From Care to Where? A Care Pathways and Outcomes Report for Practitioners explores the placements of the 374 children who were under five years old and in care in Northern Ireland in March 2000. Researchers followed their progress through foster care, adoption or return to birth parents.
In March 2000 none of these 374 children were adopted, but by 2004 38 per cent (140 children) had been adopted. In the same period the proportion of children in foster care fell from 61 per cent to 22 per cent.
The study - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - was conducted by the Institute of Child Care Research at Queen’s and funded by the Research and Development Office for Northern Ireland. It is the first study to look at an entire population of young people in a variety of care environments over a long period of time.
Dr Dominic McSherry from the Institute of Child Care Research said: "While the majority of children in Northern Ireland grow up in a safe and secure family environment, a minority face violence, abuse and neglect in their own homes, and the state has a duty to intervene on their behalf. Prior to 2000, very few children in care were adopted, but this report highlights a fundamental change in long-term placement practice.
“The report also highlights inconsistencies across Health Board areas in the types of long-term care placements chosen for children in care. A higher proportion of children in the Northern and Southern Board areas were adopted. In the Western Board area, children were more likely to be placed in foster care, whereas in the Eastern Board more children were returned to their birth parents.
“The needs of the child must be central to deciding the type of long-term care placement that child should receive, but the findings suggest that inconsistencies across Board areas appear to arise from differences in decision-making within Health Boards and Trusts. These inconsistencies must be addressed if we are to achieve a consistent service across Northern Ireland.
“Due to difficulties in contacting parents whose children had returned home from care, fewer parents from this group were involved in the study, compared with adoptive and foster parents. The study highlighted that a majority of parents in all three groups experience parenting stress. Parents of children who have returned home, however, have higher stress levels than foster or adoptive parents. Their children were also experiencing more emotional and behavioural difficulties.
"The report therefore recommends more targeted support services for all families, and the development of a dedicated support service for the parents of children who have returned home from care.
“The longer a child remains in care, the less likely it is that he or she will return to their birth parents. This is particularly true if they come from a lone parent family, or if their mother or father has a history of alcohol problems. Health authorities must ensure that long-term foster and adoptive parents are given the support and resources they need to care for those children who do not return home to birth parents. Lone parents and those with alcohol problems should also be given support to help prevent their children being taken into care.
“Children in care deserve to be placed in an environment that meets their specific needs and supports them through what must be a difficult time in their childhood. This report should help inform the decisions of those who determine what care pathway is most appropriate for each child, and help ensure that every child in Northern Ireland receives the long-term placement that allows them to achieve their full potential."
Jonathan Pearce, Director of Adoption UK, said: "Adoption UK welcomes the report and, in particular, its findings in relation to adoptive families. It welcomes the evidence that adoption is a beneficial outcome for children who cannot live in their birth families. Adoption UK is pleased to see evidence that backs its call for a regionalised adoption service along with support services available to adoptive families after, as well as before, adoption."
Alicia Toal, Project Co-ordinator of Voice of Young People in Care, said: "It is vital that policy makers have access to good quality locally-based research into the needs of this vulnerable group of children. Given current restructuring within Health and Social Care, targets to reduce the numbers of children coming into care, and recent media coverage of failings within children’s services, this report contains a number of important findings that policy makers must now consider when making decisions about the long-term care of younger children."
The report for practitioners is the first of three reports to be published on the study and is available at www.qub.ac.uk/cpo A report for parents, and another for children and young people, will be made available before the end of the year.
Anne-Marie Watson | alfa
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.
In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...
A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.
By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy