementation and change.

As a landmark policy framework and practice initiative, GIRFEC represents both a distinct way of thinking and the future direction of children’s welfare policy. In the paper, the authors argue that GIRFEC is unique, in making an aspirational commitment to all Scotland’s children, whilst setting a national transformational agenda.  Additionally, it represents the ‘epitome’ of the Scottish approach to policymaking, where broad policy frameworks can be implemented to suit local contexts. The authors of the study trace GIRFEC’s incremental evolution across Scotland, its key components, and the reasons behind enshrining elements of GIRFEC within law, in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. They discuss inherent tensions and controversies that have arisen from the GIRFEC policy and associated legislation, such as defining and assessing wellbeing, balancing the support for wellbeing against child protection, the role of the Named Person, information-sharing, and the scope for interpretation within the legislation and guidance. The challenges of integrating children’s policies/services, and the full implementation of the legislative aspects of GIRFEC in August 2016 are examined. In conclusion, the authors argue that, although GIRFEC has ground-breaking potential, rather than legislation alone, the key to successful implementation may lie “in the way these processes of change and associated uncertainties are introduced, negotiated, and managed.” It remains to be seen whether GIRFEC can fulfil the aspirations of the Scottish Government in terms of reducing inequalities and improving outcomes for children and young people.

Read the full paper here

Other related work

Coles E, Cheyne H & Daniel B. (2015) Early years interventions to improve child health and wellbeing: what works, for whom and in what circumstances? Protocol for a realist review. Systematic Reviews, 4:79.

The Aberlour Perinatal Support Project (PSP) service provides befriending support through a network of trained volunteer befrienders to women in the Falkirk Council area experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression. The PSP aims to improve the mental health of participants, improve attachment between mothers and infants, reduce social isolation and improve self-confidence of both participants and volunteers. The University of Stirling is working with Aberlour – the Scottish Children’s Charity on a small-scale evaluation of the impact of the PSP on key outcome and to explore its fit with the Scottish policy and service context. The evaluation focuses on supporting the  Volunteer Coordinator to establish sustainable evaluation processes within the core delivery and routine recording of the service;  and collecting and analysing supplementary qualitative data to explore the expectations and experiences of participants, volunteers and key stakeholders. 

Project update: "Women experiencing mental health difficulties directly before and after giving birth could benefit from a charity’s befriending service, a University of Stirling report has revealed."

Read the full press release here.

This project is exploring how the services provided for children and parents (funded by the BLF) are making a difference. The centre provides a wide range of creative activities to support parenting and families in the local area. The evaluation team including Sian Lucas, Joanne Westwood and Nughmana Mizra  are working with the centre staff and parents to explore what works using critical reflective methodology, interviews and focus groups.

This research study will explore how professionals understand and apply thresholds in child protection practice. The study is commissioned and funded by the East Ayrshire Child Protection Committee (EACPC) as part of their commitment to continue improving child protection practice and is being conducted by an independent team from the Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection Centre and WithScotland.

If you would like further information about this study please contact Dr Andressa Gadda.

Finding a Balance is an early intervention programme based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychoeducation and facilitated Self Help that promotes good mental health for parents of young children. It was established in May 2013 by theAberlour. Aberlour has now commissioned the Centre to carry out this realist evaluation to explore the impact of the programme on parents' wellbeing and relationships, particularly relationships with their child(ren). The findings of the evaluation will inform the further development of the programme, as well as the development of a tool kit to train other professionals interested in delivering the programme.  

If you would like to find out more about this evaluation please contact Dr Andressa Gadda.

The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection has been commissioned by Scottish Government as part of its Child Protection Improvement Programme

There were three distinct parts to the work: a follow-up survey (baseline 2012) to Child Protection Committees asking about how they record information about children who may be living with neglect and the services offered locally; a rapid analysis of national policy and UK-wide initiatives in relation to services offered to children and families and of wider policy that may impact on the lives of children; and a review of recently published research articles and wider literature to identify possible messages of what approaches or programmes might work and in which situations.

The reports are available here:

Background Paper 1   Children Neglect in Scotland: Follow-up survey 2016

Background Paper 2   Children Neglect in Scotland: Rapid review of the literature on intervention

Background Paper 3   Children Neglect in Scotland: Rapid review of legislation and policy

The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection has worked with colleagues to produce various publications and reports in relation to neglect and links to these can be found below:


What is Child Neglect?

Helpful links:



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