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Dr. Louise Caffrey

Assistant Professor in Social Policy (Social Studies)


Louise is an Assistant Professor in Social Policy in the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin. She holds a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she was awarded an LSE PhD Scholarship to undertake her research. Louise also holds a Full Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Teaching (PGCHE) from the LSE, an MSc in Applied Social Research from Trinity College Dublin and a BA (International) in Political Science and History from University College Dublin (UCD). Immediately prior to joining Trinity College Louise worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Division of Health and Social Care, King's College London, and prior to entering academia she worked as a research consultant, delivering numerous reports for government and NGO clients in Ireland and the UK. Louise is Director of the (online) PGDip in Social Policy & Practice where she also teaches 'Contemporary Social Policy Debates & Analysis'. She teaches 'Evaluation Research' on the MSc in Applied Social Research and 'Critical Analysis & Argument Development' on the BA Sociology & Social Policy & BA Social Studies. Externally, Louise (with Dr. Edurne Garcia Iriarte) has designed a evaluation methods teaching module for United Nations staff.
 An exploration of children and young people's experiences of child protection and welfare services in Tusla Child and Family Agency
 Realist Synthesis of Signs of Safety
 Knowledge for Use (K4U)
 RESTORE (Towards Dynamic Resilience in Health System Performance and Reform )
 United Nations Module Design: Evaluation methods

Details Date
Louise is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Authority. Further information at: Since 2013
Louise is an Associate on the K4U Horizon 2020 Study, led by Prof. Nancy Cartwright at Durham University. K4U's aim is to construct a radically new picture of how to use social science to build better policies. Further information: . March 2016 to present
UNICEF Reference Group for Review of Child Protection Systems in Four Countries in South Asia. I am providing guidance to the project on the use of a systems approach. February 2017 to November 2017
Caffrey, Louise, Browne, Freda , Understanding the social worker-family relationship through Self Determination Theory: A Realist Synthesis of Signs of Safety, Child & Family Social Work, 27, 2022, p513 - 525, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
How do we Know if Signs of Safety is Improving Children's Safety and Well Being? in, editor(s)Andrew Turnell, Terry Murphy , Signs of Safety: Comprehensive Briefing Paper , East Perth, Elia , 2021, pp10 - 22, [Louise Caffrey, Mike Caslor, Eileen Munro], Book Chapter, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text
Padraic Fleming, Louise Caffrey, David Mockler, Steve Thomas, 'A realist review to determine how health system austerity responses to the 2008 financial crisis impacted health system resilience for subsequent shocks - why, when, for whom and under what circumstances', 2021, -, Protocol or guideline, PUBLISHED  URL
O'Reilly, C., Caffrey, L. & Jagoe, C., Disability data collection in a complex humanitarian organisation: Lessons from a realist evaluation, International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Elaine McKimmons, Louise Caffrey, Discourse and Power in Ireland's Repeal the 8th Movement , Interface, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Caffrey, Louise, Book Review: Errors and Mistakes in Child Protection: International Discourses, Approaches and Strategies by Kay Biesel, Judith Masson, Nigel Parton and Tarja Poso, Critical Social Policy , 42, (2), 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Caffrey, Louise, How everyone's business can become no one's business: a systems study of interprofessional referral to child contact centres , Journal of Children & Youth Services Review , 109, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL
Louise Caffrey, We're dragging our heels but there is enough evidence to support making facemasks mandatory, 2020, -, Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL
Louise Caffrey, Evaluating Signs of Safety in Ireland: How to best evaluate a whole-systems, nationwide, complex intervention in a complex system? , Evidence Amalgamation, University College Cork, 10/05/2019, 2019, Oral Presentation, PUBLISHED
Caffrey, Louise, Ferlie, Ewan, McKevitt, Christopher, The strange resilience of new public management: the case of medical research in the UK's national health service, Public Management Review, 2018, p1-22 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI

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Award Date
UCD Entrance Scholarship 2002
LSE PhD Scholarship 2010-2014
Much of Louise's recent research stems from a core interest in the challenges of implementing public policy in organisations. Her research has sought to better understand, firstly why implementing policy is so challenging and, secondly, how we can better evaluate public policy initiatives and programmes so that evaluation findings are more useful for policy makers. Louise specialises in understanding public sector organisations as Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and using Systems and Realist Evaluation & Synthesis approaches. Her research has studied policy implementation in both child protection and health systems and explores overarching themes of system safety, inter-professional working and intended and unintended effects of performance management and measurement. She studies the implementation of specific programmes and initiatives including, Signs of Safety (a framework for child protection social work practice) and Athena SWAN (a gender equity initiative) and policy goals, including the creation of Health Research Systems, safety and child engagement in child contact centres and welfare-to-work policy for lone parents. Louise welcomes applications from PhD students in the following areas: Signs of Safety, Athena SWAN & other gender equity programmes, Policy implementation and system safety in child protection and health systems, Systems approaches to policy implementation, Realist evaluation and Realist Synthesis approaches, Use of Complexity Theory to understanding policy implementation or evaluation Current PhD student: Claire O'Reilly. Working title: Disability Inclusive, Humanitarian Food Programming: What works, for whom, and in what contexts? (Realist Evaluation). Co-supervised with Dr. Caroline Jagoe, Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies