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). In 2019 she co-founded the International Research Network on Infants and Child Protection Systems (https://www.irnicp.org), which she co-directs. 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 has recently completed a major study (with Barnardo’s Australia) of the outcomes of open adoption in New South Wales and is currently working on a study designed to produce national guidance on supporting vulnerable women throughout pregnancy including when infant removal is deemed necessary. 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 (Current)
  • 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) 2019-2022
Books (authored)
  • 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. (eds)(2005), Promoting the Wellbeing of Children, Families and Communities, London: Jessica Kingsley
  • Ward, H., Munro, E., Dearden, C. (2006) Babies and Young children in Care: Life Pathways, Decision-Making and Practice, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Ward, H., Holmes, L. and Soper, J. (2008) Costs and Consequences of Placing Children in Care London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • 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
  • Ward, H., Moggach, L. Tregeagle, S. and Trivedi, H. (2022) Outcomes of Open Adoption from Care: An Australian Contribution to an International Debate, London: Palgrave MacMillan and Springer Nature Switzerland.
  • Guest editor, Children and Society (1998).: Special Edition: Assessing Outcomes in Child Care: An International Perspective
  • Guest editor, Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies (2009), Special Issue: Care Matters: Improving Outcomes for Children in Care, Vol 4, Issue Two
  • Guest editor: Children and Youth Services Review (2011) Special Issue : Leaving Care
  • Guest editor: Child and Family Social Work (2021) Special Issue: Young people’s transitions from care to adulthood: exploring historical narratives
  • Guest editor: Child Abuse Review (forthcoming 2022) Special Issue: Child protection during the perinatal period: Innovation in assessment and practice
  • Book series editor: Ward, H. Outcomes for Vulnerable Children (2004- 2014) Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Book series editor: Davies, C. and Ward, H,: Safeguarding Children Across Services (2010-
    2013) Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Reports: (peer reviewed)
  • Brown, R. and Ward, H. (2012) Decision-making within a Child’s Timeframe, Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre Report to Department for Education, London: Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre
  • 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
  • Broadhurst, K., Alrouh, B., Mason, C., Ward, H., Holmes, L., Ryan, M. and Bowyer, S., (2018). Born into care: Newborns in care proceedings in England. London: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
  • Mason, C., Broadhurst, K., Ward, H., Barnett, A. and Holmes, L. (2022) Born into Care: Developing best practice guidelines for when the state intervenes at birth. Nuffield Family Justice Observatory: London
  • Mason, C., Broadhurst, K., Ward, H., Barnett, A. and Holmes, L. (2022) Born into Care: Draft best practice guidelines for when the state intervenes at birth. Nuffield Family Justice Observatory: London
Book chapters
  • Ward, H., Holmes, L. and Soper, J. (2004) The development of unit costs for social work processes , in Curtis, L. and Netten, A. (eds) Unit Costs of Health and Social Care 2004, Canterbury, PSSRU
  • Holmes, L. and Ward, H. (2006) ‘Costs and Outcomes for Looked after Children’, in J. Barber, P. Dudding and R. Flynn (eds) Promoting Resilient Development in Children Receiving Care. Ottowa: University of Ottawa Press.
  • Scott, J., Ward, H. and Hill, M. (2007) ‘The health of children in residential care’ in Kendrick. A. (ed) Residential Child care: Prospects and Challenges, Research Highlights in Social Work Series, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
  • Ward, H. (2008) ‘Legal and policy frameworks’ in Stein, M. and Munro, E.R. (Eds) Young People’s Transitions from Care to Adulthood: International Perspectives, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp 256-276
  • Ward, H. and Glaser, D. (2009) ‘The developmental needs of children: new evidence for assessment’ .In Howarth, J. The Child’s World, Second Edition, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp160-173
  • Ward, H. and Munro, E. (2010) ‘Very young children in care in England: Issues for foster care’ 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, pp 7-8
    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. Risk assessment during the prenatal period. In Howarth, J. and Platt, D. (2018) The Child’s World (Third Edition), London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp573-593
Journal articles 
  • Polnay, L. and Ward, H. (2000) ‘Promoting the health of looked after children’, (editorial) British Medical Journal, 2000:320, pp 661-2
  • Ward, H., Jones, H., Lynch, M. and Skuse, T. (2002) ‘Issues concerning the health of looked after children’, Adoption and Fostering: 26, 4, 1-11
  • Ward, H., Skuse, T. and Munro, E. (2005) ‘The best of times, the worst of times: children’s views of care and accommodation’ Adoption and Fostering, 29, 1, 8-17
  • Munro, E., Holmes, L. and Ward, H.(2006) ‘Researching vulnerable groups: Ethical issues and the effective conduct of research in local authorities, British Journal of Social Work 35(7), pp1023-1038
  • Munro, E., Stein, M. and Ward, H. (2006) ‘Transitions to adulthood of vulnerable young people: cross national comparisons ‘ International Journal of Child & Family Welfare.
  • Poirier, M-A, Chamberland, C. and Ward, H. (2006) ‘Les interactions entre les adultes qui prennent soins d’un enfant place en famille d’accueil: une etude sur les pratiques quotidiennes de collaboration’ La Revue Internationale de l’Education Familiale: Recherches et Interventions, Vol 20, pp51-85
  • Ward, H. and Holmes, L.(2008) ‘Calculating the costs of local authority care for children with contrasting needs’, Child and Family Social Work, 13 (1), pp 80-90
  • Sempik, J., Ward, H. and Darker, I. (2008) ‘Emotional and behavioural difficulties of children and young people at entry into care’, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 13 (2) 221-233
  • Darker, I., Ward, H. and Caulfield, L. (2008) ‘An analysis of offending in young people looked after by local authorities’, Youth Justice 8(2) :134-148
  • Munro, E.R. and Ward, H. (2008) ‘Balancing parents’ and very young children’s rights in care proceedings : decision-making in the context of the Human Rights Act 1998 ‘, Child and Family Social Work 13 (2) 227-234
  • Ward, H. (2009) ‘Patterns of instability: moves within the English care system: their reasons, contexts and consequences’, Child and Youth Services Review, 31: 1113-1118
  • 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) :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,
  • 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: Volume 15 (2), Article 5.
    Available online at: http://arrow.dit.ie/ijass/vol15/iss2/5
  • 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, 222-229
  • Lushey, C., Barlow, J., Rayns, G. and Ward, H. (2018) Assessing parental capacity when there are concerns about an unborn child: pre-birth assessment guidance and practice in England, Child Abuse Review, 27(2) 97-107
  • Tregeagle, S. , Moggach, L., Trivedi, H. & Ward, H. (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.
  • Ward, H., Brown, R., Blackmore, J., Hyde-Dryden, G. and Thomas, C. (2019): ‘Identifying parents who show capacity to make and sustain positive changes when infants are at risk of significant harm’, Developing Practice 54, pp 46-60
  • Ward, H. (2021) ‘Transitions to adulthood from care in late 19th Century England’, Child and Family Social Work, Vol 26 (2) pp 222-230
  • Stein, M. & Ward, H. (2021) Editorial: Transitions from care to adulthood: Persistent issues across time and place, Child and Family Social Work, Vol 26 (2), pp 215-221
  • Broadhurst, K., Mason, C., Ward, H. (2022) Urgent care proceedings for new-born babies in England and Wales – time for a fundamental review. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 2022, 00, 1–31