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Making Scotland an ACE informed nation

Making Scotland an ACE informed nation

Continuing the conversation at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships



We have two events currently in the planning stage. Subscribe to the mailing list for information and booking details.

If there is a particular aspect of ACEs or resilience you would like to learn about, or you would like to share your own research or practice experience, please contact Dr Emma Davidson (e.c.davidson at to discuss.


Loving relationships in Scottish foster care

Monday 10 June 2019 • 12noon to 1.30pm

Nurturing, healthy relationships are one of the goals foster carers strive for when caring for children. ‘Love’ has become a widely used concept in relation to children’s needs and rights, as part of the care process and as an expected outcome of care. But how do key actors engaged in alternative care view ‘loving’ relations in foster care?

This seminar presents the results of a qualitative study conducted in cooperation with the Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection (CELCIS). The aim was to explore participants´ perceptionsof love in care settings, and the possibilities of attuning the emotional and professional aspects in foster carers´ work. Altogether 154 foster carers, care experienced young people and experts participated in the study via questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. The seminar will focus on reported perceptions and forms of love embedded in the broader context of foster care work, the factors that facilitate loving relationships in care to develop, and the barriers to loving relations in care.

This seminar was made possible by the support of the Slovak Research Agency VEGA, project no. 2/0027/17: “Traditional and alternative parenting in the 21st century: Motivation, dilemmas and consequences”.

Psychological and emotional abuse within the whole family

Wednesday 22nd May 2019

Judith M Brown PhD

Senior Social Worker and Family Therapist, NSW Health, Australia
Adjunct Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Australia

The deleterious effects of psychological and emotional abuse upon individuals are increasingly acknowledged by professionals and by the wider community. Yet, there has been little research on such forms of abuse in the whole family, even though those who abuse commonly use similar controlling practices within all family relationships.

This seminar will introduce findings from research on the experience and effect of psychological and emotional abuse upon the whole family, during and in the wake of such abuse. Four areas will be considered: family functioning, family relationships, the sense of family, and the capacity for non-abusive family members to talk together about their abuse. The implications of the research for professionals working with families who have experienced psychological and emotional abuse will be discussed.

Re-thinking resilience in the context of ACEs
Tuesday 21st May 2019, 9.30am-2.30pm

To date, we have held several seminars and posted blogs ( discussing the efficacy of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), the impact of the ACE agenda, and associated interventions aimed at fostering ‘resilience’ (either as form of prevention or early intervention / support). These seminars have disseminated findings from academic research and shared practitioner experiences and views. However, the format has not given sufficient space for deeper reflection on how ACE policy is shaping practice. To address this, we are hosting a World Café style event. This is a method used for supporting collaborative dialogue, and allows participants the opportunity to share their collective knowledge, experiences and learning.

We will begin with short presentations summarising the seminar and blog findings to date, and the experiences of those in practice. This will be followed by active, facilitated discussions using creative methods. These activities will support participants to think critically about ‘resilience’ – how we understand it, how we use it in our everyday practice and how we might begin to re-think it to support, enable or improve our practice. The event will conclude with explorations of collaborative next steps and scope for interested parties to networks and develop future projects.

The event is targeted at those working with, and for, children, young people and their families.

Adverse Childhood Experiences? Gendered dimensions and feminist perspectives – Professor Jane Callaghan

Tuesday 12th March 2019

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) model promotes a cumulative model of developmental trauma that suggests that the more ACES a child experiences, the more likely they are to experience negative health, mental health and educational outcomes.  In this seminar, Professor Jane Callaghan will explore the value inherent in this model (particularly in terms of popularising an understanding of the potential impact of trauma on children’s lives), but also consider its limitations, as a model that is individualist, and overly dependent on a neurodevelopmental account. In particular, the seminar will highlight the gendered assumptions and implications of the model, exploring ACES through an intersectional feminist lens. 

ACEs, resilience and the early years – Ariane Critchley and Dr Lynn McNair

Monday 25th February 2019

The early years and early intervention are a cornerstone of Scottish policy, with investment being a key route to preventing problems later in life and improving Scotland’s social problems. The growing interest in ACEs and resilience-led interventions have provided an opportunity to re-focus on the importance of early experiences on later outcomes. In this seminar we will discuss how ACE aware practice is shaping early years and childcare settings, and what this means for children, families and professional learning.  Ariane Critchley, will examine the ways child protection social work with unborn babies and their expectant mothers has been informed by current discourses around ACES, opening up the difficult conversation about why and how the state should intervene to prevent harm. Dr Lynn McNair was Head of Cowgate Under Fives Centre in Edinburgh and is now a Senior Teaching Fellow at Moray House School of Education.  Lynn will talk about the ways discourse on ACEs and resilience is shaping early childhood practice, and in particular its relationship to, and impact on, Froebalian principles.

Making Scotland an ACE informed nation: continuing the conversation – Dr Amy Chandler, Dr Cara Blaisdell and Laura Wright

Tuesday 6th Nov 2018

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and interventions to support resilience have risen to prominence in Scottish public policy, shaping education and health, through to justice, social work and community development. This seminar invites three academics to discuss how ‘ACE informed’ discourses are impacting upon their field of study. Dr Amy Chandler will examine the potentially counter-productive ways ACEs are used in research on suicide and self-harm; Dr Cara Blaisdell will explore ACEs, deficit models and social justice in early years practice; and doctoral researcher Laura Wright will reflect on the limited role of children’s participation in the ACEs movement. The seminar will conclude with a reflective audience discussion on the wider implications of making Scotland an ACE-informed nation.

The troubling concept of resilience – Dr Emma Davidson and Dr Eric Carlin 

Tuesday 28 November 2017

‘Resilience’ is a term often used in discussions about marginalised young people and what ‘to do’ about them. With its emphasis on individual assets and behaviours, it has become central within Scottish youth policy. In this seminar we will discuss findings from two recent Scottish studies on young people’s experiences of growing up in a disadvantaged neighbourhood. Drawing on young people’s own stories and views, Eric and Emma (The University of Edinburgh) will discuss the contemporary use of resilience and its usefulness in supporting and protecting young people. The seminar will suggest that the meaning and operationalisation of ‘resilience’ should be reappraised so as to rebalance public policy on reducing social and economic inequalities.



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