Best practice in placing large sibling groups for adoption
- Funder: Sir Halley Stewart Trust
- Lead applicant: Hilary Saunders
- Co-researcher: Dr Julie Selwyn
- Research centre: Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies hosted by Family Policy and Child Welfare
- Dates: March 2009 - December 2010
It is widely recognised in policy and legislation that if children enter local authority care and cannot return to their parents, it is generally better for them to be fostered or adopted with their brothers and sisters. This is important because for many people sibling relationships can be the longest lasting relationship and can also provide continuity and support throughout life.
However, in reality, many siblings are separated permanently in the care system and by adoption. Of the 770 children referred to the Adoption Register for England and Wales from 1 December 2004 to 30 November 2005 for placement with their siblings, only 68 were actually placed together.
Some adoption agencies have built up considerable expertise in finding adopters for sibling groups. An analysis (Selwyn 2008) of 35 voluntary adoption agencies’ (VAAs) statistics (2001-200) identified agencies that have a good track record in placing large sibling groups, but also found a steep decline in the number of sibling groups referred by local authorities for placement.
The aim of this exploratory research project is
- to identify what makes it possible to place groups of three or more siblings successfully for adoption;
and to produce the following outputs:
- a good practice guide on placing sibling groups for adoption, which will be disseminated widely amongst social work practitioners;
- an article on the findings of the research for a peer reviewed journal, and
- a conference or seminar on sibling group placements.
Interviews will be conducted with social work staff in VAAs who had groups of three or more siblings placed with their adopters between 1st January 2006 and 31 December 2008. With the help of the Adoption Register and Be My Parent we also hope to identify and arrange interviews with local authorities who have had large sibling groups placed with their own adopters. Face to face interviews will also be conducted with adopters who have adopted large sibling groups. In addition, the following standardized measures will be used with adopters: the General Health Questionnaire and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.