Every child is a merit

The research group brings together research and development initiatives focused on children and families in the child welfare system. The goal is to improve the quality of child and family research at Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society, initiating collaboration between scholars from different disciplines within the university, on an international level, with policy planners and specialists in the field.

The research group consists of researchers and students (undergraduate and doctoral students). Main activities of the research group are related to organizing thematic academic seminars, writing research and developmental project proposals with a focus on practice-based research (supporting participation of children and families as the central research subjects) and implementing project-related activities, publishing high-level scientific articles and promoting the importance of children and family-related topics in the society.

Children and Family Research Group has evolved to the Centre for Advanced Research on Integrity, Rights and Inclusion of the Child (CIRIC), visit the webpage HERE.

The main research and development themes

  • Child and family participation in child protection assessment practices (Professor Karmen Toros)
  • Children in substitute care (lecturer Anne Tiko)
  • Children's rights and child-friendly justice (doctoral student Kiira Gornischeff)
  • Interprofessional assessment and interventions (doctoral student Koidu Saia)
  • Child-centred approach in residential substitute care (doctoral student Ingrid Sindi)
  • Mental health and well-being of children (doctoral student Karin Streimann)
  • Bird’s nest parenting as a child-centred solution in the context of shared parenting (doctoral student Rafaela Eugenie Simonee Lehtme)

Research & development projects

  • Study on Effective participatory discourse: Experiences of participants' engagement in the context of child protection assessment practices. January 2019–December 2022. Funded by Estonian Research Council. Principal investigator: Karmen Toros

  • Development project The Networking Lab II: Increasing the Collaboration for Teaching and Research. November 21–22, 2019. Funded by Tallinn University SOGOLAS Development Fund. Coordinator: Karmen Toros
  • Study on Child and family engagement in child protection assessment practices: study on client perspectives and in-service training. January–December 2019. Funded by Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs. Principal investigator: Karmen Toros
  • Study on Implementation of the New Juvenile Offenders System in Estonia: Experiences by Juveniles and Specialists from Child Protection, Police, Prosecutor's Office. January–December 2018.  Approval by Research Ethics Committee of the University of Tartu (275T-6). Principal investigators: Koidu Saia, Kiira Gornischeff
  • Development project The Networking Lab: Increasing Staff and Students' Motivation for International Mobility. April 25–26, 2018. Funded by Tallinn University Development and Co-operation Fund. Coordinator: Karmen Toros
  • Conference on Family Engagement in Child Protective Assessment. Consultations and the Intensive Seminar. May 18–25, 2018. Funded by BAFF Baltic-American Dialogue Program. Coordinator: Karmen Toros
  • Study on Family Engagement in Child Protection Assessment Practices: Reflections from Child Protection Workers. June 2016–October 2016. Funded by Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs. Principal investigator: Karmen Toros


Selected scientific articles

Toros, K. (2019). Social work graduate students’ understanding of strength-eliciting questions in the context of social work assessment. The European Journal of Social Work, 22(3), 412−422.

Sindi, I., Strömpl, J. & Toros., K. (2019). The Estonian way of deinstitutionalisation. Staff members’ perspective on residential substitute care. Experiences from an ethnography research in an Estonian SOS Children`s Village. Child & Youth Services, 39, 305−332.

Saia, K., Toros, K., DiNitto, D.M., Leino, M., Sindi, I. & Tersteegen, E. (2019). Juvenile offender rehabilitation in Estonia: interprofessional collaboration in written assessments and specialists’ perceptions. European Journal of Social Work, 22(1), 121−133.

Toros, K. (2019). Child protection workers’ reflections of child engagement within child protection practice assessment contexts. In: The Child Welfare System: Perspectives, Challenges and Future Directions. Nova Science Publishers.

Toros, K. & LaSala, M. (2018). Estonian child protection workers’ assessment perspectives: The need for competence and confidence. International Social Work, 61(1), 93−105.

Toros, K., DiNitto, D.M. & Tiko, A. (2018). Family engagement in the child welfare system: A scoping review. Children and Youth Services Review, 88, 598−607.

Arbeiter, E. & Toros, K. (2017). Participatory discourse: Engagement in the context of child protection assessment practices from the perspectives of child protection workers, parents and children. Children and Youth Services Review, 74, 17−27.

Streimann, K., Trummal, A., Klandorf, K., Akkermann, K., Sisask, M., Toros, K. & Selart, A. (2017). Effectiveness of a universal classroom-based preventive intervention (PAX GBG): A research protocol for a matched-pair cluster-randomized controlled trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, 8, 75−84.

Toros, K., LaSala, M. & Tiko, A. (2017). Assessment of the developmental needs of children in need: Estonian child protective workers’ case reflections. Child & Family Social Work, 22(2), 843−852.

Välba, E., Toros, K. & Tiko, A. (2017). Family engagement within the context of assessment in child protection practice: The case of Estonia. Child & Family Social Work, 22(4), 1506−1514.

Arbeiter, E. & Toros, K. (2017). Parental engagement in child protection assessment: A qualitative analysis of worker and parent perspectives. International Social Work, 60(6), 1469−1481.

Toros, K. (2017). Child protective workers’ reflections on principles underpinning the assessment of children in need: The case of Estonia. International Social Work, 6(5), 1255−1267.

Researchers at Tallinn University


International researchers and partners


Contact information

Research group coordinator: professor Karmen Toros,