Researchers: Nina Biehal, Sarah Ellison, Ian Sinclair
Funder: Department for Children, School and Families
Duration: October 2004 to February 2009
This study drew on the team's earlier work on foster care* to investigate three types of permanent placement: adoption by strangers, adoption by foster carers, long-term foster care
The aim of the study was to compare these three types of permanent placement for children in care and to investigate the outcomes for children placed in each of these settings. This longitudinal study followed up children who were in foster care in 1998/1999 and who, three years later, were still settled in the same foster placement or had been adopted (either by a stranger or by their foster carer). The sample included 196 children who were surveyed by means of a postal questionnaire to their carers/adoptive parents and current/last social worker. In-depth interviews were also conducted with 37 children and their foster carers or adoptive parents. The study assessed the uses and outcomes of long-term foster care, adoption by carers and adoption by strangers, comparing:
- placement stability
- children’s psychosocial functioning and educational progress
- planning for permanence, including factors which promote or inhibit the use of adoption
- the nature of contact with birth families
- children and carers’ perceptions of permanence, belonging and contact
- local policy on permanence for children in care.
The study provided valuable, comparative data on three alternative permanent placements which helped to guide policy and practice on planning for and supporting permanent placements and on improving outcomes for children in care.
Publications and presentations
A sense of belonging: meanings of family and home in long-term foster care, (forthcoming)
Biehal, N., British Journal of Social work, (Available online from 25th November 2012). Outcomes for fostered children. Plenary.
Biehal, N., How is it Working for Children? Developments in Fostering Conference, London, 14 March 2012. Outcomes of adoption: findings from research in England, 2012
Biehal, N., pp.42-44 in Quatrieme Colloque Suisse sur l'adoption Internationale, Bundesamt fur Justiz. Outcomes of adoption: findings from research in England. Keynote.
Biehal, N., What are the Outcomes for Adopted Children Conference?, Zurich, Switzerland, 1 March 2012. Understanding outcomes for fostered children: what makes a difference? Invited.
Biehal, N., Looked After Children Seminar, Douglas, Isle of Man, 26 October 2012. Understanding outcomes for fostered children: what makes a difference? Invited.
Biehal, N., Centre for Social Work, University of Nottingham Seminar, Centre for Social Work, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, 9 November 2012. 2011
Contact in long-term foster care. Keynote.
Biehal, N., 5th International Network Conference on Foster Care Research, University of Graz, Graz, Austria, 19-21 September 2011. Outcomes in long-term foster care and adoption
Biehal, N., Adoption Research Initiative: A Synthesis of the Findings from Seven Studies, Making Research Count Research Briefings Seminar, University of York, 3 March 2011. Permanence and progress in foster care and adoption. Keynote.
Biehal, N., The Child's Journey Through Care Conference, Edinburgh, 13 May 2011. Permanence, progress and belonging in long-term foster care. Keynote.
Biehal, N., Fostering in Today's World - Permanency, Progress and Belonging Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 13 October 2011. 2010
Belonging and permanence. Outcomes in long-term foster care and adoption
Biehal, N., Permanent Placements, Making Research Count Seminar, University of York , 8 June 2010. Comparing long-term foster-care and adoption: perceptions of belonging
Biehal, N., International Conference on Adoption Research (ICAR3), University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 14 July 2010. Permanence, progress and belonging: comparing long-term foster care and adoption
Biehal, N., Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Services for Children and Families Conference, Innocenti Institute, Florence, Italy, 29 September 2010. Successful permanent placements: lessons from research
Biehal, N., Can State Care Transform Children's Lives?, British Association for Adoption and Fostering 30th Anniversary Conference, Leeds, 3 December 2010. What affects the stability of long-term foster care?
Biehal, N., Inside Out: How Interventions in Child and Family Care Work, European Scientific Association on Residential and Foster Care 11th Biennial International Conference, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 24 September 2010. Belonging and Permanence: Outcomes in long-term foster care and adoption, 2010
Biehal, N., Ellison, S., Baker, C. and Sinclair, I., BAAF. 2009
Characteristics, outcomes and meanings of three types of permanent placement - adoption by strangers, adoption by carers and long-term foster care, 2009
Biehal, N., Ellison, S., Baker, C. and Sinclair, I., DCSF Research Brief, DCSF-RBX-09-11, Department for Children, Schools and Families. 2008
Comparing the outcomes of permanent placements
Biehal, N., Adoption Research Initiative Seminar, London, 8-9 December 2008. 2005
York Research on Foster Care and Adoption, 2005
Baker, C., Sinclair, I. & Wilson, K. , Social Work Research and Development Unit.
The Government's latest guidance on adoption Adoption Guidance. Adoption and Children Act 2002, First revision: February 2011, Department for Education (2011) references this project's work on pages 68 and 84. The reference is to the internal report of this research, which is named 'Adoption Research Initiative study Characteristics, Outcomes and Meanings of Three Types of Permanent Placements - Adoption by Strangers, Adoption by Carers and Long-Term Foster Care' . This report was later published as the book (referenced above) Belonging and Permanence (2010).
*Sinclair, I. (2005) Fostering Now: Messages from Research, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.
Sinclair, I., Baker, C., Wilson, K., & Gibbs, I. (2005) Foster Children: Where They Go and How They Get On, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.
Sinclair, I., Wilson, K., & Gibbs, I. (2005) Foster Placements: Why They Succeed and Why They Fail, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.