Current Projects at The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre


Project Title Research Needs Analysis
Commencement Date February 2016
Research Team Dr. John Canavan and Dr Rosemary Crosse
Project Summary The purpose of the Research Needs Analysis is to assist Tusla in identifying and prioritizing the research and development needs of the Agency’s functions for the period 2015 – 2017.

The Research Needs Analysis aims to:

Meet the Agency’s statutory requirement to undertake and commission research relating to its functions;
To map out and prioritise research requirements to enable strategic coordination across the Agency in support of Tusla’s corporate objectives;
To better understand and prioritise the research requirements of the Agency’s services and functions;
To support internal and external commissioning;
To ensure value for money in the undertaking and commissioning of research;
To support the ongoing development of evidence informed service delivery.

In order to meet the aims and objectives of the research a combination of desk research and primary data collection involving consultation with stakeholders is being utilised.  
Funded by

 Tusla logo

Project Title ‘Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship and Democracy’
Commencement Date April 2016
Research Team Prof. Caroline McGregor, Prof. Robert J. Chaskin, Dr Bernadine Brady and Ms Kayleigh Murphy
Project Summary This project examines the ways in which disadvantaged young people in urban environments are both aided in or inhibited from participating in the development of their local communities as well as the ways in which positive development can be gained from their participation in political and democratic processes.  It looks at how these young people engage with the political and organisational aspects of their community as well as with wider society as a whole. The project looks at the need for the implementation of interventions which take into account the social differences encountered by disadvantaged urban youths and how these interventions can aid the positive development of these young people as well as benefit the wider society through youth participation.  The project will be based on a comparative case study which will be carried out in the cities of Dublin, Belfast and London regarding youth and civic engagement 
Funded by Marie Curie Logo


Project Title Knowledge Transfer and Dissemination:  Lumos Foundation
Commencement Date July 2015
Research Team Prof. Pat Dolan, Dr Aileen Shaw and Dr Tanya Kovacic
Project Summary The UCFRC is a partner in a grant by The Atlantic Philanthropies to the Lumos Foundation in the UK to support the development of a series of knowledge-transfer activities to apply the learning from Ireland’s Prevention and Early Intervention programmes and their advocacy investments for the benefit of practitioners and policymakers in Eastern Europe and the LAC region.  These activities are undertaken to support the Lumos Foundation’s effort to accelerate the process of ending institutionalisation of children globally.  The objective is to harness the skills, knowledge and networks of each partner to establish the crucial evidence and practice base needed to support far-reaching changes in child care and protection systems that will dramatically reduce the numbers of children in institutions, or at risk of institutionalisation, worldwide.

Activities include:

  • Professional exchanges and training programmes: Practitioners, managers and young people involved in The Atlantic Philanthropies funded programmes, will work closely with Lumos teams on the ground in the European and LAC regions to develop bespoke training programmes and study exchange visits for practitioners. This will include:
  • Study exchange visits to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for key practitioners and policy makers
  • Deployment of practitioners to at least 10 countries across Europe, the LAC region, and potentially beyond, to provide training and exchange of experience
  • Peer to peer exchanges between young people
  • The expansion of Lumos’ ‘virtual study visit’ programme, where services are filmed and used as training materials in order to reach a much wider audience than is feasible in the study exchange programme.
  • Knowledge portal: An on-line knowledge portal will be developed to ensure even greater dissemination of the knowledge and tools developed by The Atlantic Philanthropies programmes in Ireland, as well as learning from this project itself.
  • International experts’ meetings and conferences: Leveraging the opportunities brought by the partners to share expertise beyond the European and LAC regions, the project will include a series of international gatherings of experts and global level policy-makers.

