Julie Young


  • 1.24 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

  • SWK

Personal profile

Teaching Interests

Further Qualitative Research
MRes Psychology


Julie Young is interested in psychological, social and legal issues centred around parenting and child development. She worked for several years in the fields of education and counselling before joining the UEA in 2001 to work on the Nuffield funded 'Contact after Adoption' study. Subsequently Julie became a key researcher on the DFES 'Helping Birth Families' and 'Supporting Complex Contact' studies. Since then she has contributed to a range of projects at UEA including those exploring the experiences of parents and children involved with children's services along with other topics in the fields of adoption, foster care and child protection. Julie is a graduate member of the British Psychological Society and also contributes to the teaching of Psychology at UEA.   

Key Research Interests

Examples of Current and Recently Completed Research Projects 

2015 - Present: Establishing Outcomes of Care Proceedings Before and After Care Proceedings Reform  (with Prof Jonathan Dickens, and working in conjunction Prof Judith Masson, Ludivine Garside and Kay Baden from Bristol University)

2016-2017: A Survey Investigation of Adoptive Parents' Experiences and Support Needs in the Yorks and Humber Area (with Prof Beth Neil)

2012 - 2014: Research into Care Planning and the Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (with Dr Jonathan Dickens, Prof Gillian Schofield and Dr Chris Beckett) 

Local authorities are ‘corporate parents’ for the children they are looking after, and effective care planning is essential for ensuring their well-being and the best possible outcomes.  Since 2004, there has been a system of ‘independent reviewing officers’ (IROs) to monitor the way that local authorities implement the plans, and to ensure that the child’s wishes and feelings are fully considered.  In April 2011, new government regulations and statutory guidance about care planning came into force, which (amongst other things) strengthened the IRO’s role.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council this project will investigate current practice in care planning and the role of the IRO.  The main goals are to:

Investigate how the new care planning regulations and guidance are being implemented. 

Investigate the effectiveness of IROs for monitoring the plans of the local authority, promoting children's well-being, and managing their participation. 

Examine the overlaps and differences in the roles and responsibilities of the range of individuals involved in planning for children in care, and how disagreements are managed. 

Ascertain the views of children and parents about the care planning and review process, particularly the role of the IRO. 

The research will focus on four local authorities in England and will involve a study of local authority case files on 120 children (30 per area), plus interviews with a smaller sample of social workers, IROs, parents and young people.  There will also be a national survey.

2010 - 2012: Families on the Edge of Care Proceedings: The Operation and Impact of Pre-proceedings Processes in Children's Social Care (with Dr Jonathan Dickens, and working in conjunction Prof Judith Masson and Kay Baden from Bristol University) 

This project  examined local authority practice and decision-making about child protection following the introduction of the Public Law Outline (PLO). Under these procedures introduced in 2008, local authorities must send parents a formal letter to invite them to a meeting before applying to the court for care proceedings (this does not apply where a child needs immediate protection).  This letter qualifies the parents for legal aid and they can bring a legal adviser to the meeting with the social worker. This new procedure is intended to avoid court proceedings; either by helping parents understand the importance of working with the local authority to improve their care or by obtaining parents’ agreement for their child to live with relatives or foster carers. Where proceedings are not avoided it is hoped that the discussions will improve the preparation of cases, reduce disputes and cut the time proceedings take.  The research is examined (1) how local authorities use these procedures; (2) how successful they are in diverting cases from court; and (3) what impact they have on cases which do go to court.  As well as carrying out an examination of local authority files and conducting interviews with practitioners, the researchers observed meetings and interviewed parents.

2008 - 2009: Parenting While Apart – The Experiences of Birth Parents of Children in Long–term Foster Care (with Prof Gillian Schofield and Dr Emma Ward)
This project was funded by the ESRC and was an investigation of a group of parents who are often neglect by research.  Although the role of birth parents is recognised to be a key issue for foster children, the experience of birth parents has received less attention from researchers than the experience of foster carers and foster children.  This is true not only in the UK but also in Scandinavia.  This study was therefore developed in collaboration with the University of Bergen (Dr Toril Havik and Bente Moldestad) and the University of Gothenburg (Dr Ingrid Hojer).  The methodology combined the use of focus groups and qualitative interviews.  In addition, focus groups of children’s social workers discussed the challenges and benefits of working with birth parents of children in long-term foster care.  This international study complemented existing studies of long-term foster care by specifically investigating the experience of birth parents, with the aim of improving the quality of social work practice.

2004 - 2008: Researching Adoption Support (with Dr Beth Neil, Dr Clive Sellick, Lorgelly, P, Cooper M and Healey N)
Part of the DfES Adoption Initiative, this study was a response to new adoption legislation aiming to improve adoption support services.  This research project evaluated how agencies were translating these policy objectives into practice, providing an evidence base for further development.  The project focused on two types of support services: those provided to support the birth relatives of adopted children; and those provided to support face-to-face post-adoption contact between adopted children and members of their birth family.  Different stages of the research involved mapping support service provision in these two areas across England and Wales and an evaluation of support from the perspective of service users (using in-depth semi structured interviews). Detailed information was also collected from agency workers to cost support provision and relate costs to outcomes.  Two BAAF books have recently been published as a result of this large project and as part of a series linked to the DfES Adoption Initiative (see publications list).

2001- 2005: Contact After Adoption (with Dr Beth Neil)

This was a Nuffield funded longitudinal project looking at indirect and face-to-face contact plans, from the perspective of children, adoptive parents and birth relatives (including birth fathers and grandparents).  Using in-depth interviews and standardised measures of child development we looked at the effect of the contact on areas such as the adoptive parents’ feelings of attachment to the child, child behaviour and self esteem, child’s understanding of adoption, and birth relatives’ adjustment to and acceptance of the adoption.  The experience of a one-off meeting between adoptive parents and birth relatives around the time of the adoption was also isolated and examined as an influencing factor on some outcome variables. Alongside structural differences in contact, we also considered the influence of the adoptive parent’s ‘communicative openness’, developing a coding system influenced by Brodzinsky (2005).  In addition we looked more generally at all parties satisfaction with both getting letters and having visits with adult birth relatives. The project has contributed to a book by Neil E and Howe D Contact in Adoption and Permanent Foster Care: Research, Theory and Practice.  London: British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering.


Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or