Karen Broadhurst is Professor of Social Work in the Department of Sociology. She also directs the
Centre for Child and Family Justice Research which is co-hosted by the Departments of Law and
Sociology. Karen led the Scoping Study for the Family Justice Observatory, and is expert advisor to
the Children’s Social Care What Works Centre.
Karen has an ongoing commitment to supporting the use of social science evidence in family court
decision making. Her research spans social science and the law, and her primary interest is in the
impact of State intervention on family life. Karen has a long-standing interest in alternatives to
adversarial justice and the potential therapeutic contribution of treatment courts. Karen’s work has
exposed the scale of recidivism in family justice, leading to major investment in preventative
solutions that aim to support parental rehabilitation. Her work has also stimulated considerable
debate about placement and support options for vulnerable parents and infants in the immediate
post-natal period. With colleagues in Australia and funding from the Australian Research Council,
she is also examining changing patterns of infant entry to care in the US, UK and Australia, with a
specific focus on socio-demographic disparities.
Karen has a particular interest in the ethical and methodological challenges, but also practical value,
of large-scale administrative data for social research. She is currently leading a programme of work
(2018 - 2023) in partnership with colleagues at the SAIL Databank (Swansea University), which aims
to build capability in the use of data collected routinely by government and other agencies. Use of
population-level data is in its infancy in the field of family justice and this Nuffield initiative, speaks
to long-standing concerns about the limited and contested place of social science in family court
Karen’s work is extensively published in range of social work, social science, health and legal
academic journals but also in accessible and alternative formats, for policy makers, practitioners and
children and families.