ADOPTION AND SPECIAL GUARDIANSHIP ENGLAND DATA PACK March 2011
2Purpose of this data pack Adoption is an important permanent placement option. For some children, special guardianship can be more appropriate alternative. This pack: o summarises national data about adoption and special guardianship; o illustrates variations in outcomes by local authority (LA); o is intended to help LAs, local stakeholders, Children in Care Councils, potential adopters and others to assess the effectiveness of the service delivery in adoption and special guardianship in relation to the national picture. No single chart tells a complete story: an LA placing some of the most challenging children may take longer to place them. But, for example, low figures for placing older children, and for black and minority ethnic children are a matter of concern, and raise some unexpected questions.
3…continued Individual LA data can be found at: http://www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000960/index.shtml. Local authority names have been omitted from this pack to prevent identification of children in small authorities. Most of the data are averaged over three years as figures for one year are prone to fluctuations where numbers are small. The data on adoption and special guardianship relates ONLY to children who were looked after. Decisions on adoption are influenced by local policy and practice and differing professional views on the benefits of adoption for particular looked after children. The Adoption Research Initiative (ARi) study ‘The characteristics, outcomes and meanings of four types of permanent placement’ gives further information on planning for permanence. See the Summary at http://www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk/study1.html. We welcome feedback and suggestions on how the pack might be developed to support LAs and other stakeholders to review and improve local performance such that adoption is made available for ALL children who would benefit from adoption as their permanence plan; and that delay and barriers are removed.
Since 1999 the number of children adopted from care has increased substantially. 4But adoption numbers have fallen slightly in recent years. The combined numbersleaving care for adoption and special guardianship are at their highest ever level but mayhave plateaued. Children who cease to be looked after1 through adoption and special guardianship2 - 1999 to 2010 Adoption and 5,000 Children Act 2002 (in force Special Guardianship 4,500 December introduced 2005) 4,000 3,500 Government Review of 3,000 Adoption 2,500 2,000 1,500 1,000 500 0 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Adopted Special Guardianship New statutory guidance on adoption launched in February 2011 promoting adoption as an 1. Only the final occasion in which a child ceases to be looked after is counted. important permanence option for children 2. Special Guardianships were introduced for the first time in 2005-06. A concern is that the number of children placed for adoption fell from 2,700 to 2,300 in 2009-10.
In the last three years, 9,600 children in England ceased to be looked after through 5adoption and 3,600 through special guardianship. Children who ceased to be looked after through adoption and special guardianship in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2010 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Local Authorities Adopted - all Special guardianship - all Four LAs, including two very small ones, had no SGOs at all during the last three years, but for eleven others special guardianship is as well used, or more used, than adoption.
Children leaving care through adoption or special guardianship are more likely to 6have entered care due to abuse or neglect than the overall LAC populations. Looked after children as at 31 March 2010 and children who ceased to be looked after in the year ending 31 March 2010 by the reasons1 entering care2 All looked after children at 31 March 2010 61 3 4 9 12 20 8 Adopted in 2009-10 70 1 4 9 12 0 5 Special guardianship in 2009-10 70 1 7 7 13 01 Leaving care for any other reason in 2009-10 47 4 4 12 15 5 0 14 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Abuse or neglect Childs disability Parents illness or disability Family in acute stress Family dysfunction Socially unacceptable behaviour Low income Absent parenting1. The most applicable category of the eight "Need Codes" at the time the child started to be looked after rather than the entire reason they are looked after.2. Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after is counted. This is likely to reflect the fact that adopted children tend to enter care at a younger age and younger children are more likely to enter care due to abuse or neglect.
Nationally adopted children are 5% of looked after children but locally this varies 7from 1 to 10%. Why? How does adoption fit with other local services for children? Adopted children1 as a percentage of all looked after children2 at 31 March 2008, 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2010 (3 year average)3 12 10 10 LAs 17 LAs 8 32 LAs Percentage 6 36 LAs 38 LAs 9 LAs 4 2 0 ENGLAND Local Authorities 1. Looked after children who were adopted in the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2010. 2. The totals of all looked after children as at 31 March 2008, 31 March 2009 and 31 March 2010. Figures exclude children under a series of short term placements. 3. One LA did not have any adopted children or looked after children during this period. Three LAs have been suppressed due to small numbers. Local authority figures vary between 1% and 10%. Decisions about adoption must therefore have been influenced by local policy and practice, and different views about which looked after children might benefit from adoption.
33% of children who left care aged 0 to 4 did so through adoption and 9% through 8special guardianship. How are LAs encouraging the use of special guardianship orders(SGOs)? Children who ceased to be looked after1,2 during the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2010 by reason - Ages 0 to 43 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Local Authorities ENGLAND Adopted Special guardianship Returned home to live with parents or relatives All other reasons 1. Only the last occasion in which a child ceased to be looked after has been counted. 2. Figures exclude children looked after under a series of short term placements. 3. Age at the time of ceasing. There is evidence of another large range of LA variation on adopted children for these ages – between 15% and 62%. The largest percentage of children aged 0 to 4 leaving through special guardianship in an authority was 21%.
