Rise in adoptions may have peaked

Government policies to increase the number of adoptions may be
neither desirable nor achievable, a study commissioned by the
Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie) has found.

Scie’s knowledge review of research into foster care concludes
there is only “limited” potential for increasing the number of
adoptions. This is despite government programmes to make adoption
the priority plan for many children in care.

There were 5,680 adoptions in England in 2002 compared with 4,317
in 1999. But this rise may stall because of several factors. These
include the reluctance of older children to be adopted and family
rights issues for younger ones, the researchers conclude.

They also warn against assuming adoption is always best: “Most
studies confirm that older age is one factor associated with
disrupted placements. Below the age of 11, the younger the child at
placement, the more likely it is to be successful, with a breakdown
rate of 20 per cent of those placed at eight years old.”

The researchers speculate that reasons for high breakdowns of
problematic adoptions could be that there is less “competition”
among potential parents for harder-to-place children, higher
expectations and greater potential for disappointment among
adoptive parents. A lack of social work support for more difficult
cases might also play a role.

The researchers conclude that most foster children are generally
positive about the care they receive and that, despite initial
difficulties on leaving care, most go on to lead happy, productive
lives as adults.

– Fostering Success is available from www.scie.org.uk

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