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Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work

6th Biennial International Symposium

Wednesday 30 June to Thursday 1 July 2021

Dunadry Hotel, Antrim

DARE 2021

  • DARE 2021

    DARE 2021: This sixth DARE symposium builds on the fifth symposium in July 2018 which brought together over 150 delegates from 20 countries including senior practitioners, managers, policy makers, researchers, regulators and social workers in education and training.


    Dear colleagues, we trust that you are surviving the pressures of the COVID19 pandemic and the government, organisational and social responses. I regret to inform you that we have to postpone DARE SIX due to the situation. Hotels in the UK are closed, and we have been in touch with the Dunadry Hotel which does not expect to be back in business by June.

    Also, there are uncertainties of travel arrangements for participants. In the circumstances we have no option but to postpone the conference, and we have booked the Hotel for Wednesday 30 June and Thursday 01 July 2021 for DARE SIX. Our three plenary speakers have confirmed that they are available on those dates. We hope that our five Workshop leaders and those of you who have had abstracts accepted will also be able to attend on those dates.

    Accepted abstracts will be regarded as accepted for the revised dates. If you have already paid the registration fee, we will regard that as the fee for the conference on the revised dates unless we hear from you. If you require re-imbursement, please contact Mrs Sharon Lucas, our administrator ( We will be in touch in the autumn, and look forward to seeing you in summer 2021 if not before!

    Kind regards

    Brian Taylor
    Professor of Social Work, Ulster University, Northern Ireland
    Decisions, Assessment, Risk & Evidence inSocial Work

    Registration Now Open

    Registration Options Before 31 March After 31 March
    Full Conference Rate (including dinner) £155 £165
    Premium Rate (excluding dinner) £125 £135
    Single day (excluding dinner) £70 £75
    Dinner only £30  


    This biennial DARE conference series brings together researchers, managers, educators, policy makers, regulators and experienced practitioners to share developments on the related topics of:

    • Professional judgement including cognitive heuristics, bias and use of knowledge.
    • Decision & assessment processes with clients, families, professionals and organisations.
    • Assessment tool development including diagnosis and statistical prediction of harm.
    • Risk assessment, communication and management, including legal aspects and risk taking.
    • Ethical, emotional and contextual aspects of decision making, assessment and risk.
    • Learning & managing decisions, assessment & risk including supervision, education & training.
    • Evidence synthesis, knowledge transfer & implementation science for practice & policy.


    The DARE conference series aims to support the development of professional knowledge and skills for the benefit of clients, families and societies by promoting research, organisation development, knowledge transfer and teaching initiatives

    DARE is supported by the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences

    Please note that this Programme is draft and subject to change.

  • Plenary Speakers

    Professor Karen Broadhurst

    Professor Karen Broadhurst

    Professor Karen Broadhurst works at the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. She is Co-Director of the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research which includes researchers from the disciplines of social work, social policy, law, criminology, statistics and computing. Karen is Society Lead for the Data Science Institute at Lancaster University. In partnership with the SAIL Databank at Swansea University and with a Nuffield grant of £2.18M, she leads a team of researchers analysing family justice-systems in England and Wales using single and linked large-scale administrative datasets. This is a central part of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory for England and Wales. First outputs from the project team concerning new-born babies and infants (The “Born into Care” series), which are shaping national policy and practice. Karen’s recent work on the scale and pattern of women’s repeat appearances in public law proceedings (child protection cases) in the family court in England has led to major central government investment in a range of prevention initiatives in England and Wales, as well as further afield.  Karen is collaborating with colleagues at the University of Melbourne, Western Australia, the Australian Catholic University and Peking University on studies of child protection.

    Opening the ‘Black Box’ of Decision Making: Use of Large-scale Administrative Data

    The family justice system in England and Wales has long been considered a ‘black box’: decisions and actions are hidden from view because proceedings are not open to the public. One way of improving transparency is to use large-scale routinely collected data in order to shed light on the decisions taken by local authorities and the family courts. Findings from a recently completed study are presented which uncovered divergent best-interest decisions for children. Implications for other social work and family court settings are highlighted.

    Professor Pascal Bastian

    Professor Pascal Bastian

    Pascal Bastian is Professor of Educational Science in the field of social pedagogy at the University of Landau in Germany. He holds a Diploma and a PhD in educational science. In 2017 he obtained the teaching authorisation (habilitation) in the field of educational science with the habilitation thesis: ‘Social pedagogical judgement and decision-making’. His research focuses on judgement and decision-making in social work; actuarial- and algorithm-based assessment tools; digitalisation and standardisation in child protection and child welfare services; evidence based social work; and professionalisation. With colleagues he has organized two international conferences on the topic of judgement and decision-making in social work. Most recently, together with Prof. Dr. Mark Schrödter, he conducted research in an ethnographic study funded by the German Research Foundation on professional decision-making in child protection during unannounced home visits.

