Professor Brid Featherstone

Professor of Social Work | 01484 472457


I joined the University of Huddersfield in October 2015 as Professor of Social Work. I qualified as a social worker and worked in the field of social work from 1982-1992. I have been involved in social work education and research since then and have worked at universities in Ireland, England and Germany.

I have an international reputation in the areas of gender, fathers and child protection. My recent co-authored book (with Sue White and Kate Morris) 'Re-imagining Child Protection: towards humane social work with families' has been highly influential and led to invitations to speak and advise on reforming child protection nationally and internationally. An article with White and Morris 'A marriage made in hell: early intervention meets child protection’, British Journal of Social Work, 44, 1735-1749 won the Kay McDougall prize for article of the year in 2015.

Research & Scholarship

Research projects

  • 2015-2017 Child Welfare Inequalities with Universities of Coventry (lead), Cardiff, Nottingham, Queen’s University, Belfast, Stirling and Edinburgh (Funders: Nuffield) (Role Co-I)
  • 2014-2015 Family Inclusive Thinking, Policy and Practice After 'Think Family’ with University of Birmingham and Nottingham University (Funders: ESRC Knowledge Exchange) (Role: Co-I)
  • 2013-2016 Researching families with complex needs with Professor Kate Morris (Funders: Family Rights Group ) (Role: PI)
  • 2013-2015 Beyond male role models: Gender Identities in Action with Martin Robb OU and Sandy Ruxton, Independent Consultant l (Funders: ESRC Grant No: ES/K005863/) (Role: Co-I) (Read the report)
  • 2012 Evaluation of Advice and Advocacy Services (Funders: Family Rights Group) (Role: PI)
  • 2010-2011 Evaluation of Triple P Parenting Programme with colleagues in Child and Family Research Centre, NUI, Galway (Funders: Longford Westmeath Parenting Partnership) (Role: PI)
  • 2009-2011 A feasibility study for a randomised controlled trial of a training intervention to improve the engagement of fathers in the child protection system (Cardiff University, University of Michigan and National University of Ireland, Galway) (Funders: National Institute for Social Care and Health Research, Wales) (Role: Consultant)
  • 2008-2011 Evaluation of Parental Advocacy Scheme (Funders: Family Rights Group) (Role: PI)
  • 2008-2009 Review of Safeguarding Arrangements (Funders: Bradford Safeguarding Children Board) (Role: PI)
  • 2008 Parents’ views of Parent Support Services (Funders: Bradford Metropolitan Council) (Role: PI)
  • 2007-2010 Engaging Mothers and Fathers: Challenges for Social Services Practices (McGill University, Montreal) (Funders: Standard Research Grant - Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) (Role: International Partner)
  • 2006-2008 Gender and Child Welfare, International Collaboration with McGill University, University of York and University of Cardiff, (Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) (Role: Member of team)
  • 2004-2010 Fathers Matter (Family Rights Group in association with a varying range of partners including the Grandparents Association) (Funders: Parenting Fund, DfES and DCSF) (Role: Member of team)
  • 2004-2006 ‘Dads and Lads’ programme (With Fathers Direct and NCRC) (Funders: YMCA) (Role: Member of team)
  • 2002 Evaluation of Family Support in a School Setting (With NCRC) (Funders: The Children’s Society) (Role: Co-I)
  • 2001-2002 Families’ perceptions of the core assessment process (With NCRC) (Funders: Kirklees, Metropolitan Council) (Role: Co-I)
  • 2001 Evaluation of Parenting Programme for Fathers (Funders: Kirklees MDC) (Role; PI)
  • 2000-2006 Sure Start evaluation (with Nationwide Children’s Research Centre (NCRC)) (Funders: Sure Start local programme) (Role: Co-I)

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Morris, K., Mason, W., Bywaters, P., Featherstone, B., Daniel, B., Brady, G., Bunting, L., Hooper, J., Mirza, N., Sourfield, J. and Webb, C. (2018) ‘Social work, poverty, and child welfare interventionsChild and Family Social Work . ISSN 1356-7500


Bunting, L., McCartan, C., McGhee, J., Bywaters, P., Daniel, B., Featherstone, B. and Slater, T. (2017) ‘Trends in child protection across the UK - a comparative analysisBritish Journal of Social Work . ISSN 0045-3102

