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About

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory improves the lives of children and families by putting data and evidence at the heart of the family justice system.

A child reaches up holding a toy car

Our family justice system urgently needs to improve.

All of the people who work within it – judges, lawyers, social workers, Cafcass guardians, policy makers and more – share a common goal: helping children and families to thrive in the future. But understanding of how to achieve that ambition is limited by a lack of readily available administrative data and research evidence. Too few opportunities also exist for those involved to share their knowledge and experiences.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory exists to find and fill the gaps in our understanding of the family justice system, highlight the areas where change will have the biggest impact, and foster collaboration to make that change happen. A bridge between the academic community and frontline practitioners, we are independent and relentless in our focus on ensuring children get the best support based on the best available information. In everything we do, our work is guided by the experiences of children and families right across England and Wales.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory is being funded and incubated by the Nuffield Foundation during its pilot phase which runs from 2019 to 2023. Our work reflects Nuffield’s commitment to independent thinking, collaboration and rigorous, evidence-based research.

How we work to create change


We work in three closely connected ways:

  • revealing the big picture
  • shining a spotlight on key issues
  • empowering frontline decision makers.

Our values


The following four values are at the core of our work at the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory. They inform and underpin all that we do, and we will use them to hold ourselves to account.

We will continue to return to these values, so that this is a living document that reflects who we are as we grow and learn as an organisation.

Empathy

We recognise that families in the family justice system are facing some of the toughest experiences of their lives and our work needs to be based as much in empathy as it is in intellectual rigour.

Curiosity and independence

We start from a position that there is much to learn and strive to maintain our curiosity to really understand how family justice works and is experienced. We recognise the importance of both qualitative and quantitative data and evidence, as well as lived experience. We approach our work with open minds. We are independent; we come with no agenda other than our determination to help achieve better lives for children and their families.

Collaboration

We recognise all different perspectives and believe that change happens when you work with others and engage with different points of view. This includes the expertise of those with lived experience and professionals.

Equality

We recognise that discrimination and racism exist in society and can be systemic. To achieve better lives for all children and their families we interrogate how different forms of inequalities combine to affect families in the family justice system and work collaboratively and with humility to create change.

Our people

Our team is made up of specialists in research and practice.

Our history

A timeline of key milestones since Nuffield Foundation first proposed a Family Justice Observatory in 2015.

Family Justice Data Partnership

The Family Justice Data Partnership provides Nuffield FJO with ground-breaking analysis about the family justice system.

Profile