Pathways to permanence for black, Asian and mixed ethnicity children: Dilemmas, decision making and outcomes

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Summary

Recent research reviews stress the lack of information on permanency planning and pathways to permanence for black and minority ethnic (BME) children. Even basic data are missing and there are no available comparisons between children of different ethnicities. Delays differentially affect and disadvantage children of minority ethnic heritage but, beyond speculation, there are no data on the processes that underlie delays for them.

In this study differential planning and decision-making affecting the progress of BME children towards permanence will be compared retrospectively from case files with that of non-BME children over a two-year period in a sample of approximately 106 children looked-after continuously for over one year in three local authorities with high and contrasting BME populations. Progress towards permanence following a recent or current best-interests recommendation will also be tracked prospectively in a separate sample of approximately 200 BME children. For fifty of these, decision-making will be followed in real-time. Case-file data and interviews with social workers and their managers will be used. The outcomes for children of black, Asian and mixed heritages will be compared.

There will be two additional outputs: a conceptual and research review of matching – a likely key element in delay and differential pathways-; and a scoping review of current practice models for the recruitment and support of BME parents for BME children for whom permanence is the aim.

This study will provide essential new information relevant to the policy objectives of increasing the use of adoption as a permanency solution for children unlikely to return to their own families and reducing the delays in this process. With respect to the brief for this initiative, the study will:

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