The DCSF has published a research briefing looking at how successful adoption and long-term foster care is for children in providing security and permanence, and promoting positive outcomes.
The conclusions are summarised below.
This study has shown that the experience of longterm,stable foster care may be very positive. Although it cannot give legal security, long-term foster care may provide emotional security and a sense of permanence to children. The problem remains, however, that although long-term foster care can offer permanence, in practice it may fail to do so. However, it is important to take account of the fact that children typically enter their permanent placements in foster care at a significantly later age than adopted children:
- Timely decision-making and timely planning for permanence are essential to enable children to enter their permanent placements as early as possible. This may enhance both the likelihood of placement stability and,where this is in children’s best interests, the chance of adoption This has implications both for children’s services and the courts;
- Carer adoption gives later-placed children a chance of adoption. It is important, where it is appropriate for the child, for carers to be encouraged and supported to obtain a legal order , for example residence, special guardianship or adoption;
- Placement quality is as important as placement stability.
You can download the research brief.