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Father with children

With the Government pledging to help ordinary working class families and the role of parents rarely out of the press, there’s never been a greater need for strong policy relevant evidence about families.

We have extensive knowledge of what helps parents give their children the best start in life and on the particular challenges facing separating and disadvantaged families.

Studies and methods

Our families’ research delivers valuable insights to policy makers and the methods we use range from extensive mixed methods studies that include face to face surveys, longitudinal studies that stay in touch with families over years, secondary analysis of large scale datasets to specialist qualitative work.


DfEDWP, Education Endowment Fund, HMRC, ESRC, Early Intervention Foundation

Examples of our policy relevant research

The impact of family support interventions

Our large-scale Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England (carried out with the University of Oxford and Frontier Economics) investigated how children’s centres can best impact on children's lives and maximise support to families. The evaluation explored how centres are run, what services they offer, how they are used, what they cost and what difference all of this makes to children’s and parents' outcomes.

How to help parents support their children’s learning  

Our evaluation of a pilot to help parents learn about the school curriculum and acquire techniques they can use to help their children’s learning is one of the ways our research helps educators identify the steps they need to take to ensure all children meet their full potential, regardless of background.

Balancing work and parenting

The childcare policy landscape is fast-changing and our research is providing the evidence needed to make decisions. We are evaluating the early implementation of extended free childcare for preschool children of working parents, investigating childcare provision ahead of the introduction of tax free childcare and assessing the impact of free early years education.

The changing role of the modern father

While there has been a lot of research into motherhood and mothers’ experiences of re-entering the labour market, less is known about fatherhood in the 21st century. Our analysis of fatherhood in the UK helps policy makers, employers and practitioners develop father friendly work-family policies and practices.

Parental relationships under pressure  

We’re conducting research into how parents can be helped to have good relationships. The quality of parents’ relationship is increasingly being viewed as an important influence on children’s future life chances and long term mental health, key areas of interest for the government.

Support for separated families

Our researchers are working on two studies that will provide policy makers with crucial evidence on the efficacy of the new Child Maintenance Service system. The first study is looking at the effectiveness of the new Direct Pay system for parents paying child maintenance while the second study will measure the child maintenance outcomes for parents whose cases have moved from the old Child Support Agency to the new Child Maintenance Service.  

New approaches to supporting vulnerable families

After positive early outcomes, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court it’s being rolled out nationally. We’re evaluating this ‘National Unit’ to find out how it works and what key stakeholders think of its contribution towards the courts ultimate aim to help parents recover from substance misuse and where possible keep families together.


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