Harriet Ward


Harriet Ward is Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Research at Loughborough University and Honorary Research Fellow at the Rees Centre, University of Oxford.


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, with Fred Wulczyn and Jane Barlow,  she founded the International Network on Infants and Toddlers in Child Protection. She has a EUSARF lifetime achievement award and was awarded a CBE for services to children and families in 2012.


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, and (with colleagues from Lancaster University) on the development of national guidelines aimed at improving practice concerning parent/infant removal in the first few days of life. Findings from Harriet’s research programme have underpinned developments in policy and practice concerning child protection, children in care and adoption in the UK, the USA, Australia and several European countries.

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