• Room 01.022 - Sociology and Social Work

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Adoption, kinship care, leaving care - Parenting capacity


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

 My career as a social work practitioner and academic has focused on the needs and rights of children, young people and their families experiencing adversity. I worked for eleven years as a social worker and senior social worker in statutory child welfare practice, with expertise in child protection, family support, foster care, adoption and permanence planning. Since employment in 2010 as a social work lecturer, I have continued to develop teaching and research that is focused on dedicated to children and young people in state care and adopted from care, and to supporting the families of children in need.

I am involved in research in relation to parenting, family support, children in alternative care, and the experience of family life in foster care, kinship foster care and adoption, with expertise in interpretative qualitative research methods. I work alongside social workers and child welfare agencies to translate research into innovative practice solutions to benefit children and families. I am especially interested in children’s experiences of alternative care internationally and am involved in research partnerships in South Africa and Australia.

I am a Fellow of the Centre for Effectiveness and Social Innovation at. I contribute to ongoing knowledge exchange between the research and child welfare practice communities, on a national and European level, as a core member of: EuroFam-Net, the Pan-European Family Support Research Network; the NI Inter-Agency Child Care Legal Issues Group; the advisory group of Adoption UK (NI), and the CoramBAAF research group advisory committee.

I co-ordinate the social work with children and families module for the Bachelor in Social Work programme, and the enhancing outcomes for children in state care module on the Masters in Applied Social Studies.

I supervise a number of PhD students and welcome proposals in relation to child welfare, adoption, kinship foster care, family life, or parenting.



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Research Output


Finalist in NI Annual Social Work Awards

Mandi MacDonald (Recipient), 01 Jun 2018

Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


Mentoring For Youth Living In and Leaving Alternative Care International Symposium

Mandi MacDonald (Organiser), John Pinkerton (Speaker), Berni Kelly (Speaker)
26 Feb 2020

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited or keynote talk at national or international conference

International Foster Care Conference "Close ties: relations at the heart of child and family wellness"

Berni Kelly (Speaker), Mandi MacDonald (Speaker)
25 Jun 202028 Jun 2020

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Research Huddle - Trauma-informed practices for children out of home care; University of Sydney

Mandi MacDonald (Keynote speaker)
24 Oct 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar

Kings College, London, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, Seminar series

Mandi MacDonald (Keynote speaker), Lorna Montgomery (Keynote speaker)
26 Feb 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


University of Sydney Masterclass - Assessing and Enhancing Parenting Capacity

Mandi MacDonald (Invited speaker)
23 Oct 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic lecture/debate/seminar



Building Better Futures

Lorna Montgomery (Participant), Mandi MacDonald (Participant), Stan Houston (Participant)

Impact: Public Service Impact, Public Policy Impact, Quality of Life Impact