Department of Education

Harriet Ward

Honorary Research Fellow

Harriet Ward is Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Research at Loughborough University. She is currently working with the Rees Centre as an Honorary Research Fellow.

In 2002 she founded Loughborough’s Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR), an independently funded research centre designed to produce methodologically sound, policy relevant research on issues concerning children’s social care. She directed the centre until she stepped down in 2014.

Harriet has over 30 years of experience both as a research director and field researcher, as an adviser to policymakers and service providers, and as a social work practitioner. She was academic adviser to the joint DH/DfE research initiative on safeguarding children and chaired the DfE working party on neglect. She has given invited expert evidence to parliamentary committees and inquiries on looked after children, child and family social work, child protection and foster care. She represents England on the Board of EUSARF (European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care for Children and Adolescents), and is a founder member of the international network of research on transitions to adulthood from care (INTRAC). She has a EUSARF lifetime achievement award, and was awarded a CBE for services to children and families in 2012.

Harriet joined the Department in 2018, and acts as a consultant to (and participant in) the programme of research on fostering and education situated in the Rees Centre.

Harriet’s research interests focus on the relationship between the state and the family both now and in the past. Her research programme includes: the construction and piloting of a methodology for assessing the outcomes of local authority care (the Looking After Children Project); studies of the relationship between costs and outcomes in children’s services; an empirical study of the experiences of children who entered the Waifs and Strays Society (Children’s Society) in the nineteenth century; and an eight year prospective longitudinal study of children identified in infancy as likely to suffer significant harm. She is currently working on a major study (with Barnardo’s Australia) of the outcomes of open adoption in New South Wales. Findings from Harriet’s research programme have underpinned developments in policy and practice concerning child protection, looked after children and adoption in the UK, the USA, Australia and parts of Europe.

