RDAC: Rethinking Domestic abuse in child protection: responding differently

Published: 07/06/2022

Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, RDAC brings together researchers from the Universities of Sheffield, Huddersfield, Kingston, with Research in Practice, SafeLives and FutureMen. The team will work to better understand and improve the national response to domestic abuse and child protection.


Rethinking Domestic abuse in child protection: responding differently (RDAC) is an exciting research project which brings together a team of researchers, domestic abuse specialists and experts in supporting policy and practice change. The team includes the Universities of Sheffield, Huddersfield, Kingston and the charities Research in Practice, SafeLives and FutureMen. The team will undertake work which could have a profound impact on the lives of children and families experiencing domestic abuse and violence.

RDAC is made possible due to a Nuffield Foundation award to better understand and enhance our national response to domestic abuse and child protection. It will offer a unique opportunity to co-produce practice frameworks that engage with family members with a focus on their parenting and caring roles. Using advanced mixed methods based upon recognising the importance of intersecting inequalities, RDAC will produce nuanced understandings to support practice responses that are attuned to the life circumstances of some of the most vulnerable families in the UK. 

This project will build on the learning gained during the Domestic Abuse and Child Protection Change Project, involving over 30 local authorities from across England, which identified key areas for development. RDAC will involve case study sites in England and Scotland, and will include speaking to families, as well as policy makers, practitioners, and practice leaders. 

If we can support people to think and do differently in this space, we should see a reduction of the pressure on child protection systems. We should see families feeling respected and supported, women and men feeling supported in a different way and ultimately, that should mean children, women and families are less likely to live the consequences of domestic abuse and violence. Professor Morris.

It has been estimated that more than 25% of children and young people live with an adult who has experienced domestic abuse and violence. It was a feature of 42.6% of incidents involving serious harm to children in 2020 and a key factor in why children came into care and/or involved with child protection systems. 

While there have been important developments in practice over the last decade, there continues to be a need to advance responses to those who are being harmed and those who harm in order to improve outcomes and promote sustainable change for children and their families. In particular, there is an urgent need to ensure such responses learn from the expertise of those impacted and to pay careful attention to how gender combines with socioeconomic circumstances, age, dis/ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation to shape their experiences. 

View more project information.

The RDAC Team

The RDAC project team is led by Kate Morris, Professor of Social Work in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield, with Professor Brid Featherstone from the University of Huddersfield. Colleagues from the Universities of Sheffield, Huddersfield and Kingston University will collaborate with partners from SafeLives, FutureMen and Research in Practice.


News and updates regarding the project will be listed here, so please continue to check back regularly and review the related content below.

For any questions, or to reach a member of the research team, please contact Dr Jessica Wild: Jessica.Wild@researchinpractice.org.uk.