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Dr. Sinead Whiting
Assistant Professor, Social Studies


Sinéad is an Assistant Professor in Social Work, and Practice Education Coordinator, in the School of Social Work and Social Policy in Trinity College Dublin. She holds a PhD from Trinity College Dublin (2023), a Masters in Social Work from University College Dublin (2001), and a BA(Hons) in History from Trinity College Dublin (1998). Sinéad's PhD research is a qualitative study investigating the lived experiences of a group of young adults who grew up in long-term foster care with permanence, in Ireland. Prior to joining the School of Social Work and Social Policy Sinéad had 20 years experience working as a social worker in the fields of adoption, foster care and child protection and welfare. Sinead teaches 'Social Work Theories and Counselling Practice Approaches' and 'Preparation for Practice Learning; A Reflective Practice Approach' on the Master in Social Work programme. She also delivers lectures as part of the 'Children in Care' Modules on the Master in Social Work programme, the Bachelor in Social Studies (Social Work) undergraduate degree and the Post Graduate Diploma in Child Protection and Welfare. In addition she teaches 'Preparation for Practice-based Learning' modules across all years on the undergraduate BSS (Social Work) degree programme. Sinéad is involved in delivering continuous professional development courses for professional social workers in the areas of practice education and supervision and reflective practice.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Whiting, S., Dorney, L., Rose, J., O'Connor, E., Slavin, P., Kelly, E., Melaugh, B., Feeney, B., National Practice Teaching in Social Work Initiative; a rare opportunity to shape the development of social work student placements and practice teaching in Ireland. , Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 2023 Journal Article, 2023

Quigley, Duana; Poole, Claire; Whiting, Sinead; O'Connor, Erna; Gleeson, Claire; Alpine, Lucy, University student experiences of work-based placements during COVID-19 pandemic: An inter-disciplinary survey of allied health and social work students., Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 13, (1), 2023 Journal Article, 2023 DOI

O'Connor, E., Whiting, S., Mapping blended learning in social work practice education to national standards - a Hybrid Placement Model Teaching and Learning Resource, Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 2023 Journal Article, 2023

O'Connor, E., Whiting, S., Gilligan, R.,Holt, S., Brady, E.,Eliffe, R., Feely,M., Flynn, S., Houston, S., McEvoy., P., 'Hybrid Placement Model: A Social Work Teaching and Learning Resource', TARA, TCD, 2020, - Protocol or guideline, 2020 TARA - Full Text

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Conlon, Catherine and Antosik-Parsons, Kate and Flynn, Susan and Caffrey, Louise and Byrne, Julie and Whiting, Sinead, , Lessons from Pivoting to Online Interviewing: Ethical and Technical Considerations for Qualitative Researchers following the COVID-19 Pandemic (February 1, 2023). Available at SSRN: or, 2023 Report, 2023

Whiting, S, Birth Family Connections: the perspective of young adults who grew up in permanent foster care, EUSARF 2021: The Perspective of the Child, Zurich, 1-3 November 2021, 2021 Conference Paper, 2021

Whiting, S, What Difference does Adoption Make: the experiences of young adults adopted as older teenagers from long-term foster care, ICAR7 International Conference on Adoption Research , Milan, 6th-9th July 2021, 2021 Conference Paper, 2021

Research Expertise


Sinéad's research interests are strongly grounded in her experiences in professional practice and are located in the field of children in care and care leavers, with a focus on experiences of permanence for young people in care, including adoption from foster care. Sinead has a particular interest in themes related to youth transitions and how common youth transitions intersect with issues such as adoption and foster care in early adulthood. She is interested in research relating to the experiences of foster care and adoption for those from the Travelling community and other ethnic minority groups, including experiences of transracial placements and intercountry adoption. Sinead's PhD research examined experiences of permanency and stability for young adults who grew up in foster care, drawing upon qualitative methodologies to understand more about the lived experiences of young adults who grew up in foster care with permanence and using the lens of youth transitions to gain deeper insights into key issues. Sinead's research interests also extend to Practice Education in a social work and interdisciplinary context contributing to current Irish based research drawing on innovation in the field of practice education, within allied health and social care professions.


  • Title
    • The lived experience of of young adults who grew up in foster care with permanence
  • Summary
    • A lack of stability and permanence for young people growing up in long-term out of home care is a common critique of child welfare systems. Legal permanence through the use of adoption gained some priority, however, increasingly relational permanence, defined as an enduring and supportive relationships, is seen as important (Perez,2017; McSherry et al,2016 & 2018). In Ireland many young people raised in long-term foster care continue living with their foster carers even after aging out of care. Only a small number are adopted, and adoption tends to occur in late teen years, by long-term foster carers. Thus, while adoption occurs infrequently, stability within foster placements appears common, leading to young people potentially experiencing either legal or relational permanence. This study will investigate the lived experience of a group of young adults who grew up foster care with permanence, in Ireland. In-depth qualitative interviews with 22 young adults in their 20s were undertaken. Through reflective thematic analysis and including the lens of youth transitions, insights were uncovered that have allowed for a broadening of understandings into how permanence is conceptualised for young people growing up in permanent foster care.
  • Date From
    • Sept 2016
  • Date To
    • April 2023
  • Title
    • Pivot Project Research Consortium
  • Summary
    • The Pivot Project Research Consortium is a Community of Practice that was formed with the coming together of six social researchers, from the same school within the one university. The commonality that drew the group together was the impact of the public health measures, put in place to manage the pandemic, upon the process of data collection for each of our research projects. Specifically we were all adapting to the need to pivot to online data collection methods. What evolved was a Community of Practice that facilitated ongoing dialogue, that transcended the use of online data collection, to a deeper conversation about wider methodological, epistemological and ontological issues that were impacting upon each project in diverse but similar ways.
  • Date From
    • May 2020
  • Date To
    • Ongoing
  • Title
    • Hybrid Placement Model
  • Summary
    • Development of the Hybrid Placement Model in conjunction with Dr Erna O'Connor and social work colleagues in the School of Social Work and Social Policy; Dr Stephanie Holt, Professor Robbie Gilligan, Dr Eavan Brady, Dr Michael Feely, Dr Ruth Elliffe, Dr Susan Flynn, Dr Stan Houston. This model was developed to support social work practice placements to continue in the context of public health measures brought in as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The model demonstrates how practice placements can take place via on-site learning, off-site learning, on-site learning and reflective practice. Each of the CORU/SWRB proficiencies are mapped to the model. The Hybrid Placement Model has been adopted by all HEIs providing social work education in Republic of Ireland.
  • Date From
    • Aug 2020
  • Date To
    • Dec 2021
  • Summary
    • An inter-disciplinary study investigating the experiences of students from allied health and social work professions of undertaking a professional placement during the Covid-19 pandemic. This mixed methods study reports on the students' experiences and suggests a triad of supports were instrumental in supporting the the students during this difficult placement cycle. Findings indicate value of the triad of supports for supporting student placements.
  • Date From
    • June 2021


Social work education, work practice teaching; Social work with children and families



Reviewer Child Care in Practice 2019

Irish Council of Social Workers in Adoption Member Executive Committee 2018

Member of Trinity Research in Childhood (TRiCC)2017-present

Reviewer Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning 2023

Member of International Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood from Care (INTRAC)

Member of Tusla Adoption Committee for Dublin/Mid Leinster 2023


CORU registered Social Worker – Present

Irish Association Of Social Workers January 2012 – Present

Irish Council of Social Workers in Adoption September 2018 – Present