Adoption in Wales
14 November 2013
Researchers at Cardiff have received funding for two new research projects about children adopted from public care and the support needs of their new families.
The first project is commissioned by the Welsh Government which is currently reforming adoption in an attempt to avoid children having lengthy waits for families and to ensure that adoptive families have the support they need. A National Adoption Service is being established and will be operational from April 2014.
The aim of the National Adoption Service is to achieve excellence for adoption through securing high quality, family placements for looked after children for whom adoption is in their best interests. It will enhance the efficiency and quality of the assessment process; provide equity in the arrangements for adoption and encourage the pooling of prospective adopters.
To inform the work of the new service, Dr Heather Ottaway and Dr Sally Holland from the School of Social Sciences will map current post-adoption support services to establish whether all adoptive families in Wales have access to similar levels of services across the nation. They will also explore the needs and wishes of adoptive families to highlight which services they value most and any gaps in support. Support services include peer support groups, specialised parenting training and therapy. The research report, due in March 2014, will inform the development of an all-Wales approach to planning adoption support.
In a second study, due to start in 2014, an inter-disciplinary team of researchers will research the experiences of all children adopted in Wales in one year (2014-15), mapping their pre-adoption and post-adoption experiences and helping to uncover what informal and formal support helps adopted children thrive. With future funding waves, it will be possible to follow this group of children as they grow up, identifying what makes a difference and why some adoptive families require extra support.
Dr Katherine Shelton (School of Psychology), Dr Sally Holland and Dr Heather Ottaway (School of Social Sciences) and Dr Julie Doughty (Cardiff Law School) have been awarded £200,000 via a competitive bid by the Welsh Government's National Institute of Health and Social Care Research (NISCHR) to conduct the research.
327 children were adopted from care in Wales between 1st April 2012 and 30th March 2013, an increase of 33% on the previous year. During the recent National Adoption Week in the UK (4-8 November 2013) there was an emphasis on the need for potential parents from all walks of life to consider adoption in order to provide homes for the growing numbers of children for whom adoption is being seen as the right option.
Dr Sally Holland, Reader in Social Work at Cardiff University and one of the researchers on these two new projects, said: "Many adopted children have experienced early deprivation and will have additional support needs. It is therefore essential that research uncovers the best ways to help them settle into their new families and have the same opportunities as all children.
"There has been very little previous research on adoption in Wales and most research evidence comes from the United States or England. We are delighted that the Welsh Government is investing in the development of an evidence base on adoption in Wales."