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

Our family justice system urgently needs to improve

The family justice system, designed to act in a child’s best interests, is not always effective in doing so.

Children and families, professionals working in and with the family court, government, academics and others paint a picture of systems and services under immense pressure. Understanding how to improve practice to help children and families thrive in the future is sometimes limited by a lack of readily available administrative data, research evidence and opportunities to share knowledge and experiences across the system. 

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. 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 across England and Wales. 

Nuffield Family Justice Observatory was established by the Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social well-being. Funding currently extends to 2026. 

How we work

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.


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.


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.


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.

Rooted in Evidence: Nuffield Family Justice Observatory Strategy 2022 – 26

Read our strategy and five goals for improving the family
justice system

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.