UK-Ireland INTRAC Research Network

The UK-Ireland INTRAC Research Network was established in July 2020 to bring together researchers in the field of leaving care from across the five jurisdictions: Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.


The aims of the UK-Ireland INTRAC Research Network are to:

  • Encourage interest in researching leaving care in each nation to develop the body of research in each area;
  • Strengthen existing relationships among care leaver researchers across Ireland and the UK to stimulate collaborative partnerships;
  • Identify care leaver researchers who are not INTRAC members to expand the network of academics in this field across Ireland and the UK and introduce them to INTRAC;
  • Maximise opportunities to explore the similarities and differences in leaving care policy and practice across the five jurisdictions across the UK-Ireland;
  • Establish core themes of interest within the care leaver research community which may lead to the establishment of thematic sub-groups;
  • Extend inter-disciplinary networks to facilitate exchange of knowledge and expertise across a range of disciplines with an interest in care leaving;
  • Identify strengths and gaps in existing research to inform a strategic approach to advancing leaving care research within and across the UK-Ireland;
  • Provide a forum to explore the challenges of conducting care leaver research in the UK-Ireland including issues relating to diverse methodologies, ethics and funding; and
  • Engage in and support collaborative publications and networking to support the development of collaborative grant applications.


Leads in each jurisdiction form membership of an Organising Committee that coordinates the network’s membership and activities. A doctoral student also sits on the committee to represent postgraduate students working on care leaver studies. The committee is currently chaired by Professor Berni Kelly and the leads for each area are:


Over the past year, the UK-Ireland INTRAC Research Network has hosted an online seminar series offering opportunities to focus on key themes relevant to leaving care and to share findings from research across UK-Ireland. These seminars addressed the following core themes:

  • Reviewing the UK Evidence on Care Leavers’ Views, with a key presentation by Dr Claire Baker (Research & Policy Consultant) held on 12 October 2020.
  • Young People Leaving Care and COVID 19 with presentations from Dr Louise Roberts (Cardiff University), Kenny McGhee (CELCIS, University of Strathclyde), Professor Berni Kelly (Queen’s University Belfast) & Dr Aoife O’Higgins (What Works for Children’s Social Care) held on 18 January 2021.                          
  • Extended care, with a key presentation by Professor Adrian van Breda (University of Johannesburg) and response from Professor Emily Munro (University of Bedfordshire) held on 21 April 2021.
  • Pathways to Higher Education with presentations from Dr Neil Harrison (University of Oxford) and Dr Katie Ellis (University of Sheffield) held on 10 June 2021.

The network will continue to host seminars in 2021-22 with potential themes including: participatory methods; use of big data, theorizing care-leaving and enhancing the impact of research on care leaving policy and practice. We hope that some members will be able to meet in person at a networking workshop in 2022 as public health restrictions are eased. There are also plans to hold a doctoral symposium in early 2022 to hear more about current doctoral studies on leaving care and to offer opportunities for PhD students to connect.

If you have an idea for a seminar event or would like an opportunity to chair a session or present on your research, please contact the Chair of the Organising Committee, Professor Berni Kelly, at:


The network is open to anyone in the UK or Ireland who is conducting research on care-leaving. This could be an active research project or current work on a proposal or publication on leaving care. The network is open to established/senior academics in the field but also to early career researchers and postgraduate or post-doctoral students. We encourage you to join Global INTRAC first, before becoming a member of the UK-Ireland INTRAC Research Network – click here to join INTRAC.

The network currently has 58 members with representation from across each of the five jurisdictions. Members are invited to attend the network’s seminars and events but are also encouraged to play an active role in the network’s activities including chairing seminars, contributing to idea for thematic events and presenting on their research.

If you would like to find out more or join the network please complete this membership form and email it to the relevant lead in your area (see contact details above).