Funded by LUMOS logo

Project TitleThe Evaluation of the Mol an Óige Common Sense Parenting Programme in Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon
Commencement Date January 2015
Research Team Mr John Reddy and Dr John Canavan
Project Summary The study evaluates the implementation of the Mol an Óige Common Sense Parenting (CSP) in Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon. Over an 18 month evaluation period, the research assesses the efficacy and effectiveness of CSP in improving the parenting skills and the quality of family relationships for participants. The study researches the process of implementing CSP in order to learn how the programme was used and experienced by participating parents, families and practitioners. We assess the outcomes of CSP for participating parents, families and practitioners. A mixed method research design combines a review of relevant policy and literature, documentary analysis, secondary analysis of data from standardised research measures and satisfaction questionnaires gathered as part of programme implementation, and individual and focus group interviews. The standardised tools include questionnaires which measure change in CSP participants parenting, emotional and behavioural well-being and will be administered by CSP facilitators at pre- and post-intervention and at six month follow-up intervals.  Practitioners also will complete a practitioner questionnaire in order to record their views on the programme’s implementation and value.
Funded by Tusla logo



Project Title The Mainstreaming and Development Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support
Commencement Date July 2014
Research Team Dr John Canavan, Prof. Caroline McGregor, Dr Bernadine Brady, Dr Carmel Devaney, Dr Cormac Forkan, Dr Aileen Shaw, Dr Anne Cassidy, Dr Nuala Connolly, Dr Lenor Rodriqez, Danielle Kennan, Brendan Connolly, Melissa Bonotto and Carmen Kealy
Project Summary The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway provides research, evaluation and technical support to the Tusla Development and Mainstreaming Programme for Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS). This is a new programme of action being undertaken by Tulsa, the Child and Family Agency, as part of its National Service Delivery Framework. The programme seeks to transform child and family services in Ireland by embedding prevention and early intervention into the culture and operation of Tusla. Our research and evaluation study focuses on the implementation and outcomes of Tusla’s work. Its overarching research question is “whether the organisational culture and practice at Tusla and its services are integrated, preventative, evidence-informed and inclusive of children and parents and if so, is this contributing to improved outcomes for children and their families”.

Please visit our Development and Mainstreaming Section here
Funded by

 AP jpegguf

Outputs to Date:

August 2016

  • Parenting Support and Parental Participation:  ‘Working with Families: A Review of the Literature on Parental Participation’:  Literature Review

  •  Public Awareness Population Baseline Survey Report: Full Report

  •  Exploring the Effectiveness of Structures and Procedures Intended to Support Children’s Participation in Child Welfare, Child Protection and Alternative Care Services: Literature Review

  • Meitheal and Child and Family Support Networks: Early Implementation of Meitheal and the Child and Family Support Networks: Lessons from the field: Full Report

Jan 2016

  • Children’s Participation: A study exploring ‘what works’ in terms of supporting children’s participation in the context of child welfare, child protection and alternative care services. DMP Powerpoint DK Jan 2016

  • Parenting Support: The Parent Voice in Family Support: Opportunities and Challenges for Meaningful Engagement and Participation DMP Powerpoint NC Jan 2016

Project TitleOutcomes for Permanence and Stability for Children in Care
Commencement Date

July 2014

Research Team Prof. Caroline McGregor,Dr Carmel Devaney and Dr Lisa Moran
Project Summary This study focuses upon outcomes for permanence and stability for children in long term care, general foster care, residential care and relative care of TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency in Ireland. Drawing upon a mixed method approach, the project aims to elicit and test a range of indicators of outcomes for children in Irish long term care services, providing a rich picture of factors affecting the likelihood of children to achieve permanency and stability in their living arrangements when exiting care.One of the principal aims of this study is to provide guidance for social work practitioners in Ireland on how best to identify and measure tangible outcomes with regard to stability and permanence for young people in care. This research is important therefore, for decision-making about achieving the best possible outcomes for children and young people in Irish care services and it is also significant for conference and court reporting about outcomes for children in care.

Scoping Review
Practitioners Guide
Funded By

 300 px logo of Tusla



Project Title Evaluation of the CHART & A Life of Choices Programmes
Commencement Date September 2013
Research Team Dr Bernadine Brady and Dr John Canavan
Project Summary CHART and A Life of Choices are programmes used by Foróige in its youth justice projects.  The programmes support young people to reflect on their behaviour, to identify what influences them to act in particular ways and to make healthier choices. This mixed methods study explores the outcomes and implementation of the programmes.  The methods used include focus groups with young people and staff, a staff survey and pre and post measures with young people.  
Funded by Foroige Logo