Research and evaluation of children's services

The Coram Impact and Evaluation team works with public sector, commercial and third-sector organisations as well as children, parents and academics to evaluate services for families and children and help improve them.

Our specialist Impact and Evaluation team has a wide range of expertise in a variety of research methods. We bring decades of research experience covering all aspects of childhood and children’s service. We run a mix of small and large projects which help organisations deliver the best possible outcomes for children.

How we can help you

Our team of experts in qualitative, quantitative and participatory research are skilled in working with children, young people, parents and carers, and professionals to help organisations that deliver children’s services see what’s working.

Our high-quality research has been used to:

  • develop support, training and guidance for adopters and kinship carers
  • help improve provision of statutory services for disabled children and their families
  • develop new national policies and guidance to support children who are excluded from school
  • understand the first-hand experiences of children who are less represented in research and policy

Why choose us?

We are rooted in an organisation with a long history of providing diverse services for children and families to access a wide variety of social workers, therapists, lawyers, experts in fostering and adoption, and other specialist colleagues.

We are uniquely placed to combine the voices of young people and professionals with rigorous research and evaluation techniques. By working with us, you will be contributing to improving the lives of thousands of vulnerable children and young people every year.

Our friendly and knowledgeable team is here to discuss and help develop your research project. Contact us at or on 020 7520 0316.

Find out more about our team using the dropdowns at the bottom of the page.

Highlight projects

Supporting Families Systemic Practice Model Pilot Study

Coram has been commissioned to lead the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and Department for Education (DfE) Supporting Families Programme Systemic Practice Pilot Study. A consortium led by Coram and the Institute of Family Therapy (IFT) will deliver a trial of systemically informed keyworker practice in six local authorities until the end of 2025.

An evaluation of the EXODUS mentoring programme

Coram is evaluating a 12-month mentoring programme for young people aged 11 to 17 years who are at risk of offending called EXODUS. We are using a randomised controlled trial – this means young people will be randomly offered EXODUS or support as usual. We want to find out if EXODUS reduces the offending for young people. EXODUS is delivered by UpskillU. The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) fund the project and evaluation.

There are 3 referral partners to the programme: Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service and Police, Haringey Council and Oakhill Secure Training Centre. In the first phase up to January 2025, we will assess the readiness of the mentoring programme for a full trial. If the trial is feasible, then this will run until July 2028. A full research protocol will be published on the YEF’s website.

For young people

If you are a young person who has been referred to the trial, please see our data privacy notice for more information about how your data is used for the research.

Our team

Max Stanford - Head of Impact and Evaluation

Max Stanford joined Coram in March 2023 as Head of Impact and Evaluation. He previously worked for the Early Intervention Foundation including as Acting Assistant Director of Evidence where he oversaw a large portfolio of research and evaluation including on children’s social care, family support, parental relationships, family hubs and early years. He previously worked for the Department for Education, as head of their early years research and evaluation, as well as at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, and Blackpool Better Start. Max has also worked for a number of charities including Barnardo’s and Toynbee Hall and was chair of trustees of a local children’s charity in Pimlico for four years. He holds a PGDip from the Institute of Education and an MPhil from the University of Oxford.

Hannah Lawrence - Research Manager

Hannah is a qualitative social researcher in the children and young people’s sector. Hannah has used qualitative and mixed method research and evaluation to better understand complex interventions in children’s social care. Hannah has extensive experience of primary qualitative research with adoptive parents, foster carers, care experienced children and young people, and children’s social care and mental health practitioners. Hannah has studied the parenting experiences of special guardians and kinship carers, practical and policy issues relating to siblings waiting for adoption in England and children with special educational needs or disabilities and their families’ experiences of accessing statutory assessments for support. Hannah holds an MSc in Social Policy and Social Research from University College London.

Catherine Harris - Research Manager

Catherine Harris joined Coram in November 2023, bringing over 10 years’ experience of research in higher education. She previously worked at the University of Sheffield and the University of Birmingham, amongst other institutions. She is experienced in project management, evaluation and all stages of the mixed method research process. She specialises in qualitative research, particularly through participatory research and creative methodologies. Her interdisciplinary research is grounded in sociology with a focus on community engagement and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalised communities, largely working in ethnically diverse communities and with children. She is passionate about giving a voice to all in the research process and is experienced in designing and leading peer researcher programs. Catherine holds a BA in Geography from the University of Oxford, a MA in International Studies from the University of Birmingham and a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Birmingham.

Emily Blackshaw - Lead Quantitative Analyst

Emily is an experienced mixed methods researcher, specialising in quantitative methods. Emily leads on quantitative data analysis across a portfolio of internal and external projects at Coram, such as our large multi-site RCT of family group conferencing at pre-proceedings.

Emily has a particular interest in youth mental health and social-materialist models of distress, which she developed during her time working in the Business Development Team at Mind, her PhD on measurement in youth mental health, and her time as a researcher at King’s College London.

Emily’s research publications include contributions to Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Health Services and Delivery Research.

Lizzie Gilbert - Senior Sessional Research and Evaluation Officer

At Coram, Lizzie has led both quantitative and qualitative projects. She has carried out evaluations of internal services and research for external studies exploring experiences of children, young people, parents, carers, and professionals.

Lizzie has an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS University of London. While completing her MSc, she undertook a research internship for a social enterprise. She previously worked with young people and families in a local authority housing department and as a Helpline Advisor for a charity.