Funded Research Projects
  • Outcomes of Open Adoption from Out-of-Home Care in Australia
    Funded by Barnardos Australia, 2014-2019
  • Improving Safe, Ethical and Effective Practice when the State Intervenes to Protect Newborn Babies at Birth: co-designing and testing an evidence informed guideline
    Funded by the Nuffield Foundation (and led by Lancaster University) 2019-2021
Books (authored)
  • Gatehouse, M., Statham, J. and Ward, H. (2004) The Knowledge: How to get the information you need out of your computer and information systems: A practical guide for children’s social services Understanding Children’s Social Care Series, Department of Health and Thomas Coram Research Unit
  • Ward, H., Munro, E., Dearden, C. (2006) Babies and Young children in Care: Life Pathways, Decision-Making and Practice, Volume Two in Outcomes for Vulnerable Children Series: London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Ward, H., Holmes, L. and Soper, J. (2008) Costs and Consequences of Placing Children in Care, Volume Three in Outcomes for Vulnerable Children Series: London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Cleaver, H., Walker, S, Scott, J., Cleaver, D., Rose, W., Ward, H., and Pithouse, A. (2008) Integrated Children’s System: Enhancing Social Work Recording and Inter-Agency Practice, London: Jessica Kingsley
  • Davies, C. and Ward, H. (2012) Safeguarding Children Across Services: Messages from Research, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Ward, H., Brown, R. and Westlake, D. (2012) Safeguarding Babies and Very Young Children from Abuse and Neglect, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Books (edited)
  • Parker, R., Ward, H., Jackson, S., Aldgate, J. and Wedge, P. (eds) (1991) Looking After Children: Assessing Outcomes in Child Care, London: HMSO
  • Ward, H. (ed) (1995) Looking After Children: Research into Practice, London: HMSO
  • Ward, H. and Rose, W. (eds) (2002) Approaches to Needs Assessment in Children’s Services, London: Jessica Kingsley
  • Scott, J. and Ward, H. (2005), Promoting the Wellbeing of Children, Families and Communities, London: Jessica Kingsley
Editorships (since 2010)
  • Book series editor: Outcomes for Vulnerable Children (2004-2014) Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Book series editor: (with Carolyn Davies): Safeguarding Children Across Services (2010-2013) Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Guest Editor: Children and Youth Services Review (2011) Special Issue: Leaving Care
  • Guest Editor: Child and Family Social Work (forthcoming 2020) Special Issue; Historical Issues in Leaving Care Policy and Practice: An International Perspective
Reports: Peer reviewed and externally published (since 2010)
  • Brown, R. and Ward, H. (2012) Decision-making within a Child’s Timeframe, Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre Report, London: Department for Education
  • Ward, H., Brown, R. and Hyde Dryden, G. (2014) Assessing Parental Capacity to Change when Children are on the Edge of Care: An Overview of Research Evidence, Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre Report, London: Department for Education
  • Brandon, M., Glaser, D., Maguire, S., McCrory, E., Lushey, C. and Ward, H. (2014) Missed opportunities: indicators of neglect – what is ignored, why, and what can be done? Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre Report, London: Department for Education
  • Brown, R., Ward, H., Blackmore, J., Thomas, C. and Hyde-Dryden, G. (2016) Children identified in infancy as likely to suffer, significant harm: a prospective longitudinal study: age eight follow-up, London: Department for Education
Journal articles (since 2010)
  • Ward, H. (2011) Continuities and discontinuities: issues concerning the establishment of a persistent sense of self amongst care leavers, Children and Youth Services Review 33 (12) pp 2512-2518
  • Stein, M., Ward, H. and Courtney, M. (2011) Editorial: Transitions to Adulthood of Care Leavers: International Perspectives, Special issue, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 33, Issue 12
  • Holmes, L., Ward, H. and McDermid, S. (2012) Calculating and comparing the costs of multidimensional treatment foster care in English local authorities, Children and Youth Services Review 34(11), 2141-2146,
  • Ward, H. and Brown, R. (2013) Decision-Making within a Child’s Timeframe: A Response, Family Law, September, 2013, Vol 43, Pages 1181-1186
  • Holmes, L.J., Landsverk, J., Ward, H., Rolls-Reutz, J., Saldana, L. and Chamberlain, P. (2014) Workload and cost calculator methods for estimating casework time in child welfare services: a cross-national comparison, Children and Youth Services Review Volume 39, April 2014, 169-176
  • Brown, R. and Ward, H. (2014) Cumulative jeopardy: How professional responses to evidence of abuse and neglect further jeopardise children’s life chances by being out of kilter with timeframes for early childhood development. Children and Youth Services Review Volume 47 (3) December 2014, 260-267
  • McDermid, Samantha; Hyde-Dryden, Georgia; and Ward, Harriet (2015) Looking for long-term outcomes: What early interventions are needed for children and young people at risk of maltreatment in England?, Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies: Vol. 15: Iss. 2, Article 5. Available online at:
  • Ward, H. and Brown, R. (2016) Cumulative jeopardy when children are at risk of significant harm: a response to Bywaters , Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 61, February 2016, Pages 222-229
  • Ward , H. (2016) Enfants places, quels trajectoires ? Et le placement des enfants Outre-Manche? , Journal des professionnels de la petite enfance, February 2016, Vol 99
  • Lushey, C., Barlow, J., Rayns, G. and Ward, H. (2017) Assessing parental capacity when there are concerns about an unborn child: pre-birth assessment guidance and practice in England, Child Abuse Review Vol 27 (2) pp 97-107
  • Tregeagle, Susan , Moggach, Lynne , Trivedi, Helen & Ward, Harriet (2019) Previous life experiences and the vulnerability of children adopted from out-of-home care: The impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and child welfare decision making, Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 96(3), pages 55-63.
Book chapters (since 2010)
  • Ward, H. and Munro, E. (2010) in Fernandez, E. and Barth, R. (eds) How does foster care work? International evidence of outcomes, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Ward, H. and Brown, R. (2013) ‘Safeguarding children in the early years’ in Pugh, G. and Duffy. B. Contemporary Issues in the Early Years , London: Sage, pp. 235-251
  • Ward, H. (2017) ‘Foundling Hospital Token’ in Doel, M. Social Work in 42 Objects, London: Kirwin Maclean Associates
  • Ward, H. (2018) ‘Changing views on safeguarding children since 1987’. In Jones, S. (ed) Thirty Years of Social Change, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp 99-107
  • Barlow, J., Ward, H. and Rayns, G. (2020) ‘Risk assessment during the prenatal period’ in Howarth J. and Platt, D. The Child’s World (Third Edition), London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers


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