The papers in the themed section emerge from the work of the ESRC Research Group on Care, Values and the Future of Welfare (CAVA), based at the University of Leeds. CAVA was funded from 1999 to undertake a five-year programme of research into changes in parenting and partnering in Britain and their implications for future social policies. At the heart of CAVA's research is an investigation into the values that people attach to their parenting and partnering activities. We are interested in ‘what matters’ to people in their family lives and personal relationships, especially as they undergo change. This question lay at the centre of our core empirical projects, all of which were based on in-depth qualitative research. (An account of our methodology may be found in the Appendix to this Introduction). The projects focused on different aspects of change: motherhood, care and employment; kin relationships after divorce; care and commitments in transnational families; practices of care and intimacy amongst those who live without a co-resident partner; and collective values of care and support in self-help groups, voluntary organisations and trade unions. Each of these projects is represented in the following collection.