Peer Parental Advocacy aims to support parents who are engaged with the child protection process, through advice and advocacy. Part of this is helping them play a meaningful role in decision making about their children. This study will be a mixed-method pilot evaluation of PPA in child protection, in one local authority, the London Borough of Camden.


This study is a pilot evaluation of peer parental advocacy (PPA) in child protection. Peer parental advocates are parents who have lived experience of the child protection process and work with other parents who are currently involved in the process PPAs have undertaken training and supervision to help them deliver this role. PPA aims to support parents who are engaged with the child protection process, through advice and advocacy, and helps them play a meaningful role in decision making about their children. 

The study will take place in Camden Council’s children’s services department, where the use of PPA was recently highlighted by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care (IRCSC; 2021) as an example of innovative practice. The study will involve parents, peer parental advocates and social workers to understand to understand how PPA works, and ways in which it may help parents to participate in meaningful decision making.

The overarching aim of this project is to understand the role of PPA in Child Protection practice and how it is perceived by staff and families to affect child protection practice and, in particular, decision-making processes. The following research questions are designed to address this: 

1) What are the key ingredients of the PPA service in Camden? 

2) What are parents’ and professionals’ experiences of the PPA service? 

3) What potential impacts (both positive and negative changes) do parents and professionals who work with PPAs identify? 4) Is it feasible to carry out an experimental or quasi-experimental evaluation of PPA in the future and if so, what would the key considerations for designing such a study be? (e.g., what are the outcomes of interest? How clearly defined is the intervention?)

Activities and Methods

The study will be a mixed-method realist evaluation. We will use qualitative interviews, observations of child welfare meetings and analysis of key administrative data to answer the research question. We will co-produce a programme theory with parents, parent advocates, social workers and stakeholders about what works to ensure effective implementation of the project. In line with the realist approach, we will explore implementation in terms of which people benefit, which people and under which circumstances. This theory will help us gain an understanding of some of the critical contextual factors that enable or block desired outcomes and which key aspects of local setting need to be addressed to create a facilitative context for an effective parental advocacy service.


This project is complete. We have written the final report, due to be published on the What Works for Children’s Social Care website in early 2023. Two papers based on the narrative review and final programme theory have been submitted to peer review journals.

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorClive Diaz

Academic Staff

Research FellowDavid Westlake
Research AssistantLily Evans
Research AssistantSammi Fitz-Symonds
Related SchoolsSchool of Social Sciences, CASCADE
Related partnersCamden Children’s Services 
FundersWhat Works for Children’s Social Care 
Related documentsWhat Works for Children’s Social Care – Research Protocol