The National Youth Advocacy Service Cymru (NYAS) has been working with Caerphilly since April 2017 to provide advocates for parents. In 2020 NYAS was awarded funding by the Welsh Government to provide advocacy services across Gwent. We are seeking to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the service. This will provide us with a clear understanding of how the Parent Advocacy Programme (PAP) supports parents and families across Gwent and how it is implemented in different local authorities. This will form an important addition to this research base as there is little evidence surrounding this topic carried out in the United Kingdom. 


The aim of the PAP is to support parents so their voices are heard and they are empowered to play a meaningful role in decision making alongside children’s social care and other key agencies. The aim of the project is also to try to reduce safely the numbers of children that come into care in Gwent. This is the first time that a parental advocacy project has been set up in the UK that has been properly funded by the Government. As a result, it is essential that robust research is carried out to ascertain whether it is effective in empowering parents and reducing the numbers of children on the Child Protection Register and in care in a safe and appropriate way. We aim to understand how PAP operates and impacts on parents’ ability to meaningfully participate in decision making.

Parents will play a key role in this study from the design all the way through to completion and dissemination. The study will look at 5 Local Authority areas in Gwent and consider the impact of PAP in these Local Authorities. 

The research will be guided by the following central research questions:

  • What are the key ingredients of the Parental Advocacy Project? How can they be described in a logic model? 
  • In what ways and under which circumstances does the Parent Advocacy Service support parents to play a more meaningful role in decision making when there are child welfare concerns?
  • What are parents’ and professionals’ experiences of the Parental Advocacy Project? 
  • While the Parent Advocacy Project is running, is there any reduction in the numbers of children on the Child Protection Register and those coming into care in the areas where it operates?

Activities and Methods

The research design is a mixed methods realist evaluation bringing together qualitative and quantitative data to answer the research questions. Realist approaches look at causes and outcome patterns in relation to contextual influences. The study will involve a combination of surveys, file analysis, observations of practice and one-to-one interviews involving parents and professionals.


This project is in progress. We are currently working on the final report, due to be completed in March 2023.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorDr Clive Diaz

Academic Staff

Academic Staff Dr Louise Roberts
Academic Staff Dr David Tobis
Research AssistantLilly Evans
Research AssistantSammi Fitz-Symonds
Related SchoolsSchool of Social Sciences
Related Partners Wales Centre for Public Policy, DECIPHer, SAIL Databank at Swansea University, Centre for Trials Research