Why does it matter? International studies show adoption to be a more stable and improve outcomes for children who are permanently removed from their families. Many young children in care who will have to live their whole lives in unstable foster care: 12,293 children under 1 living in care and 8,443 children under five, 67% of children had been in continuous placement for 2 years or more and 87% had been in the same placement. Of these children many will never go home – 31,129 lived on finalised guardianship and 9,070 on third-party orders.
The solution: Practitioners must actively consider case plans for open adoption particularly when babies entering care are highly likely to stay there till age 18. Birth parents must be clear about their rights and timeframes for action. State Governments should model their adoption legislation on NSW and prioritise adoption from care.
What difference will it make? Up to a thousand children per year will have greatly improved placement stability (3%) and better educational and health outcomes. An adoption costs on average $230,000 compared to care costs of $688,000.
The solution: We need to refocus the National Framework especially in the areas of welfare ‘reform’ affecting family payments, child support, barriers to childcare and affordable housing. Practitioners must ensure that the assistance that they offer includes practical support.
Why does it matter? Since 2010-11 there has been an increase of 35% of children subject to a substantiation. One in five of these children are subject to multiple substantiations and the re-substantiation rate is currently 18.8% (AIHW 2014-15). Whilst 42,457 children were involved in substantiations- only 11,581 entered care during 2014-15, how safe is the environment for the remainder? We know that there is little evidence that significant abuse, neglect and entry to out of home care are prevented by early intervention services.
Barnardos Find-a-Family has been finalising adoptions for children in OOHC care since 1985, with approximately half of the children in the program exiting care through adoption. This presentation will explore the strategies that have supported Barnardos in achieving this goal and how these may assist other organisations.
The commitment and belief in adoption from Boards, senior management and operational staff is critical as a main driver of change and must be embedded in corporate plans and reflected in strategic plans and targets. Equally important is the ability of organisations to be proactive, to prepare for growth and change and identify barriers to achievement of goals. Centres and programs need to evolve and adjust their structure to meet future needs and consideration should be given to specialised teams which have a focus on achieving adoption.
Planning and reflection are the keys to success and must be a constant feature as organisations change and adapt to meet agency goals.