Fewer 5 to 17 year olds who left care did so through either adoption (7%) or special 9guardianship (5%). Is the SGO figure surprising, given that it was intended for olderchildren? Why do some LAs place substantially more older children for adoption? Children who ceased to be looked after1,2 during the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2010 by reason - Ages 5 to 173 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Local Authorities ENGLAND Adopted Special guardianship Returned home to live with parents or relatives All other reasons 1. Only the last occasion in which a child ceased to be looked after has been counted. 2. Figures exclude children looked after under a series of short term placements. 3. Age at the time of ceasing. The highest proportion of children in this age range in any LA who left care through adoption was 21%. Two authorities achieved special guardianship for at least 15% of their looked after children. Eleven LAs had no SGOs for children aged 5 to 17.
10Which children leave care for adoption orspecial guardianship? Over the most recent three years, 74% of the children adopted from care were under 5, 26% were aged from 5 to 12 and just 1% over 12. By contrast, 51% of SGOs were for children under 5, 39% were aged 5 to 12 and 10% were over 12. In 2009-10, 14 local authorities had no children leave care through special guardianship. However, three of these authorities were very small. The Adoption Research Initiative (ARi) study ‘The characteristics, outcomes and meanings of four types of permanent placement’ gives further information on Special Guardianship. See: http://www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk/study1.htm
11Are children being placed as quickly as possible? ADOPTION FLOWCHART – The process for the child Day One Child starts to be looked after (s.20, ICO or EPO) Care planning by the local authority considers placement option – i.e. family first, then permanence outside family (including adoption) Four months The child’s need for a permanent home is addressed by the 4 month review If the permanence plan for the child becomes adoption, the case is referred to the Adoption Panel within six weeks of the review Six months Panel considers case and makes recommendations to the local authority decision maker within 2 months of the review Decision maker decides whether to accept recommendation that the child is suitable for adoption within 7 days of the Panel’s recommendation Placement Order application made to court by the Local Authority (where it is then considered as part of the care proceedings) 12 months Court makes placement order (and care order) 18 months Child placed by local authority with prospective adopters within 12 months of decision maker’s decision Prospective adopters (at least 10 weeks later) make Adoption Order application Court holds adoption hearing, considers case and makes Adoption Order if in best interests of the child
Average timescales between the various stages in the adoption process during the years ending 31 12 March 2008-10How long does it take? ENGLAND 6 months 1 year 18 months 2 years 3 years 4 yearsStatutory guidance says that a childshould be placed within 12 months of thedecision that he or she should beadopted. That decision should be madewithin six months of the child enteringcare. Local AuthoritiesOn average, over 3 years, children wereplaced for adoption 20 months afterentering care, but LA figures ranged from9 to 33 months.47 authorities placed children foradoption within 18 months of enteringcare, on average, but without necessarilyadhering to the timetable for earlierstages of the adoption process. 0 200 400 600 800 1,000 1,200 1,400 1,600 Days Days between entry into care and decision that child should be placed for adoption Days between decision that child should be placed for adoption and matching of child and adopters Days between date of matching and date placed for adoption Days between date placed for adoption and date child adopted
Statutory guidance says that an adoption placement should be made within 12 13months of the decision to place a child for adoption but 25% of placements took longerthan this. Some may fall into the most challenging groups. Proportion of looked after children placed for adoption within 12 months1,2,3 of the decision and at subsequent 3-monthly intervals during the period 1 March 2007 to 31 March 2010 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Local Authorities ENGLAND Proportion placed within 12 months Proportion placed 12 to 15 months Proportion placed 15 to 18 months Proportion placed 18 to 21 months Proportion placed 21 to 24 months Proportion placed 24 to 27 months Proportion placed 27 to 30 months Proportion placed over 30 months 1. The cohort for these figures are children who ceased to be looked after as a result of the granting of an adoption order. These figures exclude children who were placed for adoption but whose placement broke down before being adopted. Children that were adopted but were not placed for adoption are not included in this analysis. 2. Local Authority names have been omitted to prevent the possibility of calculating sensitive values from previously published figures. 3. Percentages have been derived from unrounded values. Five Local Authorities placed all children in the last three years within 12 months of the decision, however 8% of children adopted nationally were still not placed after two years. Some LA figures are based on very small numbers so should be treated with caution.
14Some 40 children nationally (1.4%) werenot placed within three years in 2010The data indicate that longer placement times are especially apparent for: black children (not mixed ethnicity); older children; children adopted by a sole adopter; London local authorities (three London authorities had more than 10 per cent of children waiting more than three years to be placed between 2008 and 2010).It is not known how many children with an adoption recommendation are never placed for adoption.
