Children and Families

Group Leader: Dr Sarah Bekaert


About us

The focus of the work of the Children and Families Research Group is around children, young people and family wellbeing. Our research around children covers the prenatal period, up to age 18 years. It includes research on safeguarding, child protection, child health, looked-after children, and the role of the family unit including parenting, school, and community influences on child and family wellbeing.

We are interested in research that makes a difference to the lives of children and families and improves health and wellbeing outcomes. Our family-focused research covers additional topics such as domestic violence and abuse, family community services and the development of resilience.

Our work takes place in family homes, hospitals, schools and with the wider community including health, social care and third sector services. Regular meetings of the Children and Families Research Group bring together researchers, students, academics and practitioners who have an interest in children, young people and family wellbeing and who wish to develop research and influence policy and practice in this area. Our research has been funded by a range of organisations. The OxCAF_research Group works closely with the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University.  

Girl talking to a social worker


Sarah Bekaert

Dr Sarah Bekaert

Senior Lecturer

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Name Role Email
Dr Haggi Michael Haggi Ansera Research Fellow
Katy Burch Assistant Director
Dr Jane Carpenter Programme Lead, Midwifery and Lead Midwife for Education
Dr Georgia Cook Research Fellow
Mr Lindsey Coombes Associate Lecturer
Dr Clive Diaz Senior Lecturer in Social Work
Professor David Foxcroft Professor of Community Psychology and Public Health
Mr Jon Hyslop Senior Lecturer in Social Work
Professor Mary Malone Researcher
Dr Kathy Mumby-Croft Lecturer in Adult Nursing
Professor Louise Taylor Professor of Education and Student Experience
Dr Farzaneh Yazdani Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy


Name Thesis Title Supervisors Completed
Helen Bosley Maternal Attitudes to Antibiotic Use: A Community Based Case Study


Sharon Brownie Nursing and Health Service Leadership: The Power to Influence Professor Debra Jackson


Georgia Cook Parental influences on children’s sleep Professor Luci Wiggs 2019
Samantha Jane Donohue What is the experince of professional enjoyment in nursing? 2022
Monica Duman How are chronologies and neglect assessment tools used by health and social care practitioners to identify and assess child neglect? Dr Sarah Bekaert 2023
Briony Enser Alcohol Driven Harm to Others Professor David Foxcroft 2018
Kimberley Harcourt Weight loss and weight loss maintenance using exercise, nutrition and behaviour change strategies among an overweight/obese, pre-diabetic adult population 2019
Lauren Harding How do school nurses identify and work with school-aged children at risk of child abuse and neglect? Dr Sarah Bekaert 2020
Jon Hyslop How Do Peer Networks Enable Service Users and Informal Careers to Obtain and Manage Personal Budgets 2019
Mrs Josie Jacobs Developing a Resilience Intervention to Promote Thriving in Parents of Primary School Children Dr Emma Davies, Professor Louise Taylor


Elizabeth Jestico What are parents’ experiences of being supported by significant others, when faced with making decisions about their child’s cancer case? A phenomenological study


Karen Lascelles Experiences and Support Needs of Adult Carers of Adults at Risk of Suicide: A Mixed Methods Doctoral Research Study 2022
Claire Litchfield Is the use of water immersion for women in labour or giving birth both safe and effective as a method for improving rates of normal birth for women who are obese? Dr Jane Carpenter, Dr Louise Hunter, Professor Mary Malone


Catherine Lowenhoff Moving on from ‘Listening Visits’: a mixed methods, multi-phase study exploring the support that health visitors provide to mothers with mental health problems


Mark Mason The illegal drug use behaviours and social circumstances of older adult regular Class A drug users 2015
Elaine Strachan-Hall Robots in Nursing: False Rhetoric or Future Reality? 2022
Fiona Tierney Families’ experience of using sleep-related routines with their young children Dr Georgia Cook, Professor Anna Barnett, Professor Luci Wiggs 2023
Suzanne Watts An exploration of the referral and communication systems between primary health care professionals and children's social care services


