Partnerships & Networks
From its initiation as a policy research unit in 2001, through its evolution into the Child and Family Research Centre in 2007, a key partner of the Cnetre has been Tusla (and its predecessor, Child and Family Services within the HSE). This partnership has been based on a memorandum of agreement between NUI Galway and Tusla / HSE and has involved ongoing support for a programme of research, evaluation and consultancy. The partnership reflects the focus of our work on Evidence Informed Practice and our desire to make real and effective connections between the worlds of research and practice.
Among the many outputs from this work have been:
- A national review of children first and keeping safe training in HSE children and family services.
Devaney, C. and McGregor, C. 2014
National review of children first and keeping safe training
The current programme of work includes the following:
- Scoping Review of International and Irish Literature on Outcomes for Permanence and Stability for Children in Care
Moran, L., Devaney, C., McGregor, C. and Reddy, J. (2016)
Scoping Review of International and Irish Literature
Practitioners Guide to Literature Review
- Hoping for a Better Tomorrow': A Process Study Evaluation of the Greater Tomorrow Créche and Ballyhaunis Community Preschool Services, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Galway
Moran, L, Devaney, C, McGregor, C and Reddy, J. (2016)
- Mol an Óige / Family Preservation Final Evaluation Report (Common Sense Parenting Programme)
Coen, L., Canavan, J. & Brennan, M. UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway; HSE West (Mayo and Roscommon) Child and Family Services 2013
Final Evaluation Report
Since 2015, the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) has engaged in a research partnership with the Lumos Foundation founded by the author J.K. Rowling. Lumos is a renowned international foundation working to end the institutionalisation of children around the world by transforming the education, health and social care systems toward family-based care and/or foster care.
The partnership builds on the expertise of the UCFRC in prevention and early intervention, its track record in applied research and policy change, and its international reputation in Family Support and Youth Development. It incorporates the UCFRC’s extensive network of relationships particularly the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs in Children, Youth and Communities led by Professors Pat Dolan of NUI Galway and Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University. The partnership is founded on a set of common goals including family support as a fundamental orientation that encompasses efforts to develop, compensate for, enable and strengthen family functioning; finding practical, cost-effective and sustainable ways to support families and children; and directing resources to evidence-based prevention and early intervention services.
An estimated eight million children worldwide live in institutions of whom at least 80% have living parents. Lumos has worked in Moldova, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to replace models of care based on institutions with education, health and social services to support vulnerable families to stay together in the community and, more recently has undertaken work in Ukraine, Serbia and Haiti. The research collaboration between the UCFRC and Lumos aims to increase global understanding of why so many children are separated from families and placed in orphanages in different regions of the world, evaluate methods of deinstitutionalisation, and investigate the best ways to support families to stay together.
The partners are developing a series of joint projects including monitoring the impact of moving from institutions to family based care on children and young people as they grow up in terms of health, quality to life and future chances; identifying best practice for achieving the deinstitutionalisation of children across different regions of the world; and developing models for advancing the work of Lumos in new regions around the world such as South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Thanks to a generous grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the partnership started its activities by establishing links and learning opportunities between Irish examples of best practice, much of it also supported by Atlantic, and governments and practitioners in countries in the process of reforming systems of care and protection of children.
Announcing the partnership, Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir said “Our mission is to help eight million children in institutions by promoting large-scale reform through our influence on governments and major international aid donors. We need compelling evidence to achieve the greatest impact. We are delighted to work with NUI Galway, which will bring world-leading independent academic rigour to our programmes – as well as an understanding of what works in practice to gain the best outcomes for children.”
The UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan who will work on the project with UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University in the US said “The prospect of completing usable real-world research that helps to end the institutionalisation of children and youth globally, will be particularly fitting not only for UNESCO, and our research centre in NUI Galway, but for Ireland as a country given its sad and horrific past track record in relation to children in large orphanages."
