Professor Jennifer Davidson


Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (CELCIS)

Personal statement

Jennifer is a Professor of Practice and the Executive Director of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, a University network which also incorporates her role as Executive Director of the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), promoting the highest aspirations for the quality of public care experiences for children and young people, and secures their improved outcomes through the development of well-informed policy and the effective implementation of best evidence.

Jennifer previously directed the University of Strathclyde’s Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC)—the predecessor to CELCIS—which led the successful decade-long change programme across Scotland’s residential child care services.

In Scotland, Jennifer has a position of significant responsibility in working with the Scottish Government in the development of policy in this field.

Jennifer is driven by a passion for the effective protection of vulnerable children and young people. Her interests lie in the relationship between children’s rights discourse and children’s lived experiences, and in the impact and relevance of international rights and standards to national and regional practice in children's services.

In particular, mechanisms to promote the process of sustainable change from policy into practice are at the heart of her work. Jennifer has become a globally-recognised and respected international expert in this respect, with a close working relationship with the global work of the United Nations in driving forward these ideas across developing and developed countries.

Most notably, Jennifer spearheaded CELCIS successful International programmes. She was the project director for Moving Forward: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, the international implementation handbook for the United Nations’ framework, with its foundation in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). She has led the CELCIS development of the global implementation measuring tool on behalf of the UN, Tracking Progress: Implementing the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, and is the Course Principal for the associated international MOOC Getting Care Right for All Children.

Jennifer’s range of experience spans Canada, the United States and Europe, where she has held leadership positions in children’s services and knowledge exchange. Jennifer has served on national and international committees related to children’s services, and was a founding member of the US National Campaign for the Ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

While at the University, Jennifer has led and managed the securing and delivery of over £57M in grant funding.


Has expertise in:

    • 'Looked after' children, child welfare and child and youth care
    • International children's rights
    • Alternative care systems, international care reform and the United Nations Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children
    • Workforce development
    • Knowledge mobilisation



Post-Graduate Certificate in Human Rights Law
Graduate School of Law, Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde, 2007-2009

Master of Social Work (with Honours)
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 1994-1997

Bachelor of Social Work (with Distinction)
McGill University, Montreal, Canada, 1987-1991


Developing family-based care : complexities in implementing the UN guidelines for the alternative care of children
Davidson Jennifer C, Milligan Ian, Quinn Neil, Cantwell Nigel, Elsley Susan
European Journal of Social Work Vol 20, pp. 754-769 (2017)
Moving forward : towards a rights-based paradigm for young people transitioning out of care
Quinn Neil, Davidson Jennifer, Milligan Ian, Elsley Susan, Cantwell Nigel
International Social Work Vol 60, pp. 140-155 (2017)
Closing the implementation gap : moving forward the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
Davidson Jennifer
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies Vol 6, pp. 379-387 (2015)
Welcoming a national inquiry on in-care historic abuse in Scotland
Davidson Jennifer
Professional Social Work Vol 2015 (2015)
Moving Forward : Implementing The United Nations Guidelines For The Alternative Care Of Children
Cantwell Nigel, Davidson Jennifer, Elsley Susan, Milligan Ian, Quinn Neil
A bully in the playground : examining the role of neoliberal economic globalisation in children’s struggle to become ‘fully human’
Davidson Jennifer
Law, Social Justice and Global Development Vol 16 (2010)

more publications

Professional activities

International Social Work (Journal)
Peer reviewer
Social Inclusion (Journal)
Peer reviewer
South Africa National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW)
Invited speaker
Expectations of the South African Children’s Act: Transforming Child and Youth Care Centres.
Invited speaker
European Social Network (External organisation)
International Child & Youth Care Network (External organisation)

more professional activities


Tracking Progress: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'
Davidson, Jennifer (Academic)
The development of a global tracking tool to measure the degree of implementation of the UN Guidelines at State level
01-Jan-2014 - 01-Jan-2014
Moving Forward: Implementing the ‘Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children
Davidson, Jennifer (Academic)
International handbook for the implementation of UN Guidelines
01-Jan-2011 - 31-Jan-2012
Leadership of the SG Looked After Children Strategic Implementation Group Programme Office Secretariat (2010)
Davidson, Jennifer (Academic)
31-Jan-2010 - 30-Jan-2011
Acknowledgement and Accountability Forum on historic abuse in Scotland
Davidson, Jennifer (Principal Investigator) Duncalf, Zachari (Co-investigator) Hawthorn, Moyra (Co-investigator)
15-Jan-2009 - 31-Jan-2009
Leadership of the National Residential Child Care Initiative (2009)
Davidson, Jennifer (Academic)
31-Jan-2009 - 30-Jan-2010

more projects


Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (CELCIS)
Curran Building

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