Nuffield Foundation Children & Families Grant Programme


Status:Open to applications


Financial assistance is available to support work that looks to ensure that the legal and institutional framework is best adapted to meet the needs of children and families.


Maximum Value:£ 150,000
Minimum Value:£ 5,000
Minimum Employees:2

Value Notes

Grants range in size from £5,000 to £150,000.  The Foundation also considers larger grants but makes only a few each year.

Extended Description

The Children and Families Grant programme, which forms part of the Foundation's larger projects grant programme, aims to improve the legal and institutional framework to best suit the needs of children and families across the UK.

The scheme is interested in a wide range of topics which go beyond child protection in a narrow sense and in practical developments within this area as well as research based work.

Key Criteria

Non-profit organisations and other charitable groups based in the UK are eligible for funding under this scheme.

All applicants for funding must demonstrate that proposals are suited to the Foundation's requirements and could not be considered for funding from other sources such as other government bodies, or other more appropriate charities.

Eligible Expenditure

The Foundation is interested in supporting research in the following areas:

Child Welfare and Development

  • Exploration of the factors affecting children’s welfare and cognitive and social development, and the institutional responses that may be appropriate.
  • Child development beyond the early years through to adolescence,particularly adolescent mental health and social and behavioural development, and the factors promoting or delaying successful transitions from formal education to work and productive adult life.
  • Family structures and approaches to parenting – including parental working patterns – and the implications of these for family life and children’s wellbeing. This includes the formation of new family types, the contribution of inter-parental relationships, the different roles played by biological and social parents, kinship care, and the well-being of children growing up in adverse family conditions. The Foundation are particularly interested in the factors that contribute to effective parenting and the outcomes of children who experience different types of parenting.
  • Partnership formation and dissolution and the consequences for childhood outcomes, for example the impact on family resources or the arrangements for child maintenance and parenting. The Foundation are particularly keen to ensure there is better information about the contribution that fathers and other co-parents make to parenting, given that they are missing from, or under-represented in, most of the relevant surveys (such as Understanding Society and the birth cohort studies).

Early Years Education and Childcare

  • The quality and cost of childcare provision and the way childcare is best assessed and delivered; the relationship between childcare quality and deprivation; and the role of informal childcare.
  • Development and testing of emerging approaches to improve child outcomes, such as parenting programmes, literacy programmes and approaches to enhance early language development. The Foundation are also interested in the impact of take-up of nursery provision on later outcomes.
  • The application of emerging (social) science evidence to improve on the design of programmes for very young children (aged 1-3). The Foundation want to know whether it is possible to better combine the learning from educational research (e.g. on very early oral language, literacy and numeracy skills development) and social developmental research (e.g. on behaviour management and approaches to ‘self control’) to inform the design and delivery of new programmes to improve child outcomes.
  • Better understanding of why the costs of childcare have risen, and how far this relates only to the price parents pay, or also reflects underlying cost drivers? The Foundation are also interested in international comparisons on the balance of state and private funding, and the operation and regulations of childcare markets.
  • Empirical work to identify which mechanisms (such as quality assessment/inspection regimes, qualifications, curricula, interventions) are most effective in improving quality in the early years workforce;and how these mechanisms are best and most cost-effectively combined for each age group.
  • The extent to which social segregation in early years provision may reinforce social and economic inequalities; and whether more can be done to improve access to, take-up of, and parental engagement with early years education by the most disadvantaged groups in society.

Child Protection

  • Exploration of issues relating to the child protection system, including adoption, fostering and kinship care. The Foundation want to know how well the needs of children growing up in adverse conditions are met by the social services designed to help them, and to identify areas for improvement to protection and placement services for adoption and fostering.
  • Better understanding of the underlying drivers (social, structural and institutional) which affect the numbers of children in, and on the margins, of the looked-after system.
  • The quality and role of scientific evidence in the practice of children’s social work and opportunities for intervention to improve the use of evidence.
  • The operation and design of the wider system, including the configuration of children’s services; the quality and professional development of the children’s services workforce; and how effective interventions can become embedded or scaled up.


The following will not be considered for funding by the Foundation:

  • Animal rights or welfare.
  • The Arts.
  • Conservation, heritage or environmental projects.
  • Housing.
  • Medical research.
  • Museums.
  • Religion.
  • Sports and recreation.
  • Running costs or continuing provision of a service.
  • Capital or building costs.
  • Funding of or attendance at conferences.
  • Establishment of Chairs or any other permanent academic posts.
  • School fees, university courses or gap year projects.
  • Projects that could be considered by a government department, Research Council or more appropriate charity.
  • Personal appeals for financial help.
  • Individuals.

Grants are not made for the following purposes, except when the activity is part of a project that is otherwise acceptable:

  • Work for degrees or other qualifications.
  • Organisation of conferences or seminars.
  • Production of films, videos or television programmes.
  • Purchase of equipment, including computers.

Under the Law in Society theme, replacement of core funding of existing services (such as law centres) will not be considered.

Application Process      

An outline proposal of no more than three sides of A4 must be submitted to the Foundation for consideration by the Trustees who will decide whether the project is suitable for a full application. 

Outlines should describe: 

  • The issue or problem you wish to address.
  • The expected outcome(s).
  • How the aims will be achieved.
  • (For research projects) an outline of the methods involved.
  • An outline of the budget and timeline for the project. 

Full applications should not exceed 10 sides of A4 and should cover the following areas: 

  • Background to the project.
  • Outcomes.
  • Methods.
  • Ethical aspects.
  • Evaluation.
  • Communicating outcomes.

Contact the Nuffield Foundation for further information.

Address & Contacts :

Application forms may be available to download on the funding body’s own website.

Contact details:
Contact details:
Alison Rees
The Nuffield Foundation
28 Bedford Square