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Children's Research Network (CRN) finds a new home in the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre


The Children’s Research Network (CRN) facilitates connection, communication and collaboration between researchers, practitioners and policy makers across Ireland and Northern Ireland, to better understand and improve the lives of children and young people.

In 2019, oversight of CRN moved to the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre (TRiCC). Find out why, and what this means for CRN and TRiCC members.

Have a peek at the Children’s Research Network website

“The Children’s Research Network’s move to TRiCC guarantees the continuation of the Network - and its aims and key activities - into the future.”

What is the Children's Research Network?

The Children's Research Network brings together a wide range of professionals with an interest in research on child and family issues across the island of Ireland.

The Network seeks to

  • Connect researchers to each other and to practitioners and policy makers
  • Focus on developing structures and mechanisms to promote the sharing of information
  • Link more experienced and early career researchers
  • Develop a range of membership services that support researchers in this field

The objectives of the Network are

  • To create opportunities for researchers at every level of experience
  • To raise awareness of the research issues relevant to children and young people’s wellbeing
  • To connect the Network with other relevant groupings and networks
  • To support research skill development
  • Pursue joint activities that the members may identify as useful in support of the aims of the network

Why did CRN move to the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre?

Sustainability is critical to the success of any network. The Atlantic Philanthropies' funding, which generously supported the Network for four years, came to an end in December 2018. Throughout 2017 and 2018, with the assistance of Centre for Effective Services (CES), considerable efforts were made to sustain the future of the Network. This included seeking funding, building the Network and establishing relationships with organisations. The result of these efforts led, in early 2019, to the oversight for the Network moving from CES to Trinity Research in Childhood Centre (TRiCC), Trinity College Dublin. This new development TRiCC guarantees the continuation of the Network - and its aims and key activities - into the future.

What does this mean?

TRiCC Director, Professor Trevor Spratt answers a few of your questions, and explains why this new era is exciting for the Network, TRiCC and children’s research in Ireland on the whole.

Why did Trinity Research in Childhood Centre want to host the Children's Research Network?

“We were very pleased to be asked to consider the possibility of the Children's Research Network finding a new 'home' within Trinity. As networks grow and mature, forming new partnerships to increase reach and influence becomes a natural part of development.

The Trinity Research in Childhood Centre has similar aims to the Network, in that we seek to bring together researchers working in different disciplines to promote a common endeavour - the production and dissemination of research designed to improve the lives of children on this island and internationally. We believe that this compatibility of aims lays the foundation for the further development of new connections between members of the two networks, with the potential to produce synergies leading to the enhancement of research capacity as members, drawn from the academic, professional and policy sectors across this island, meet each other and discover commonalities which provide catalysts for new and exciting projects and initiatives.”

What did the transition period look like?

“Well, first of all, Derina Johnson, joined as Research Co-ordinator. After an initial 3 months at the Centre for Effective Services, the previous home of the Network and closely working with the Network staff there - David Kenefick, Ruth Geraghty and James O'Connor - Derina then moved to the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre in early 2019. We aimed for as smooth a transition period as possible, and this 'handover' phase provided both continuity and stability, as Trinity, by degrees, took over responsibility for the various aspects of the Network. Derina continues to work closely with Network's Advisory Committee, who provide invaluable support and guidance - an absolutely essential resource of the Network!”

Have the aims of the Network changed?

“The short answer is ‘no’, we seek to support the aims of the Network by through maintaining key current activities as well as finding new ways to achieve them. What we do envisage, however, is the emergence of additional aims and activities as members develop relationships with one another and see new potentialities in ways to increase research capacity and influence.”

Should Network members expect business as usual?

“Yes and no. We aim to continue core aspects of the Network to allow members to experience as seamless a transition as possible. But it is obvious that one person – Derina – does not have the capacity, as a part time (50%) research coordinator, to fulfil all the functions of the team who currently support the network. We said goodbye to David, Ruth and James when the Network transitioned and the current funding stream concluded. So a certain amount of ‘cloth cutting’ is inevitable. That said, we envisage new synergies emerging in the relationship between Network and TRiCC over time, including hosting joint events, offering opportunities to grow aspects of the Network in new and exciting ways. We will of course continue to keep members informed through the Network website as to plans and developments. We also always welcome members to share their ideas as to how we might shape the future of the Network and this new collaboration, so I'd encourage them to not hesitate to get in touch with Derina or myself – we look forward to hearing from you!”

What does the Network mean for TRiCC and its members?

“One of the key challenges facing university-based researchers is to ensure our research has impact. This usually involves the cultivation of networks comprised of key research, policy and professional partners who provide a bridge from college to community. Having oversight of the Children’s Research Network provides Trinity with a readymade network of key individuals across this island, mirroring the different aspects of research into children’s lives represented within TRiCC. As we move forward we anticipate holding joint events designed to bring together members of TRiCC and CRN to enable us to get to know each other better and explore ways of developing new synergies in taking forward our collective aim of broadening the influence and scope of children’s research nationally.”

You can contact Professor Trevor Spratt at sprattt@tcd.ie

Meet Dr Derina Johnson, Research Coordinator, Children's Research Network / Trinity Research in Childhood Centre

Dr Derina Johnson

Research Coordinator, Children’s Research Network / Trinity Research in Childhood Centre

Derina brings to the Network experience in both academic and practitioner areas. She has a PhD in Social Work and Social Policy from Trinity College Dublin - a qualitative case study exploring the lives of young migrants and refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar Border. She has worked as field director for a mental health NGO on the Thailand-Myanmar Border, as well as in play therapy and psychotherapy in Dublin city. In addition to working with CRN/TRiCC, she acts as project manager for the Horizon 2020 research project CONSEED in Trinity College Dublin, delivers lectures pertaining to child development, abuse and trauma across different universities, and is involved in the online components and lecturing on the Trinity Elective - Displacement: Understanding the Human Experience of Forced Migration

Derina’s Trinity College Dublin profile