    Big Data: Evidence-based and Algorithm-based assessment: The Impact on Professional Judgement

    This talk will discuss various theories of judgment and decision-making in social work and address the possibilities and limitations of evidence-based and algorithm-based assessment tools. Alternatives to conventional normative judgment and decision theories will be offered, more oriented towards ethnographic and constructivist concepts. The session will offer challenges and prompts to reflect on the practice of professional judgment and decision making.

    Dr Emily Putnam-Hornstein

    Dr Emily Putnam-Hornstein

    Emily Putnam-Hornstein PhD, is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Director of the Children’s Data Network, a university-agency collaborative focused on the linkage and analysis of administrative records. She maintains a research appointment at the University of California at Berkeley: California Child Welfare Indicators Project, and is serving as a researcher-in-residence at California’s Health and Human Services Agency, helping to steward state-wide data initiatives.

    A leading researcher in the field of child maltreatment and child welfare systems, Emily is recognized for her expertise in the integration of cross-sector data to inform children’s policies and programmes. Her current research focuses on the use of risk prediction modelling to provide insight into where scarce public resources may be most efficiently targeted for the greatest impact, and to improve decision-making at the front-end of child protection systems. Emily graduated from Yale with a BA in psychology, received her MSW from Columbia University, and earned her PhD in Social Welfare from University of California at Berkeley. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as a child welfare caseworker in New York City.

    Decision Algorithms in Social Work: Can They Work, and Should We Use Them?

    Social workers are often asked to make high stakes decisions under time pressure, typically with imperfect information. This talk will examine how public health and human service agencies are exploring the use of algorithms to support more accurate and consistent decision-making. Ethical considerations, validation studies, and classification performance will be discussed in the context of several case studies, primarily in the area of child protection. Parallels in other social work decision situations will also be explored.

  • Call for Abstracts

    Abstracts are invited for Oral Presentations and Poster Presentations addressing any aspect of the conference themes. Abstracts should outline the context, methods and findings - of the study, research synthesis, or innovative service development or teaching activity - together with a generalizable message.

    Oral Presentations

    Presentations will be a maximum of 20 minutes and will be managed as parallel sets, with each set on a linked theme followed by discussion.

    Poster Presentations

    • One sheet, portrait (vertical) format, not exceeding 90 cm wide by 130 cm high (A0 size).
    • Pins will be provided for you to fix you poster to a board.
    • Title and author(s) of the poster should be at the top of the poster in bold lettering.
    • Participants from Northern Ireland who would like assistance in producing a poster are invited to contact Dr Campbell Killick, Lecturer in Social Work, Ulster University, at

    Further information

    Abstracts should be emailed to Prof Brian Taylor, Professor of Social Work at by Friday 31 January 2020 with copy to the conference secretary Mrs Sharon Lucas at using the template.

    Abstracts will only be accepted where at least one named author attends the conference. Preference will be given to abstracts:

    • with a clear link to the conference themes;
    • with clear relevance to social work practice, management, regulation, teaching or research; and
    • based on empirical data (research, service evaluation, training evaluation, professional audit; etc.) although exceptional theoretical abstracts may be accepted.

    Preference for Oral Presentations will be given to abstracts that are likely to be of interest to a wide cross-section of the audience. Where the Scientific Committee declines an abstract for Oral Presentation it may offer Poster Presentation instead. Decisions will be made by Friday 21 February 2020. The conference early-bird rate closes Friday 27 March 2020.

    Further conference details, including information on the programme, registration and fees, are being added incrementally to our website or contact the Mrs Sharon Lucas .

    Sponsored by the Health and Social Care Board for Northern Ireland and Ulster University School of Applied Social & Policy Sciences.

  • Programme (Draft)

    Day 1 - Wednesday 30 June 2021

    9am Registration and refreshments
    9.45am Welcome: Dr Janice Bailey, Acting Director, Health & Social Care Research and Development, Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland
    9.50am Conference overview: Brian Taylor, Professor of Social Work, Ulster University
    10am Plenary: Professor Karen Broadhurst, Co-Director of the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, University of Lancaster, England: Opening the ‘Black Box’ of Decision Making: Use of Large-scale Administrative Data
    11am Coffee break & look at posters and stalls
    11.30am Session 1
    12.45pm Light lunch & look at posters and stalls
    1.45pm Plenary: Professor Pascal Bastian, Professor of Social Pedagogy, University of Landau, Germany: Big Data: Evidence-based and Algorithm-based Assessment: The Impact on Professional Judgement
    2.45pm Tea break & look at posters and stalls
    3.15pm Session 2
    4.45pm Comfort break. Get your own drinks from the bar!
    5.15pm to 6.30pm Session 3
    7pm Musical entertainment with Helen Killick
    7.30pm Conference dinner

