Jo Dixon

Miss Jo Dixon
Research Fellow & Co-Director of the Child Welfare Research Group
  • +44 (0) 1904 321275
  • Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD

Visit Jo Dixon's profile on the York Research Database to see publications, projects, collaborators, related work and more.

I have been carrying out research with young people in and leaving care since joining the University of York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work in 2000, first with the Social Work Research and Development Unit (SWRDU) and later SPRU. Prior to that, I worked on studies of vulnerable families, including a Wellcome Trust trial of depression in mothers (Department of Psychiatry, University of Manchester) and a Department of Health (DoH) study on step-families (Thomas Coram Research Unit, University of London). I specialise in research on young people's transitions from care to independent adulthood; however, my research interests include vulnerable children and young people in care and on the edge of care, and innovative policy and practice approaches to supporting them. This includes government-funded research on the experiences and outcomes for young people leaving care in Scotland and in England and evaluations of new interventions and policies aimed at improving outcomes and experiences for young people in contact with children's social care. I have completed studies of preventative services for young people on the edge of care (using residential short-stays); the implementation of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs); the national evaluation of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, and for the past four years, I have been Principal Investigator on several evaluations of new interventions introduced under the DfE's (Department for Education) Children's Social Care Innovation Programme. 

During 2010-2014, I was seconded to the young people's charity Catch22 National Care Advisory Service, as research manager leading Catch22's peer research studies. This included a Big Lottery funded study of Corporate Parenting for young people in and from care and involved delivering research training and support to over 40 care experienced young people to carry out peer research interviews, analysis and dissemination. 

I have experience of using qualitative and quantitative research methods, including Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) and peer research approaches. I am committed to strengthening the links between research and practice by working directly with young people and practitioners through co-production and dissemination of findings and I have been involved in setting-up training schemes and internships for care-experienced young people.  

Jo is the Co-Director of the Child Welfare Research Group, in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, at the University of York.


  • MA, University of York (Social Policy)

Current / recently completed research

Care Leavers' Transition into the Labour Market in England

March 2019 - August 2020

Using linked national datasets and interviews with stakeholders, this research explores factors and trajectories contributing to employability for care leavers. 

Break - Staying Close, Staying Connected Project

May 2018 - March 2020

An evaluation of a pilot project to test 'staying close' approaches for young people leaving residential care in England. 

The House Project 2

April 2018 - April 2020

A two-year evaluation across five Local Authorities, looking at how young people are supported in their transition to independence from care.

Bradford B Positive Pathways Evaluation

March 2017 - March 2020

An evaluation of the B Positive Pathways project, which aims to provide innovative support to young people in and on the edges of care and their carers via fostering hubs and a multi-agency residential hub.

Evaluation of the Aspiration Project
(Staying Close pilot)

May 2018 - March 2020


Evaluation of the Fair Ways Project
(Staying Close pilot)

May 2018 - March 2020


Completed research

Brighter Futures for Care Leavers

June 2017 - November 2018

A consultation on outcomes and aftercare for young people leaving care in Ireland (funded by Focus Ireland).

Children Looked After Mental Health Project

May 2017 - December 2018

Using co-production to develop a training package for frontline workers (funded by ESRC).

York Cares Bright Futures

September 2016 - November 2017

Supporting young people from care into employment (funded by ESRC).

Evaluation of the New Belongings Project

June 2015 - June 2016

An evaluation of the Care Leavers Foundation's New Belongings project, running in 28 local authorities to improve support and outcomes for young people leaving care.

The Right Home Evaluation

June 2015 - March 2017

The implementation and outcomes of a new accommodation and support project for young people in and at risk of entering care or becoming homeless (funded by Calderdale Council).  

The House Project

June 2015 - March 2017

An innovative approach to addressing the housing needs of care leavers (funded by Stoke-on-Trent Council). 

The Step Change Evaluation

May 2015 - March 2016

Exploring the implementation and impact of social care interventions for young people in and on the edge of care across three London Boroughs (funded by Action for Children). 

Siblings Together

2013 - December 2016

Providing opportunities for planned, enjoyable, creative and high quality sibling contact for children living in different care arrangements (Rees Centre, University of Oxford).

From Care to Adulthood: A Collaborative Exploration of Young People's Transitions

October 2013 - January 2015


Corporate Parenting for Young People in Care: Making the Difference?

January 2011 - January 2014

A research collaboration between SPSW and Catch22's National Care Advisory Service to carry out a four year exploration of experiences and outcomes for young people in and leaving care within the context of corporate parenting. 

Implementation of Special Guardianship

July 2007 - February 2009


Young People on the Edge of Care: The Use of Respite Placements

2006 - 2007


Evaluation of the Treatment Foster Care Project

December 2004 - March 2010


Young People Leaving Care: A Study of Costs and Outcomes

2002 - 2004


A Study of Throughcare and Aftercare Services in Scotland

2000  - 2002


External roles