McGhee, J., Bunting, L., McCartan, C., Elliott, M., Bywaters, P. and Featherstone, B. (2017) ‘Looking after children in the UK – convergence or divergence?British Journal of Social Work . ISSN 0045-3102

Davidson, G., Bunting, L., Bywaters, P., Featherstone, B. and McCartan, C. (2017) ‘Child welfare as justice: why are we not effectively addressing inequalities?British Journal of Social Work . ISSN 1468-263X

Bywaters, P., Brady, G., Bunting, L., Daniel, B., Featherstone, B., Jones, C., Morris, K., Scourfield, J., Sparks, T. and Webb, C. (2017) ‘Inequalities in English child protection practice under austerity: a universal challenge?Child & Family Social Work . ISSN 1356-7500

Featherstone, B., Morris, K., Daniel, B., Bywaters, P., Brady, G., Bunting, L., Mason, W. and Mirza, N. (2017) ‘Poverty, inequality, child abuse and neglect: Changing the conversation across the UK in child protection?Children and Youth Services Review . ISSN 0190-7409

Mason, W. and Featherstone, B. (2017) ‘Reframing child welfare inequalities: making sense with research and changing the conversationDiscover Society , 45.

Bilson, A., Featherstone, B. and Martin, K. (2017) ‘How child protection’s ‘investigative turn’ impacts on poor and deprived communitiesFamily Law Journal , 47 (4), pp. 416-419. ISSN 0014-7281

Ward, M., Tarrant, A., Terry, G., Featherstone, B., Robb, M. and Ruxton, S. (2017) ‘Doing Gender Locally: The importance of ‘place’ in understanding marginalised masculinities and young men’s transitions to ‘safe’ and successful futuresThe Sociological Review , 65 (4), pp. 797-815. ISSN 0038-0261


Featherstone, B., Robb, M., Ruxton, S. and Ward, M. (2016) ‘‘They are just good people….generally good people’: Perspectives of young men on relationships with social care workers in the UKChildren and Society . ISSN 0951-0605

Gupta, A. and Featherstone, B. (2016) ‘What about my dad? Black fathers and the child protection systemCritical and Radical Social Work , 4 (1), pp. 77-91. ISSN 2049-8608

Featherstone, B., Gupta, A., Morris, K. and Warner, J. (2016) ‘Let’s stop feeding the risk monster: towards a social model of ‘child protection’Families, Relationships and Societies . ISSN 2046-7443

Featherstone, B (2016) ‘Telling different stories about poverty, inequality and child abuse and neglectFamilies, Relationships and Societies , 5 (1), pp. 147-153. ISSN 2046-7443


Tarrant, A., Featherstone, B., ODell, L. and Fraser, C. (2015) ‘"You try to keep a brave face on but inside you are in bits": Grandparent experiences of engaging with professionals in Childrens ServicesQualitative Social Work . ISSN 1473-3250

Tew, J., Morris, K., White, S., Featherstone, B. and Fenton, S. (2015) ‘What has happened to ‘Think Family’ – challenges and achievements in implementing family inclusive practice’. In: Parental Mental Health and Child Welfare Work. : Pavilion Publishing and Media. pp. 59-64. ISBN 9781910366912

Bywaters, P., Brady, G., Sparks, T., Bos, E., Bunting, L., Daniel, B., Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and Scourfield, J. (2015) ‘Exploring inequities in child welfare and child protection services: Explaining the ‘inverse intervention law’Children and Youth Services Review , 57, pp. 98-105. ISSN 0190-7409

Christie, A. and Featherstone, B. (2015) Social Work in Ireland : changes and continuities . : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137383204

Lonne, B., Harries, M., Featherstone, B. and Gray, M. (2015) Working Ethically in Child Protection . : Routledge. ISBN 978-0415729338


Gupta, A., Featherstone, B. and White, S. (2014) ‘Reclaiming Humanity: From Capacities to Capabilities in Understanding Parenting in AdversityBritish Journal of Social Work , 46 (2), pp. 339-354. ISSN 0045-3102

Featherstone, B (2014) ‘Working with fathers : risk or resource’. In: Family Troubles?: Exploring Changes and Challenges in the Family Lives of Children and Young People. : Policy Press. pp. 315-326. ISBN 9781447304449

Green, L. and Featherstone, B. (2014) ‘Judith Butler, power and social work’. In: Rethinking Anti-Discriminatory and Anti-Oppressive Theories for Social Work Practice. : Palgrave Macmillan. . ISBN 9781137023971

