Emeritus Professor Jan Horwath

BA Hons, CQSW (Bradford) DLit (Sheffield)

Department of Sociological Studies

Emeritus Professor of Child Welfare

Professor Jan Horwath
Profile picture of Professor Jan Horwath

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Emeritus Professor Jan Horwath
Department of Sociological Studies
Elmfield Building
Northumberland Road
S10 2TU

Jan Horwath is Emeritus Professor of Child Welfare in the Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield. She joined the University of Sheffield in 1995 holding positions including Head of Social Work, Director of Research and Head of Department. Previously, she worked for the Department of Health Child Abuse Training Unit. Jan has a social work practice background, focussing on child protection. She has worked as a practitioner, trainer and manager in a range of voluntary and statutory social work settings in England and New Zealand.

Jan has specialised in applied research into child protection practice and management. Findings from her studies have into neglect and assessment practice have underpinned assessment frameworks in England, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Ukraine, the Republic of Ireland and South Africa. Her research into child protection systems has informed the management of multidisciplinary partnerships in the UK, Australia and the Republic of Ireland. 

Since Jan became an Emeritus Professor in 2015 her research and writing has focused on child neglect and ensuring the lived experience of the child is central to safeguarding management and practice. This includes an innovative systemic approach to practice from early support through to edge of care - Supporting Families Enhancing Futures (SFEF) https://www.wirralsafeguarding.co.uk/professionals/supporting-families-enhancing-futures/ and the development of the All Wales Adult and Child Safeguarding Procedures available electronically and as an app. (https://www.safeguarding.wales/)

Research interests
  • The management of child welfare systems
  • The challenges of establishing and managing interagency partnerships, such as Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • Developing systems and practice for assessing the needs of vulnerable children
  • Identifying and working with cases of child neglect
  • Multidisciplinary training and professional development
  • The role of the front-line manager in social work and caring professions
  • The influence of religious beliefs on parenting

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Date Sponsor Details
2014 Kingston NHS Trust Fabricated and induced illness in children in 2014
2013-2014 Halton SCB, Cheshire West & Chester SCB and Telford & Wreckin SCB Making a difference to the child's lived experience
2013-2014 Welsh Local Government Association & Association of Directors of Social Services Transforming governance into collective action to safeguard children: developing a shared knowledge base
2011-2012 Caerphilly Safeguarding Children Board Child protection planning in cases of chronic neglect
2010-2011 The Welsh Assembly Planning & Interventions in Cases of Chronic Child Neglect in Wales: a literature review
2009-2011 Daphne III Programme European Commission You Respond: Developing a Good practice guide and training manual for young people’s participation in research, policy and practice developments to prevent violence
2009-2010 Department for Children, Schools and Families Analysis of current assessment practice and based on findings development of Training Pack to accompany the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families
2008-2009 South Yorkshire Social Care Agencies Consortium Developing high quality practice learning opportunities managed by long-arm practice assessors.
2006-2008 Joseph Rowntree Foundation Religious beliefs and parenting practices: a descriptive study
Additional study on identification of influence of religion on assessing children in need and their families
2006-2008 Department for Children, Schools and Families Evaluation of the Implementation of Child Death Review Teams by Local Safeguarding Children Boards in England
2002-2006 North East Health Board, The South East Health Board and The Western Area Health Board supported by the Irish Department for Health and Children An action research study designed to develop and pilot a national framework for the assessment of vulnerable children in the Republic of Ireland.
2002-2003 The North Eastern Health Board Ireland An investigative study of perceptions of child neglect amongst the police, health and education personnel working in the Republic of Ireland.
2001-2004 Department for International Development An evaluation of the effectiveness of changes in service delivery in residential units for vulnerable children and adults in Crimea
2001-2002 Lincolnshire Social Services Department What do children and family social work supervisors really do? A study of front-line practice
2000-2001 North Eastern Health Board, Ireland Managing cases of child neglect in the Republic of Ireland: perspectives of social work practitioners and their managers.
1999-2000 Department for International Development An action research study to establish the effectiveness of supervision training for front-line social welfare managers employed by the Ministry of Social Protection in Crimea.
1999-2000 Gateshead Metropolitan Council A study of management and staff support required for effective practice within children’s fieldwork services.
1997-1998 PHARE European Union Action research study to establish systems for practice teaching in the Czech Republic.
1996 University of Sheffield Research Fund An investigation of the perception of and response to abuse by employees working in residential children’s units.
1995-1996 National Children’s Bureau and Salford ACPC A national evaluation of the effectiveness of guidelines and procedures for post-registration child protection practice
Professional activities and memberships

Nationally and internationally, Jan is involved in the strategic development of policy and practice in respect of child welfare practice, social work and social care.

Her current professional activities draw on her research into the lived experience of the vulnerable child and their parent/carer. She has developed known as the Horwath Model, designed to assist practitioner assess this experience. Her Model underpins an innovative and, what is proving to be effective, systemic approach to practice. Supporting Families: Enhancing Futures. https://www.wirralsafeguarding.co.uk/professionals/supporting-families-enhancing-futures/.This approach, has been used by Wirral Safeguarding Partnership to underpin multidisciplinary practice from early help to edge of care.  Other statutory and third sector organisations have used the approach to inform areas of practice for example: assessment (NSPCC and Child Line) edge of care (Family Action) and planning interventions (Telford and Wrekin). Outcomes are measured in terms of demonstrable improvements to the lived experience of the child/ren.

‘We can move beyond statistics [such as number of school absences] to considering the impact on the child’.
‘It does make you think – we’re so focused on the child sometimes we miss what adults are thinking and don’t link the two’.

The Horwath Model underpins the All Wales Safeguarding Procedures for Children and Adults at Risk of Abuse and Neglect 2019. Jan was commissioned to prepare the drafts for the procedures. The Procedures mark an innovative advancement to applying legislation to practice as they:

  • involved input from frontline practitioners in a diverse range of settings
  • ensures both the lived experience of the child and the adult at risk of abuse and neglect is central to assessment decision-making and interventions
  • are available as a downloadable app ensuring the Procedures are immediately accessible when a practitioner is in the community
  • include prompts for practice providing staff with immediate advice not only in terms of what they must do but also how to do it.

Other professional interests:

  • Jan works with government departments in the UK and internationally to develop child welfare policy and practice.
  • Jan routinely acts as advisor to Government departments, statutory child protection agencies and NGOs in Europe and Australia regarding the development of child protection policy and practice.
  • Jan acts as a consultant to safeguarding partnerships/local safeguarding children boards and local authorities in the UK on the strategic management of change to safeguarding management, policies and practice.
  • Through work funded by the European Union and The Department for International Development (DFID) in Ukraine and Czech Republic, Jan worked with government representatives to plan, implement, and review collaborative developments in social care.
  • Jan established with colleagues at the University of Nottingham and the NSPCC PIAT (Promoting Inter-Agency Training)- a national professional organisation for those engaged in multi-disciplinary childcare training. Following the demise of PIAT she established with colleagues (TSM) Training Still Matters which provides support and guidance to safeguarding trainers and their managers
  • Jan served the British Association for the Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (BAPSCAN) national executive and was chair of the conference and international relations committee. This involved organising multi-disciplinary conferences and a tri-annual international congress.
  • Jan was a Trustee for the Lullaby Trust (previously the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death) from 2009-2015.