15Why is adoption delayed? For further information on the causes of delay, the impact of delay and suggestions for reducing delay see the summaries of the following ARi studies: ‘The characteristics, outcomes and meanings of four types of permanent placement’ ‘Protecting and promoting the well-being of very young children’ ‘Family finding and matching in adoption’ ‘Pathways to permanence for children of black, Asian and mixed ethnicity’ ‘Adoption and the Inter-agency fee’ http://www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk/
Adoption and ethnicity: Black children take longer to be adopted after 16entering care than children of other ethnicities Average timescales between stages in the adoption process during the year ending 31 March 2010 by ethnicity Average age of 1 year 2 years 3 years entry into care 1 year OTHER 5 months OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS 4 months BLACK OR BLACK BRITISH 10 months ASIAN OR ASIAN BRITISH 8 months MIXED 9 months 1 year WHITE 5 months 1 year ALL CHILDREN 4 months 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 Days Days between entry into care and decision that child should be placed for adoption Days between decision that child should be placed for adoption and matching of child and adopters Days between date of matching and date placed for adoption Days between date placed for adoption and date child adopted Average age entry into care White children who are adopted tend to have entered care older than adopted children from other ethnic groups but then take a similar length of time to become adopted.
White and mixed ethnicity children are more likely to leave care through adoption 17than black and Asian children in the same age range. Proportion of looked after children aged 0 to 4 who ceased to be looked after through adoption during the year ending 31 March 2010 by ethnicity 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% WHITE MIXED ASIAN OR ASIAN BRITISH BLACK OR BLACK BRITISH OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS OTHER For children who are the subject of a reversal of an adoption decision, the decision has been made more quickly for black and minority ethnic (BME) children than for white children in the most recent year.
18What does research say about minority ethnic children?The ARi study ‘Pathways to permanence for children of black, Asian and mixed ethnicity’ found: There was no systematic bias against minority ethnic children by social services but differences in decision making and outcomes suggest that social workers weren’t sure how best to address the interests of these children. The majority of the minority ethnic children in the sample were of mixed ethnicity and tended to have white mothers with very little extended family support and adverse current circumstances. The most important predictor of adoption, however, was the child’s age at the time of adoption. There was a shortage of minority ethnic adopters, particularly for older children, because of low numbers of minority ethnic adults in the community and adopters’ preference for infants. Black and Asian children were least likely to be adopted, possibly due to an overly narrow approach to matching. The small group of black children tended to be older than the other ethnic sub-samples which affected their likelihood of adoption. The Asian children also waited longer for an adoption recommendation as Izzat (‘family honour’) played a role in the impetus to relinquish or abandon children. Professional disagreement over `same race’ placements sometimes arose when white foster carers applied to adopt minority ethnic children who they had cared for since birth and/or where attachments had formed between the carers and the child.http://www.adoptionresearchinitiative.org.uk/summaries/ARi_summary_6.pdf.
19Reversal of adoption decisionsIn certain circumstances, the decision to place a child for adoption can be reversed. This can be for good reasons. However: In the year ending 31 March 2010, 340 children in England were the subject of an adoption decision that had been reversed. The most common reason for a reversal of an adoption decision was that the child’s needs changed subsequent to the decision (120 cases) 10 per cent of children waited less than six months after the decision for reversal but 47% waited more than two years and 29% more than three years. Nearly half of local authorities reported no adoption decision reversals but seven authorities reported more than ten reversals. For children who are the subject of a reversal of an adoption decision, the decision has been made more quickly for black and minority ethnic (BME) children than for white children in the most recent year. This information was published for the first time in 2010 and so should be treated with caution.
Around half of the children whose adoption decision was reversed in the last year, 20had that decision reversed within two years. The rest waited longer. Children for whom the local authority has reversed the decision that the child should be placed for adoption during the year ending 31 March 2010 by reason for reversal and duration before reversal 100% 5% 90% 8% 26% 29% 80% 39% 70% 32% 17% 60% 26% 18% 50% 24% 23% 40% 20% 29% 30% 19% 20% 16% 30% 10% 19% 12% 7% 0% 0% The childs needs changed subsequent to The court did not make a placement order Prospective adopters cannot be found Any other reason decision Under 6 months From 6 months to under 1 year From 1 year to under 2 years From 2 years to under 3 years 3 years and over Nationally, there were 120 reversals due to the child’s needs changing and 70 reversals where prospective adopters could not be found. (The number of reversals due to court decisions is not included, to avoid the risk of identification of children in small groups.)
But the vast majority of children placed for adoption remain in the same placement 21and go on to be adopted. Outcomes after three years for children placed for adoption at 31 March 2007 0% <0.5% 1% 0% <0.5% 2% 3% 0% <0.5% 0% <0.5% 2% 11% stayed in that placement and adopted in 2007-08 stayed in that placement and adopted in 2008-09 stayed in that placement and adopted in 2009-10 moved to another placement and adopted in 2007-08 moved to another placement and adopted in 2008-09 moved to another placement and adopted in 2009-10 placed for adoption in the same placement at 31 March 2010 placed for adoption in a different placement at 31 March 2010 still looked after but not placed for adoption left care but not adopted 81% Around 4% in total change placements and 15% of children were not adopted after a year despite remaining in the same placement. 8% of children were not adopted within two years and 5% were not adopted within three years.