Featherstone, B., Morris, K. and White, S. (2014) ‘A Marriage Made in Hell: Early Intervention Meets Child ProtectionBritish Journal of Social Work , 44 (7), pp. 1735-1749. ISSN 0045-3102

Featherstone, B., White, S. and Morris, K. (2014) Re-imagining child protection : towards humane social work with families . : Policy Press. ISBN 9781447308010

White, S., Morris, K., Featherstone, B., Brandon, M. and Thoburn, J. (2014) ‘Re-imagining early help : looking forward, looking back’. In: Moving on from Munro: Improving children's services. : Policy Press. pp. 73-88. ISBN 9781447315667


Maxwell, N., Scourfield, J., Holland, S., Featherstone, B. and Lee, J. (2012) ‘The Benefits and Challenges of Training Child Protection Social Workers in Father EngagementChild Abuse Review , 21 (4), pp. 299-310. ISSN 0952-9136

Featherstone, B. and Fraser, C. (2012) ‘Working with Fathers around Domestic Violence: Contemporary DebatesChild Abuse Review , 21 (4), pp. 255-263. ISSN 0952-9136

Featherstone, B., Broadhurst, K. and Holt, K. (2012) ‘Thinking Systemically--Thinking Politically: Building Strong Partnerships with Children and Families in the Context of Rising InequalityBritish Journal of Social Work , 42 (4), pp. 618-633. ISSN 0045-3102

Featherstone, B. and Morris, K. (2012) ‘Feminist ethics of care’. In: The SAGE Handbook of Social Work. : Sage. pp. 341-354. ISBN 9781849207515

Maxwell, N., Scourfield, J., Featherstone, B., Holland, S. and Tolman, R. (2012) ‘Engaging fathers in child welfare services: a narrative review of recent research evidenceChild and Family Social Work , 17 (2), pp. 160-169. ISSN 1356-7500

Featherstone, B. and Fraser, C. (2012) ‘‘I'm just a mother. I'm nothing special, they're all professionals’: parental advocacy as an aid to parental engagementChild and Family Social Work , 17 (2), pp. 244-253. ISSN 1356-7500

Featherstone, B., White, S. and Wastell, D. (2012) ‘Ireland's Opportunity to Learn from England's Difficulties? Auditing Uncertainty in Child ProtectionIrish Journal of Applied Social Studies , 12 (1). ISSN 1393-7022


Featherstone, B (2011) ‘The current economic crisis in Ireland: Why social work needs to be part of the challenge to a discredited systemComunitania. Revista Internacional de Trabajo Social y Ciencias Sociales , 1 (1), pp. 17-29. ISSN 2173-0512


Featherstone, B., Hooper, C., Scourfield, J. and Taylor, J. (2010) Gender and Child Welfare in Society . : Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9780470681879


Featherstone, B (2009) Contemporary Fathering: Theory, Policy and Practice . : Policy Press. ISBN 9781861349873


Featherstone, B., Rivett, M. and Scourfield, J. (2007) Working with Men in Health and Social Care . : Sage. ISBN 9781412918497

Featherstone, B. and Peckover, S. (2007) ‘Letting them get away with it: Fathers, domestic violence and child welfare'Critical Social Policy , 27 (2), pp. 181-202. ISSN 0261-0183


Featherstone, B. and Manby, M. (2006) ‘Working with families: messages for policy and practice from an evaluation of a school-based projectChildren and Society , 20 (1), pp. 30-39. ISSN 1099-0860

Ashley, C., Featherstone, B., Roskill, C., Ryan, M. and White, S. (2006) Research findings on fathers and their involvement with social care services London, UK: Family Rights Group


Fawcett, B., Featherstone, B. and Goddard, J. (2004) Contemporary child care policy and practice . : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780333973798

Featherstone, B. and Evans, H. (2004) Children experiencing maltreatment: who do they turn to? NSPCC


Featherstone, B (2003) Family Life and Family Support: A Feminist Analysis . : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780333973783

Featherstone, B (2003) Family life and family support: a feminist analysis . : Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780333973783

Featherstone, B (2003) ‘Taking fathers seriouslyBritish Journal of Social Work , 33 (2), pp. 239-254. ISSN 0045-3102

