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Sammi Fitz-symonds

Sammi Fitz-symonds

Research student


I am a research assistant working in the Children's Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) at Cardiff University (School of Social Science). I am currently working on a HCRW-funded evaluation of parental advocacy services in Wales and on a study exploring the implementation of child sexual exploitation guidance in Wales.

I am also completing my PhD part-time (ESRC funded) in the School of Law and Politics and work as a tutor on the LLB Family Law module. For my PhD, I am exploring themes surrounding agency of opportunity for care-experienced young people in relation to access to higher education. As part of this, I am comparing legal and policy models in Wales and Norway. My research interests more broadly relate to care-leavers' experiences of transition from care to independence and experiences within children's social care.


I am interested in the role of law and policy within children's social care. As a socio-legal researcher, I am particularly interested in the interaction between law and lived experience. My doctoral research focuses on how care-experienced individuals experience and exercise agency in accessing higher education and employment and how legal and policy models influence this. For my PhD, I am comparing Welsh and Norwegian legislation, policy and practice in relation to the transition from care to independence. I am also interested in other experiences of children's social care, including peer parental advocacy, children's advocacy, participation and decision-making and CSE as part of my work with CASCADE.

Current Projects:

  • An exploration of policy models around leaving care in Wales and Norway (Doctoral research).
  • Evaluation of parental advocacy services in four local authorities in Wales.
  • An evaluation of the implementation of CSE guidance in Wales.

Previous Projects:

  • A realist evaluation of peer parental advocacy services in Camden Local Authority.
  • Evaluation of Resolve West Early Intervention project.
  • An exploration of local government responses to digital inclusion for care leavers during the pandemic (Masters dissertation)
  • Evaluation of FDAC outcomes in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire.
  • A comprehensive review of literature on vulnerable suspects and defendants in the UK and US (CUROP).

Written Outputs

  • Diaz, C., Fitz-Symonds, S., Evans, L., Westlake, D., Devine, R., Mauri, D., & Davies, B. (2022). The Perceived Impact of Peer Parental Advocacy on Child Protection Practice: A Mixed-Methods Study. What Works for Children's Social Care 
  • Diaz, C. & Fitz-Symonds, S. (2022) Evaluation of the Resolve West Take 5 Early Intervention Project: Final Report. Project Report. Cardiff University.
  • Fitz-Symonds, S. (2021) Leaving Care in a Pandemic: The Impact of Policy and Practice on Digital Exclusion and Social Capital During Covid-19. SSRM MSc Dissertation.
  • Fitz-Symonds, S. (2021) FDAC Outcomes in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire: Final Report. Project Report.
  • Fitz-Symonds, S. (2020) An Exploration of Why Care-Leavers Choose Not to Access Higher Education. LLM Dissertation.

Conference Papers:

  • Cardiff Law School PGR Symposium (2022). Paper Presentation: ‘Agency of opportunity and care leaver transitions: A comparison of Welsh and Norwegian models of practice’.
  • Cardiff University Breaking Boundaries Conference (2022). Poster Presentation: ‘A comparison of care leaver outcomes in Wales and Norway’.
  • Annual Childlife Conference – Oslo Metropolitan University (2022). Paper Presentation: ‘Leaving state care in a pandemic: The impact of policy and practice on digital exclusion and social capital during Covid-19’.
  • Kempe Conference (2022). Paper Presentation: ‘Peer Parental Advocacy: Implementation and Impact (co-presented with Dr Clive Diaz); Panel Discussion: ‘The voice and leadership of young people in child protection'. Paper Presentation: ‘Leaving care in a pandemic: The impact of policy and practice on digital exclusion in the UK’.


Towards Agency of Opportunity for Young People Leaving Care: A Comparison of Welsh and Norwegian Models of Practice


  • LLB Family Law (2022-2023)
  • LLB Contract Law (2021-2022)