    Day 2 - Thursday 1 July 2021

    9.30am Session 4
    11am Coffee break & look at posters and stalls
    11.30am Plenary: Dr Emily Putnam-Hornstein, Director of the Children’s Data Network, University of Southern California, USA: Decision Algorithms in Social Work: Can They Work, and Should We Use Them?
    12.30pm Light lunch & look at posters and stalls
    1.30pm Session 5
    2.45pm Tea break
    3.15pm Session 6
    4.15pm Plenary
    Brief feedback from discussion groups and close 
    4.45pm Closing: Dr Campbell Killick, Lecturer in Social Work, Ulster University
    5pm Finish
  • Scholarships

    There are two Scholarships to cover attendance costs at the Decisions, Assessment, Risk and Evidence in Social Work Sixth Biennial International Symposium in June-July 2021. The Scholarships are available to participants from lower-income European countries, as defined by the European Social Work Research Association. Further information about Scholarships is available from: Dr Andrew Whittaker of the ESWRA Decisions, Assessment and Risk Special Interest Group.

  • Location of Conference

    Accommodation is available on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis at a conference discount rate (£85.00) at the Dunadry Hotel if you indicate that you are attending this conference.

    NB: this cannot be booked online due to discounted rate – please either telephone 0044 (0)28 9443 4343 or email


    Dunadry Hotel, Antrim 

    2 Islandreagh Dr,
    BT41 2HA

    View on Google Maps

    Other Accommodation in the Local Area

    Hilton Templepatrick Hotel & Country Club

    Castle Upton Estate
    BT39 0DD

    Tel: 028 9443 5500

    Distance 0.5 miles (approx. 13 min walk)

    The Templeton Hotel

    882 Antrim Road
    BT39 0AH

    Tel: 028 9443 2984

    Distance 2.2 miles (taxi)

    Guest house accommodation available in the local area includes:

    Beechmount Farm B&B

    30 Seven Mile Straight
    BT41 4QH

    Tel: 028 9446 7110

    Distance 1.7 miles (taxi)

    Keef Halla Country House

    20 Tully Road
    Nutts Corner
    BT29 4SW
    Tel: 028 9082 5491

    Distance 6.2 miles (taxi)

    Temple Taxis: 028 9443 3333 or Aldergrove Taxis: 028 9442 2226

  • Previous Conferences

    DARE 2018

    The fifth DARE symposium in July 2018 brought together about 160 delegates from 22 countries (across four continents), including senior practitioners, managers, policy makers, researchers, regulators and social workers in education and training.

    Plenary Speakers

    • Professor Haluk Soydan, Research Professor of Social Work, University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, USA
    • Professor Rami Benbenishty, Louis and Gabi Weisfeld School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Israel,
    • Professor Brian Littlechild, Research Lead, Department of Nursing & Social Work, University of Hertfordshire

    DARE 2016

    The fourth DARE symposium in July 2016 brought together about 130 delegates from 12 countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

    Plenary Speakers

    • Mandeep K. Dhami, PhD, Professor of Decision Psychology at Middlesex University, London.
    • John D. Fluke, PhD, Associate Director of System Research and Evaluation at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
    • Gerd Gigerenzer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Director of the Harding Center for Risk Literacy in Berlin.

    DARE 2014

    The third DARE symposium in July 2014 brought together about 120 delegates from 10 countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

    Plenary Speakers

    • Professor Eileen Gambrill, Hutto Patterson Professor of Child and Family Studies, University of California at Berkeley, USA, internationally recognized for her work on critical thinking, decision making and related ethical issues, and evidence based practice.
    • Dr Martin Webber, Reader in Social Work, University of York, UK, well-known for his passion for rigorous research in mental health social work, including application of evidence to practice decisions and professional knowledge-creation process.
    • Mr David Carson, Visitor, School of Law, University of Southampton, UK, an international speaker on the interface between law and risk in human services including the management of risk and professional decisions in organizations.

    DARE 2012

    The second DARE symposium in July 2012 brought together about 100 delegates from nine countries including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

    Plenary Speakers

    • Professor Hazel Kemshall, De Montfort University Leicester who has published widely on risk assessment and management with adult client groups including criminal justice.
    • Professor Aron Shlonsky, University of Toronto who has published widely on risk assessment and predicting harm in child welfare, and on evidence based practice in social work.

    Dare 2010

    The first DARE symposium in July 2010 brought together about 70 delegates including social workers in practice, management, policy, regulation, and education and training.

    Plenary Speakers

    • Professor Jill Manthorpe, Director of the Social Care Workforce Research Unit at King’s College London, who has undertaken research and published widely on adult safeguarding and risk in social care.
    • Mr Martin Calder, MA, CQSW, private consultant of Calder Training & Consultancy Ltd, who has undertaken developmental work with organisations and published widely on risk and assessment in child protection.