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Melissa

Melissa Kaltner

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: New South Wales Social Welfare > Children Care And Protection
To understand the role of adoption in creating stability for children unable to live safely at home - Finland, Sweden, Norway, UK, Ireland, Spain
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The study findings were then synthesised to develop key recommendations for OOHC permanency and adoption practice in Australian settings. The recommendations arising from this analysis were as follows:

1. Given the aim of increasing placement stability, if suitable prospective adoptive placements are unavailable for children who may benefit from adoption, alternative forms of long-term care should always be utilised. This is essential to avoid inadvertently creating instability through identifying adoption as a goal for a child in the absence of suitable placements

2. Ensure all children receive permanency decisions that best meet their needs through the use of independent input in permanency planning, possibly utilising a Panel model

3. Evaluate and disseminate evidence on the stability of guardianship placements in Australian settings, and review guardianship policy and practice to identify means of promoting stability in these placements where necessary 

4. Adoption or permanency specific roles and teams are necessary to facilitate adoption from care

5. Changes in birth certifications currently undertaken in adoption orders should be reviewed with a view to accurate representation of birth and adoptive status

6. Matching children with appropriate carers is complex and requires well- developed systems that enable collaboration between jurisdictions to identify families best placed to meet individual children’s needs

7. Post-adoption support is a necessary component of adoption from care. Sub-recommendations to this end include:

  • For adoption to be equitable in its availability to children in care with carers willing to adopt, means tested allowances available to adopters could be considered to ensure no financial disincentive to adoption
  • Establishment of post-order supports are necessary to facilitate contact where this difficulties arise, provide referrals for post-adoptive services as necessary and undertake means testing of any abovementioned allowances available to carers
  • Ensure availability and accessibility of support services to birth parents alongside adoptive families and children
  • Training of workforce to develop specialist skills and knowledge required in post adoption support, including support for children, adoptive families and birth families
  • Prioritise education and healthcare access for children adopted from care.

8. Routine data linkage possibilities should be explored with relevant government departments to enable ease of access to outcome focused information

9. Research literacy and the integration of child outcomes focused evaluation as routinely accepted core child protection business is necessary to increase evidence informed practice.

A full description of the study background, aims and methodology are presented within this report. These are followed by results per jurisdiction, personal reflections and synthesis of key issues. Finally, key recommendations and their relevance for practice and outcomes for children in OOHC are identified and discussed.

Keywords: Out of home care, foster care, child protection, adoption, permanency

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