Finding adoptive families for black, asian and black mixed-parentage children
Press release issued: 7 September 2004
Lack of data to inform planning by local authorities, the impact of racism and the persistence of myths about the kinds of people that can adopt stand in the way of changing the lives of many black, Asian and black mixed-parentage children currently in care reveals NCH research.
The research on Finding adoptive families for black, Asian and black mixed-parentage children was commissioned by NCH, funded by the result of a collaboration between the charity and ScottishPower and conducted by the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, University of Bristol. It confirms the need for more black, Asian and black mixed-parentage adults and those in mixed relationships to come forward, and for statutory and voluntary adoption agencies to radically improve the policy and practice they employ to recruit prospective adopters.
NCH Family Placement Advisor, Linda Plummer elaborates: "The research verifies that despite agencies knowing for at least 15 years that greater efforts need to be made to recruit adopters from all minority ethnic communities, there is a worrying shortfall in the numbers approved.
"For example, the study highlights that in November 2003, if all the 'potential' and 'viable' links identified by the national adoption register for black, Asian and mixed-parentage children and adopters had converted into placements, the entire pool of adopters would have been absorbed but 150 children would have been unmatched"
The study also considers why black, Asian and black mixed-parentage children are less likely than white children to be found an adoptive family - and more likely to remain in the care system. Hadley Centre's researcher, Julie Selwyn says: "What hasn't been well recognised is the effect of demography on statutory and voluntary agencies' chances of finding suitable adopters for children from ethnic minority communities who are waiting.
"For example, 63% of the mixed white/black Caribbean population in the UK are children compared with 22% of the white population. Many ethnic minority communities have very young populations and therefore the number of potential adopters within a local authority area may only be very small."
Dominic Fry, Group Director Corporate Communications, ScottishPower said: "We serve diverse communities throughout the UK and US and our local programmes aim to help provide opportunities for all. ScottishPower funded the research to provide vital information to help improve the chances of finding a home for young people who deserve the best possible chance in life".
The research also reveals that:
- the impact of racism has affected people's willingness to approach agencies.
- minority ethnic children comprise 18 per cent of all the children in care in the UK and 22 per cent of children on the national adoption register, but only 13 per cent of those adopted.
- the scarcity of potential adopters is made worse by the problems of poverty, poor housing and language barriers.
- finding adopters for black mixed-parentage children poses particular challenges for agencies, because of the children's sometimes-complex heritage.
- where agencies had recruited more minority ethnic social work staff, there had been an increase in applicants.
Also, NCH and the Hadley Centre have drawn on this research to develop a best practice guide, which outlines the issues that agencies must address if looking to recruit prospective adopters from ethnic minority communities.
As a result, the charity is urging all statutory and voluntary agencies to:
- place children at the heart of recruitment activity
- collect better information about local populations
- build a strong reputation within the community
- critically review agency practice
- develop proactive recruitment strategies.
- promote the importance of diversity in adoption across all sectors of the service.
- understand the recruitment process from an adopters point of view
The Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, based in the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, aims to promote best practice in the field of adoption, foster care and placement with kin by linking research, practice and training in order to provide these children with stable and predictable family experiences.
Adults interested in adopting through NCH should call 0845 355 5533 (calls charged at a local rate, open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday).
NCH, the children's charity is one of largest adoption agencies in the voluntary sector and has been working for over a decade to increase the numbers of adopters for black, Asian and black mixed-parentage children. www.nch.org.uk/adoption
NCH runs more than 500 projects for the UK's most vulnerable children, young people and their families and in doing so, supports over 140,000 people.