Mariela is Postdoctoral Researcher at SKOPE carrying out research for the Nuffield Project, ‘Comparing UK policies, outcomes and inequalities in post-16 education & training.’ Her research interests encompass identity and wellbeing theories, in particular the recognition theory and the Capability Approach, children’s rights and the ethics of care. She takes a multi-disciplinary approach in research, drawing on theories in sociology, psychology, human rights and political science to explore what makes a good life, particularly for young people, in contemporary society.

She holds a doctorate in Social Sciences and a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from New College, University of Oxford. Prior to joining SKOPE, she conducted evaluation research for the Rees Centre, research in social care for  the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, and provided policy advice and conducted research with young people in refugee camps for the AMAR Foundation.

She is a former Head of the National Authority for Children’s Rights in Romania (2007-2009) and former Policy Officer for the office of the European Commission in Romania where she was responsible for the EU intervention to reform the child protection system in Romania (1999 – 2006). Mariela is founding member of the Oxford Children’s Rights Network.

She is the author of ‘Voices from the Silent Cradles’ (Policy Press, 2021), a book which sheds light on children’s homes, foster care, domestic and international adoption from the perspective of the young people who experienced these types of care and which has been reviewed as complementing Sir Michael Rutter’s longitudinal study of Romanian born adoptees. Her work has been published in The International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, the British Journal of Social Work and Children and Youth Services Review. Her article ‘Children by Request: Romania’s children between rights and international politics’ has been cited in John Tobin’s ‘The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Commentary’ (OUP, 2019) and in the 2017 report of the UN Rapporteur on the Sale and Exploitation of Children.

Visit Mariela’s website:


  • Neagu, M. (2021). Voices from the Silent Cradles. Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Voices from the Silent Cradles: Life Histories of Romania’s Looked After Children (pp. 1-224).

  • Book chapters
  • Neagu, M. (2022). Love and the state: why children’s rights matter for children in care. In M. Scherpe & S. Gilmore (Eds.), Family Matters: Essays in Honour of John Eekelaar (pp. 961-980). Intersentia.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Teen years in care and their ways out. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 125-158). Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Romania: what underlay the orphan crisis. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 9-26). Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). The benefit of hindsight: learning for policy and practice. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 187-206). Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Exploring life trajectories: what mattered to them. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 159-186). Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Childhoods in care. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 51-124). Bristol University Press.

  • Neagu, M. (2021). VOICES FROM THE SILENT CRADLES Life Histories of Romania’s Looked-After Children Epilogue. In VOICES FROM THE SILENT CRADLES (pp. 207-208).

  • Neagu, M. (2021). Where do children go when they can’t stay with their families?. In Voices from the Silent Cradles (pp. 27-50). Bristol University Press.

  • Journal articles
  • Neagu, M. (2021). Conceptualising care in children’s social services. The British Journal of Social Work, 51(6), 2080-2096.

  • Neagu, M., & Sebba, J. (2019). Who do they think they are: making sense of self in residential care, foster care, and adoption. Children and Youth Services Review, 105.

  • Neagu, M. (2015). Children by Request: Romania’s Children Between Rights and International Politics. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LAW POLICY AND THE FAMILY, 29(2), 215-236.

  • Reports
  • Sebba, J., Brown, A., Denton-Calabrese, T., HARRISON, N., LUKE, N., NEAGU, M., & Rees, A. (2022). Phase One Evaluation of the Virtual School Head’s Extension of Duties to Children with a Social Worker and the Post-16 Pupil Premium Plus Pilot.