Frost, N. and Featherstone, B. (2003) ‘Families, social change and diversity’. In: The practitioner's guide to working with families. : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39-54. ISBN 9780333922644


Featherstone, B., Goddard, J. and Fawcett, B. (2002) ‘Current developments: New Labour, Children's Rights and the United Nations: could do betterJournal of social welfare and family law , 24 (4), pp. 475-484. ISSN 0964-9069

Featherstone, B (2002) ‘Gender and child abuse’. In: Child Protection Handbook 2nd edition. London, UK: Elsevier. pp. 114-128. ISBN 978-0-7020-2584-6


Featherstone, B (2001) ‘Putting fathers on the child welfare agendaChild & Family Social Work , 6 (2), pp. 179-186. ISSN 13567500


Fawcett, B., Featherstone, B., Fook, J. and Rossiter, A. (1999) Practice and Research in Social Work: Postmodern Feminist Perspectives . : Routledge. ISBN 9780415195119

Adams, C., Ashworth, A., Blyth, E., Cooper, H., Erooga, M., Featherstone, B., Green, L., Hearn, J., Horrocks, C., Jones, J., Karban, K., Kelly, N., Masson, H., Milner, J., Myers, J., O'Neill, T., Parkin, W., Singh, G., Smith, S. and Waddell, A. (1999) Children, Child Abuse and Child Protection: Placing Children Centrally . London, UK: John Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-98641-6


Featherstone, B. and Hollway, W. (1997) Mothering and Ambivalence . : Routledge. ISBN 9780415139106


Hearn, J., Fawcett, B., Featherstone, B. and Toft, C. (1996) Violence and gender relations: theories and interventions . London, UK: Sage. ISBN 0803976496

Fawcett, B., Featherstone, B., Hearn, J. and Toft, C. (1996) ‘Introduction’. In: Violence and Gender Relations: Theories and Interventions. London, UK: Sage. pp. 1-5. ISBN 080397650X


  • 2015 Co-chair of Association of Professors of Social Work
  • 2014 Conferred as a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences
  • 2013-2015 Chairperson of the Children and Families Faculty, The College of Social Work
  • 2012-2016 Co-editor of the journal Families, Relationships and Societies: An international; journal of research and debate

Selected advisory and consultancy roles

  • 2009-2010 Academic Advice on Man Made: a report produced by the Coalition on Men and Boys (funded by the Home Office, the Equalities Office and EHRC)
  • 2008-2009 Author of Submissions to Taskforce on Social Work and Select Committee on Children and Families on behalf of the Association of Professors of Social Work as a result of the death of Peter Connolly
  • 2011 Member of Expert Advisory Group on Training, Research and Practice, Health Services Executive (HSE), (then the main Irish government body for overseeing social work) Ireland
  • 2011 Adviser on parenting strategy document, HSE, Ireland
  • 2012 Expert Advisor Barnardos, Ireland
  • 2012-2013 Member of Centre for Social Justice Working Group on family breakdown
  • 2014 Member of Family Rights Group Law and Practice Reference group
  • 2015 Member of Your Family Your Voice advisory group

Selected invited and keynote presentations

  • Promoting humane organizations, Institute of Health and Social Welfare, Helsinki, November, 2015
  • Supporting the ethic of care in families, Santiago, Chile, 29 May 2014
  • Supporting resilience in child protection social work, Annual conference of Icelandic child protection social workers, Iceland, 28 March 2014
  • Human factors in child protection systems, Master class at European society for Prevention of child abuse and neglect, Dublin, Ireland, 15 September 2013
  • Research in social work, Faculty of Social Work, Universtad Complutense, Madrid, 12 December 2013
  • Child protection and inequality, Segovia, Spain, 11 December 2013
  • Re-imagining child protection, public lecture, University of Malta, 20 November 2013

Research Degree Supervision

Areas of interest

  • Fathers
  • Family support
  • Reforming child protection

Recent supervisions

Selected topics that I have supervised in recent years:

  • Masculinities and the paedophile: discursive strategies in Irish newspapers
  • Pregnant asylum seekers: a critical discourse analysis of midwifery training
  • Child-parent abuse: conceptual and methodological issues
  • Openness in international adoption
  • Street children in Zimbabwe

Postgraduate research opportunities with Professor Brid Featherstone

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Associate Director of Centre for Applied Childhood, Youth and Family Research
  • Lead for UOA22 REF 2021