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Family Finding and Matching in Adoption: What Helps to Make a Good Match?

Farmer, E and Dance, C (2015) Family Finding and Matching in Adoption: What Helps to Make a Good Match? British Journal of Social Work. ISSN 0045-3102

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Abstract

This study compared the effectiveness and outcomes of different family finding methods in adoption in England, over-selecting harder to place children. The case files of 149 children with adoption recommendations in ten local authorities were reviewed and a sub-sample of sixty-seven cases were followed in real time, through interviews with professionals and families until six months after adoptive placement. Most matches were of good quality, but 14 per cent were fair and 13 per cent poor, involving serious compromises on matching requirements or adopters' preferences. There were more poor matches when in-house placements were made or children's difficulties were underplayed with new parents and, necessarily, more compromises were made when matching children with significant health or developmental needs. More good quality matches were made when case responsibility was transferred early to the adoption team. Poorer quality matches were related to poorer outcomes six months after adoptive placement. To improve matching, searches for families need to be widened early to avoid delays and to maximise the pool of adopters. Formal processes to track and review the progress of adoptions for children with complex needs (including matching meetings) can help avoid delay and ensure that a group of professionals, rather than an individual professional, makes key decisions.

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