For further information on Lumos see: https://wearelumos.org/
The UNESCO Chair's Network on Children, Youth and Community facilitates the establishment of key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence in education, the natural and social sciences, culture and communication. Through our network, higher education and research institutions all over the globe pool their resources, both human and material, to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their societies, with particular interest in the rights of vulnerable populations of youth. We serve as a think tank and bridge builders between academia, civil society, local communities, research and policy-making, and facilitate North-South, South-South and North-South-South partnerships and most importantly youth themselves (via youth as researchers).
Our Network is unprecedented in size, scope and spans 6 continents, 10 geographic regions, dozens of universities and NGOs, and an extensive list of the world’s best multidisciplinary academics and researchers committed to being part of this program. This UNITWIN partnership is further unique in that it is led by three UNESCO Chair's all with early career applied practice backgrounds (youth work, community development and secondary school education): namely, Professor Pat Dolan, National University of Ireland, Galway (Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement), Professor Mark Brennan, Penn State University (Chair in Rural Community, Leadership, and Youth Development) and Professor Alan Smith, University of Ulster (Chair in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy). UNESCO chairs from South Africa, Mexico, Korea, Brazil, and Spain, who work in the areas of youth and community will be invited to join the network.
What We Do The UNESCO Chair's Network on Children, Youth and Community focuses on delivering immediate responsive (to need and request) and ongoing research, program development, and educational program delivery and outreach. With our dedicated partners we are able to conduct international comparative research, design programs, and deliver them worldwide in a matter of months – not years as is often the case. The network has a common framework of Community Capacity Building, Youth Development, and Conflict Mitigation. This framework sets the stage for effective work in a wide range of areas such as, civic engagement, resilience building, health and wellbeing, education and literacy, social and economic development, democratization wider family support and peace building. Our work cuts across communities, generations, and all aspects of local life, resulting in the dissemination and application of best practices worldwide through traditional (trainings, factsheets) and innovative social media (YouTube, Facebook) methods.
How We Do It
We work to create opportunities for youth and communities worldwide to improve their lives, security, and well-being. We lead change through high-quality, evidence-based translational (‘bench to bed’) research; innovative educational programs; effective policy briefing advice; state of the art outreach activities, and high-impact national and international partnerships. We serve as a significant bridge builder between universities, researchers and international policy-makers. Our success is found in our comprehensive approach to applied research, where we oversee all project aspects from inception to outreach and application. Through this process, global citizens are are empowered, policy makers better informed, and societies made stronger, stable, innovative, and more resilient.
Watch our video on the Global Network of UNESCO Chair's!
Building on the concept of shared learning, the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre established a Child and Family Welfare Network in 2005. This initiative is aimed at practitioners, managers, policy makers and academics working or interested in the area of children and families wellbeing and provides a forum for thematic discussion on contemporary practice and theory. The events aim to allow for discussion, dissemination of information, shared learning and networking with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for children, young people and families.
Click here for details of All Past Child and Family Welfare Network Events
Youth mentoring has been a leading social intervention in the USA for over a century, where a significant body of literature in relation to mentoring has emerged. Over the past two decades, youth mentoring programmes have been developed across Europe, South Africa and further afield and there is a growing body of research regarding these interventions. The youth mentoring model has been demonstrated to be of value in a range of social contexts, including within the community for young people at risk, in school settings, to support young people leaving the care system and as a form of support for young people in care. However, previously there was no forum where mentoring research and practice knowledge can be shared between researchers and practitioners at international level. The UCFRC has been instrumental in the development of a Global Youth Mentoring Network to address this deficit.
The Global Network on Youth Mentoring aims to facilitate the sharing of research and practice in relation to youth mentoring, with a particular emphasis on sharing knowledge among mentoring organisations and researchers outside of the USA, where research and practice remains fragmented. The network consists of dedicated partners who are actively involved in youth mentoring research or practice. The network has established a website, develops policy briefings and holds an annual seminar.
For further information on the Global Youth Mentoring Network, please see our website at https://globalyouthmentoring.com/about-us/