Research Update December 2015

Research Update December 2015 Recently published

SCRA: Permanence Planning and Decision Making for Looked After Children in Scotland

The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration’s (SCRA) has published a new report, commissioned by Scottish Government, to assess progress since the implementation of the 2007 Act. The researchers analysed data from SCRA records and Sheriff Courts on 200 looked after children across Scotland who went on to have direct adoptions, POAs or POs. They also carried out interviews and focus groups in four local authorities. The authors highlighted the use of permanence orders across Scotland, but not for all children who might benefit from them; the geographical differences in legal routes to adoption; and concerns about multiple moves for a significant minority of children.

In terms of timescales, the authors noted: “For over 90% of children in this research it took over 2 years from their first involvement with services to the Order being made at court. It is the early stages of care and permanence planning following the child being accommodated that take the longest time in the overall process.”

The full report, and a supplementary report on those children identified as at risk before or at birth, are available from:

Education of Looked After Children (England)

The Rees Centre, University of Oxford and the University of Bristol recently published a new report on their mixed methods study the Educational Progress of

Looked After Children in England.

They found that children who had shorter periods

of being looked after did less well in educational progress than those who had longer periods of being looked after. Both looked after groups had better outcomes than children ‘in need’ but not in care. This pattern tended to remain steady across age


Although drawing on a different educational context, the study is significant because it disputes the idea that being looked after contributes to poor educational outcomes.

Instead, the argument that care can, under the right circumstances, be a

factor for educational outcomes is a step on from research that


has focused on the

'achievement gap' between looked after children and the

general school population.

For the first time, this study linked national (England) education data and looked after

children's data.

For the full report see the Rees Centre website or request hard copies by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

New and recently launched projects

Assessment and support of the sibling relationships of long-term fostered and adopted children (Scotland/UK)

Dr. Christine Jones (University of Strathclyde) and Dr. Gillian Henderson (SCRA) are leading a study of sibling relationships in long-term foster care and adoption. They will examine the patterns of placements of siblings (together and apart) in care and as they move into permanent placements; decision-making about placements of siblings and subsequent contact arrangements; the aspects of their relationships that fostered and adopted siblings value and how services and carers can best support these.

The research will analyse data from: Children’s Hearings Scotland case records, focus groups with professionals and interviews with siblings (aged 12 – 18 years) in long- term fostering or adoptive placements and their carers/adopters.The study will seek to influence the assessment and decision-making processes used by professionals regarding sibling placements and contact arrangements.

Infant domestic adoption: what happens across the lifespan? (UK)

A recent study has been funded by The Nuffield Foundation to examine the long- term consequences of infant domestic adoption. The study, based at King's College, London, is being carried out by Professor Barbara Maughan, Rukmen Sehmi and Dr Alan Rushton, with support from Margaret Grant.

The study will use already-collected data from two UK sources (National Child Development Study 1958 and British Cohort Study 1970) to compare the lives of adopted adults in their 40s and 50s with their non-adopted peers. It builds on previous research that examined adopted and non-adopted adults in their early 30s. A range of indicators will be used to explore well-being in mid-life, including socio-economic circumstances, intimate and family relationships, social support and physical and mental health. As the datasets are longitudinal, the research will explore which birth and childhood factors are related to responses in mid-adulthood.

Journals and conferences

Adoption & Fostering Journal

The September issue was a special edition on Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, including articles on:

• •

the neuroscience on prenatal alcohol exposure and enduring damage to cognition, planning and self-control (WA Phillips, Stirling University)
the Scottish Government’s approach (Margaret Watts, NHS Western Isles)

a recent study of UK health professionals’ understanding of FASD and future needs for training and support.

The December issue includes articles on:

  • odour and adoptive family life (following the Selwyn disruption study)

  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (Dan Hughes et al)

  • the use of standardised assessment tools in adoption support assessments.

    International Conference on Adoption Research

    ICAR5 will take place in January 2016 in New Zealand: Researchers from around the world will present their work. We will report back on the latest international developments in the next AFA Scotland Research Update.

AFA Scotland is registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) - SC046417