Diana Yardley An exploration of health care professionals’ perceptions of non-medical factors affecting management of Type 1 diabetes in children Dr Olga Kozlowska, Dr Sarah Bekaert



Active projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates


Stopping Child Maltreatment through Pan-European Multiprofessional Training Programme: Early Child Protection Work with Families at Risk.
Alex Baldacchino, Eija Paavilainen European Commission From: December 2019
Until: December 2021

A synthesis of the evidence for effective parenting support

Dr Haggi Michael Haggi Ansera, Dr Helen Aveyard, Professor Mary Malone, Dr Kathy Mumby-Croft Public Health England From: March 2021
Until: January 2022

Evaluating the Navigator Project

Trauma informed support for young people attending the ED as a result of violence.
Dr Sarah Bekaert Brookes Research Excellence Award From: August 2021
Until: March 2022

Using data and technology to support survivors of domestic violence

Professor Caroline Bradbury-Jones, Dr Joht Singh Chandan NIHR From: June 2021
Until: August 2022

Protecting children and young people vulnerable to harm and abuse

Learning from School of Nursing practices and new ways of working in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Sarah Bekaert GNCT From: September 2021
Until: August 2022

Mitigating the harms of maternal related Adverse Child Experiences

This project looks at which health visiting models in England are most promising for mitigating the harms of maternal related Adverse Child Experiences.

Professor Ruth Gilbert, Dr Katie Harron, Dr Jenny Woodman NIHR From: February 2022
Until: January 2026

Seminars and events

The Children and Families Research Group host a seminar series in Semester 1 of each academic year. We are grateful to all of our speakers and to the many staff, students and professionals who enthusiastically support these events. 

Our first seminar in Semester 1 2021/22:

Virtual seminar

How has a think family approach been put into practice when responding to vulnerable children: a scoping review and illustrative qualitative study? 

If you would like to attend, please contact Professor Jane Appleton or Dr Sarah Bekaert.


  • Appleton J.V. (2021) Editorial: Vulnerable Children and Early Intervention: What about Health Visiting? Child Abuse Review. 30 (2): 89-97.
  • Bekaert, S & Appleton JV. (2021) Ch 60 Intimate Partner Violence in Teen Relationships, in The Sage Handbook of Domestic Violence. Edited by Shackelford T.K,
  • Whittaker K, Appleton J.V., Peckover, S. and Adams C. (2021) Organising health visiting services in the UK: Frontline perspectives. Journal of Health Visiting 9 (2):
  • Bosley H, Appleton JV, Henshall C, Jackson D. (2020). The influence of perceived accessibility and expertise of healthcare professionals, and service austerity, on mothers' decision-making. Health Soc Care Community. 29 (2): 526-534.
  • Cook G, Appleton J.V. and Wiggs L. (2020) 'Parentally reported barriers to seeking help and advice for child sleep from healthcare professionals' Child: Care, Health and Development. ISSN: 0305-1862 eISSN: 1365-2214.
  • Harding L, Bekeart S. and Appleton J.V. (2020) Exploring the challenges of using electronic health record systems in nursing research. Nurse Researcher. 9 April. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1695.
  • Harding L, Davison-Fischer J, Bekeart S. and Appleton J.V. (2019) The role of the school nurse in protecting children and young people from maltreatment: An integrative review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 92: 60-72.
  • Bekaert, S and Bradly, J. 2019. The Increasingly Leaky Stigma of the ‘Pregnant Teen’: When Does ‘Young Motherhood’ Cease to be Problematic? Studies in the Maternal, 11(1): 8, pp. 1–8. DOI: https://
  • Appleton J., Powell C. & Coombes L. (2016) Children's missed healthcare appointments: professional and organisational responses. Arch Dis Child. 0:1–5. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2015-309621