Narendra Bhalla - Senior Quantitative Researcher

Narendra is a Senior Quantitative Researcher with a background in International Development. He has experience (with a quantitative focus) working on mixed-method evaluations in South Asia and Africa in Sanitation, Urban Development and Education among other sectors (funded by Indian government departments – State and Central, UNICEF, BBC Media Action, BMGF, Met Office, GIZ, USAID & others).

At Coram, he is working primarily on quantitative aspects of internally and externally commissioned research projects (including impact studies) through inception, design, delivery and dissemination. He holds an MSc. from the London School of Economics in Operations Research & Analytics, completing a summer project with the NHS in Lewisham, evaluating relevance and impact of an existing service to reduce referrals into secondary care.

Sibilla Robutti - Researcher

Sibilla joined Coram in 2022. She is an experienced social researcher who specialises in working with children, young people and their families. She is passionate about using research and evaluation to create services that matter to them. Sibilla has worked both in the public and voluntary sectors. At Coram she designs and delivers commissioned research and evaluation projects with a focus on qualitative approaches. Sibilla holds a MRes Anthropological Research Methods from SOAS University of London. She has a keen interest in psychological wellbeing and therapeutic approaches and in parallel to her research work engages in frontline practice as a counsellor. She is currently completing a MA Psychotherapy & Counselling at Regent’s University London.

Sam Shorto - Senior Quantitative Researcher (Early Years)

Sam is a mixed methods researcher, specialising in quantitative methods. Sam has been involved in a number of qualitative and quantitative projects as a consultant for Coram, including primary data analysis on the Childcare and Holiday Childcare surveys, Childcare Sufficiency Assessments for local authorities, and ad-hoc research into issues such as reasons for childminders in London leaving their profession.

Sam has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Southampton, for which he analysed the demographic factors that facilitate or hinder the success of small parties in local elections in England. He also holds an MSc in Social Research Methods, an MA in International Security, and a BSc in Politics and International Relations. He previously worked for the Family and Childcare Trust (before their incorporation into Coram), for a local government think tank, in the marketing department of a Premiership football club, and most recently, as an instructor and route-setter at a rock climbing gym.

Richard Ollerearnshaw - Research and Evaluation Officer

Richard has worked extensively in monitoring and evaluation in the voluntary sector, as well as in policy research. He is an experienced mixed methods researcher, specialising in quantitative methods. He has supported numerous children and young people’s charities to evaluate their work, including developing Theories of Change and outcomes frameworks. In previous roles he managed research tracking changes in public attitudes to social issues over time, and worked with the Greater London Authority and debt advice providers to analyse patterns of personal financial debt in London. Richard also taught Science in state secondary schools for several years; he completed a master’s in Educational Leadership at the University of Warwick including a research study into school culture and staff development.

Mariya Sethwala - Research and Evaluation Officer

Mariya joined Coram in March 2024 as a Research and Evaluation Officer. At Coram, she works on projects related to wraparound and early years childcare. She has a background in public policy and has previously worked as a consultant on issues relating to juvenile justice, urban governance, educational access and early years nutrition with governments in South Asia.  She has also worked to create avenues for female political agency in rural India. She has an MSc in International Social and Public policy from London School of Economics where she was awarded the Titmuss Performance Prize and the Loch Exhibition Award for research on marginalized communities. She is passionate about reimagining research and policy to centre the voice and agency of the communities she hopes to serve.

Mia Johnson - Research Officer

Mia joins Coram from the NSPCC, where she assisted research and evaluation projects on child protection, safeguarding, children’s rights and policy. She is a mixed methods researcher with a focus on child poverty, participation and lived experience. Previously, Mia worked at the Knowledge Quarter, a knowledge and research exchange organisation. She has experience supporting policy development and delivery, as well as programming and events production.

Mia holds a short course qualification in Civic and Co-design methods from University College London (UCL), a bachelors in English Literature and Human Rights from the University of Sussex, and a diploma in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL). She is a member of London’s child poverty network.

Alice Coombes – Research Coordinator

Alice joined Coram in April 2024, and supports the team with project management and coordination. Alice previously worked at Age International, and has had various fundraising and partnership roles in the third sector. She is now looking to pursue a career in research.

Alice holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology & Sociology from Aston University. During this time, she undertook a Research Assistant placement year for the University of Birmingham’s Comparative Cognition Research Group, a lab exploring spontaneous tool-use abilities of human children and great apes. Alice is now studying a part-time MSc in Global Public Health at Queen Mary University of London, with a particular interest in heteronormative healthcare spaces and reproductive rights. She is also a member of the Royal Society for Public Health and the Royal Institution.

Amaka Udeagbaja - Research Assistant

Amaka previously worked as a Partnership Manager at Bounceback Food, a charity focused on food poverty reduction, and as a tutor at Explore Learning. She has a volunteer background in universal food advocacy for school aged children, mental health and educational inequality.

Amaka has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychological and Behavioural Studies from the University Of Cambridge, writing her dissertation on investigating the extent to which race moderates cultural and social threat felt by young liberals.

Daniel Stern - Research Assistant

Daniel provides research and administrative support to the team. He has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research. Daniel has a DPhil in Environmental Justice and Post-Politics from the University of Durham, and an MSc in Social Science Research Methods. Immediately before joining Coram, Daniel taught children to row in East London.