During the last ten years, there has been a new Adoption and Children Act (2002), regulations and guidance and a set of National Minimum Standards developed for all those involved in adoption.
Good quality assessments of children and adopters, careful matching of children’s needs and parenting capacity, and planned adoption support were recognised in the regulations and guidance, as essential for successful placements. While these improvements suggest that the number of adoption breakdowns should decrease, other factors such as the high turnover of social work staff and court delays could be working in the opposite direction.
Delays increase the risk of multiple moves in foster care, affect the development of secure attachments, and have been associated with the onset of mental health difficulties. In addition, the characteristics of children have been changing. More children have been entering care because of maternal drug/alcohol misuse, and the impact of such use during pregnancy and later parental neglect have detrimental developmental effects. Attachment difficulties/disorders and the impact of early trauma have all risen to prominence and been linked with placement disruption.
However, there has been no recent research on whether adoption breakdowns are increasing or decreasing. We also do not know how the rates of adoption breakdowns compare with breakdowns for children on other kinds of orders.
This research is intended to fill the gap in knowledge.
Funder: Department for Education.