Research Associate, CASCADE

Cardiff University


Research Associate, CASCADE

Cardiff University School of Social Sciences is seeking to recruit a Research Associate to work within the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) Research Centre that is located within the School.

The working title for the research project, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is “Evaluation of family group conferencing for children and families: Context, implementation, and effectiveness”.

Family group conferences (FGCs) in child welfare bring immediate and wider family members together to decide on the best way to meet a child’s needs. Unlike in professionally-led traditional case conferences, decision-making is shared with family members.

Qualitative and mixed-method research with FGC participants tends to show positive experiences: most participants feel their voices are heard; FGCs facilitate family-driven solutions and closer relationships – within families and with social workers. Although there is an existing literature on FGCs, there is a paucity of robust comparative UK evaluations. Comparative studies internationally have focused on a fairly narrow range of outcomes, not recognised the importance of context on FGC effects, and paid little attention to quality of delivery. Some qualitative studies have considered process and context but there is scant measurement of these.

The aim of this study is to establish how FGCs improve outcomes for families and what factors vary their quality. Given the importance of process and context, an evaluation informed by realist and complex systems approaches is needed.

The research questions are:

  • What is the extent and nature of FGC provision for child welfare in the UK?
  • How do families and practitioners see FGCs as impacting on families and what do they think might support or hinder their effectiveness?
  • How does variation in the quality and implementation of FGCs impact on outcomes and acceptability?
  • What are the longer terms outcomes of FGCs in terms of service use, e.g., child protection involvement and health care? How do these compare with similar families who have not taken part in FGCs and what are the economic consequences of FGCs?

This is a multi-method evaluation, including the following elements:

Work package (WP) 1 (work on this WP is complete)

  • Identification and modelling of FGCs in the UK; modelling programme theory and development of evaluation design.
  • A survey of FGC projects in all UK local authorities to map service provision.
  • Co-production of programme theory and evaluation measures with family members who have experienced an FGC and practitioners in each of two sites, working with peer researchers.


  • Prospective single-arm study of FGC variability and outcomes after 12 months. Most of the part-time post will be devoted to this WP.


  • Comparison of service use in FGC participants and a comparison group after 2 years using a natural experiment, based on anonymised routine administrative data.

The evaluation questionnaire which is co-produced with families and practitioners will be available for use in routine FGC practice beyond the life of the project. Findings about FGC process, context and outcomes should be relevant to improving practice. There will be dissemination in accessible formats for practitioners and families, including video, as well as via academic conferences and journals.

This post is part-time (14 hours per week), fixed term from 1st February 2024 until 30th September 2025.

Salary: £39,347 – £44,263, per annum, pro rata for part time hours (Grade 6), with 4 annual increments up to £44,263 per annum, pro-rata (final salary at top of grade).

Responsible to Professor Jonathan Scourfield

For an informal discussion about the role please contact Jonathan, [email protected] 

Cardiff University offers many excellent benefits, including 45 days annual leave, pro rata for part time workers (including bank holidays) blended working (meaning you will be able to work from home for some of your time), a cycle to work scheme and other travel initiatives, annual increments up the pay scale, and more. It is an exciting and vibrant place to work, with many different challenges and is a proud Living Wage supporter.

As the biggest university in Wales – and a major employer, with more than 7,000 staff – we are an ambitious and innovative university located in a beautiful and thriving capital city. We can offer you the chance to work in a vibrant organisation, with great benefits and opportunities for progression.

In Higher Education, female and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) staff are underrepresented in senior academic roles. Applications are therefore particularly welcome from applicants who identify as female and / or BAME. We also welcome applications from members of the LGBT+ Community. We will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share opportunities.

Date advert posted: Thursday, 7 December 2023

Closing Date: Thursday, 4 January 2024

Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds.  We therefore welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of sex, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, trans identity, relationship status, religion or belief, caring responsibilities, or age.  In supporting our employees to achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives, we will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share arrangements.

Cardiff University is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which means that in hiring and promotion decisions we will evaluate applicants on the quality of their research, not publication metrics or the identity of the journal in which the research is published. More information is available at:  Responsible research assessment – Research – Cardiff University .

Job Description

To conduct research within children’s social care, leading to high-quality publications, and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same.


  • To conduct research within children’s social care and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs including bidding for funding, publishing in national academic journals, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students. 
  • To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals.
  • To attend and or present at conferences/seminars at a local and national level as required.
  • To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research project, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting.
  • To prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate.
  • To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field.
  • To participate in School research activities.
  • To build and create networks both internally and externally to the university, to influence decisions, explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects.


  • To engage effectively with public and voluntary sector organisations, professional institutions, other academic institutions etc., regionally and nationally to raise awareness of the School’s profile, to cultivate strategically valuable alliances, and to pursue opportunities for collaboration across a range of activities. These activities are expected to contribute to the School and the enhancement of its regional and national profile.
  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance.
  • To participate in School administration and activities to promote the School and its work to the wider University and the outside world.
  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

  • Postgraduate degree at PhD level (or nearing completion) or equivalent research experience.
  • An established expertise and proven portfolio of research and/or relevant practice in the children’s social care field, and/or expertise through experience of using child and family services.
  • Knowledge of current status of research in children’s social care.
  • Good familiarity with both qualitative and quantitative research and ability to use the methods specified for the current funded project.
  • Proven ability to publish in national or international journals and conferences and other research outputs.
  • Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies.
  • Proven ability in effective and persuasive communication.
  • Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals.
  • Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work.
  • Proven ability to work without close supervision.
  • Desirable Criteria

  • Evidence of collaborations with families and professionals in the children’s social care field.
  • Understanding of realist and complex systems approaches to evaluation.
  •  Evidence of ability to participate in and develop both internal and external networks and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the Centre and School.
  • IMPORTANT: Evidencing Criteria

     It is Cardiff University’s policy to use the person specification as a key tool for shortlisting. Therefore, candidates must evidence they meet ALL the essential criteria and, where relevant, the desirable.

    As part of the application process, you are asked to provide this evidence via a supporting statement. Please ensure that the evidence you are providing corresponds with the numbered criteria outlined in the person specification. Your application will be considered based on the information you provide for each criterion.

     When attaching the supporting statement to your application profile, please ensure you name it with the vacancy reference number: XXXXBR.

    Your application will be at risk of not being progressed if you do not evidence you have met all essential criteria. The school welcomes the submission of CVs to accompany evidence of the job-based criteria.

    Please note that these are also the criteria shortlisted applicants will be assessed against at interview and/or by other means (e.g. a skills test).

    Additional Information

    The Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE)

    The Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) is concerned with all aspects of community responses to social need in children and families, including family support services, children in need services, child protection, looked after children and adoption. It aims first and foremost to improve the well-being and safety of children and their families by:

    • Generating primary research evidence of an internationally recognised high quality.
    • Making the results of this research, and research produced elsewhere, available in an accessible form for children and families who receive social care services, professionals and policymakers.
    • Developing social care research capacity in Wales by providing opportunities for researchers from undergraduate through to senior career stages.
    • Engaging a range of collaborators in research, including children and young people, parents and carers, practitioners, policymakers and social care providers from the public, private and third sectors.

    CASCADE is based within Cardiff University School of Social Sciences. The School is an inter-disciplinary centre of teaching and research. With strong links with industry and medicine, it seeks to lead on public and policy debates at international, national, and local levels and is renowned for its innovative scholarship across the social sciences and beyond.

    The School has a large student population, with almost 1000 undergraduates, and 300 postgraduates (including 100 doctoral students). The School has ESRC recognition for doctoral training in the fields of Criminology, Social Policy, Sociology, Education, and Science, Technology and Innovation. Our taught and postgraduate research programmes welcome students from around the world. The School hosts a number of research centres and institutes, including the Universities’ Police Studies Institute (UPSI), now part of the University’s Crime & Security Research, Institute; Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD); Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE); the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHER); Cardiff Unit for Research and Evaluation in Medical and Dental Education
    (CUREMeDE); Centre for the Study of Knowledge, Expertise and Science (KES); and the Seafarers’ International Research Centre (SIRC).

    Cardiff University School of Social Sciences holds an Athena SWAN Bronze Award that recognises good employment practice and a commitment to develop the careers of women working in academia.  Cardiff University is an equal opportunities employer and positively encourages applications from suitably qualified and eligible candidates regardless of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief, marital status, or pregnancy and maternity. For this vacancy, we actively encourage women to apply. We will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share opportunities.

    Job Category

    Academic – Research

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