OBJECTIVES To describe a five year cohort of children whose placements for adoption or long term (permanent) fostering were recommended by Newcastle upon Tyne Family Placement Panel and to determine the outcome of these placements.
DESIGN Retrospective total five year cohort study. Outcome data were extracted from records three to five years after placement.
SETTING Newcastle upon Tyne Social Services Adoption and Fostering Unit.
SUBJECTS All 234 permanent family placements recommended by the Family Placement Panel from 1 January 1986 to 31 December 1990.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE Disruption of the placement.
RESULTS A total of 20% of the placements had disrupted (2% of adoptive placements and 51% of long term fostering placements). Disruption was generally associated with increased age at placement. Disruption was not associated with special needs, the sex of the child, previous disruption, or being placed with siblings. Forty four per cent of children from disrupted placements returned to live with their birth families.
CONCLUSIONS In view of the poor outcome for older children, there is a case for more preventative work and also for more support after placement.
Almost all children under 4 years of age placed for permanence remained with the new family
Over half of the ‘permanent’ family placements of children over 7 years old disrupted
More preventative work is needed to reduce the number of children needing placement
Families taking older children need more support after placement
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