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Journal article

The emergence of team science: understanding the state of adoption research through social network analysis

Authors:
HAMILTON Catherine A., VACCA Raffaele, STACCIARINI Jeanne-Marie R.
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.369-390.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

The notion of team science has recently gained popularity in European and American health sciences reviewing the increasing evidence that scientific collaboration produces higher-impact research and that complex scientific problems are better investigated by interdisciplinary teams. While publication surveys indicate that adoption research is expanding, it has not been formally evaluated for collaborative and cross-disciplinary activity. This article aims to elucidate the structure, composition and dynamics of scientific relationships within adoption studies that may inform research and practice strategies, competencies and cohesion within the field. Using social network analysis, the authors extracted data on 2767 peer-reviewed adoption-related articles from the 1930s to 2014 and evaluated the resulting co-authorship and co-citation networks. The authors found that adoption research has grown substantially over the last 25 years and is conducted in varied disciplines, with increasing collaboration across geography and disciplinary areas. As a result, the co-authorship and co-citation networks are approaching numeric thresholds and structural configurations distinctive of well-established and more institutionalised fields of study. These findings reveal the maturation of adoption studies as a team science and argue for the development of institutional mechanisms that support such evolution. Implications for professional and research planning are discussed. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

A historical review of the concept of severe and multiple disadvantage and responses to it

Authors:
PARKER Roy, BULLOCK Roger
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.307-330.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Roy Parker, who died in January 2017, was one of the first researchers to study foster care and adoption and was Chair of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF – now CoramBAAF) for six years from 1980. One of his last projects was a historical review of the concept of severe and multiple disadvantage and responses to it. At a time when 13.5 million people, including 30 (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

A systematic review of the school performance and behavioural and emotional adjustments of children adopted from care

Authors:
BROWN Andrew, WATERS Cerith S., SHELTON Katherine H.
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.346-368.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Education performance for children adopted from care is worthy of serious, comprehensive and robust investigation. While there is a legal duty on local authorities in England and Wales to collate and monitor the academic achievement and attainment of looked after children, adopted children’s educational progress is not specifically scrutinised. This systematic review addresses a gap in knowledge regarding behavioural and emotional outcomes and academic attainment of school-age children who have been adopted from care. A total of 15 published articles were selected for review, based on a stringent set of inclusion criteria. With one exception, adoption was associated with lower academic attainment and elevated levels of behavioural problems across childhood, adolescence and emerging adulthood compared with non-adopted comparison groups. Collectively, the findings suggest that the school performance of adopted children should be routinely monitored. The findings also point to a need to recognise the potential challenges faced by children adopted from care by working with families, schools, practitioners and researchers to identify the means by which children can achieve the best possible outcomes. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

Do children adopted from British foster care show difficulties in executive functioning and social communication?

Authors:
WRETHAM Alexandra E., WOOLGAR Matthew
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.331-345.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Early life experiences leave a mark on a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development. It is well established that children adopted from psychosocially depriving institutions have difficulties in executive functioning and social communication ability, but this type of research has not been replicated in children adopted from foster care. In this study, 30 primary school aged UK adoptees without a history of institutionalisation completed an assessment of their intellectual, executive functioning and social communication abilities. Compared to children of a similar age in the general population, the adopted group showed elevated emotional and behavioural difficulties on a parental report measure (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, SDQ). They performed statistically poorer on two of three computerised executive functioning tests (CANTAB Intra-Extra Dimensional Shift and Spatial Working Memory) and elevated scores were observed on a parental report measure of executive functioning (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning, BRIEF). A strong negative correlation was found between age of adoption and BRIEF scores controlling for ADHD symptoms; no other pre- or post-adoption variables strongly correlated with executive functioning. Although all participants scored below cut-off on an autism screening measure (Social Communication Questionnaire, SCQ), a moderate positive correlation was observed with age of adoption. The identified elevation in emotional, behavioural and executive functioning difficulties is in line with previous research examining children adopted from institutions; however, the observed negative correlation between BRIEF scores and age of adoption is contrary to previous evidence. Limitations and implications for future research are discussed. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

Non-kinship family foster care in Egypt

Author:
MEGAHEAD Hamido A.
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.391-400.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

This article describes the history and philosophy of foster care in Egypt. While journal readers will be familiar with the issues affecting their own work, they are less likely to know about fostering in other countries. This can be limiting as international comparisons can give practitioners, researchers and educators insights into their own work as well as skills to support children from different cultural backgrounds. The article shows that foster care in Egypt is not a recent development, indeed it dates back to ancient Egypt and the Egyptian kings, but the current legal system was formalised in the first half of the 20th century. While fostering services are usually based on western paradigms, the Egyptian approach has several distinct features due to its development through authentication processes that match services to the needs and cultural backgrounds of the children concerned. Explanations for these differences are given. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

Achieving positive change for children? Reducing the length of child protection proceedings: lessons from England and Wales

Authors:
MASSON Judith, et al
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(4), 2017, pp.401-413.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Court decisions are required to remove children, compulsorily, from their families, and approve permanent care arrangements which restrict or terminate parents’ rights. The children involved are mostly young, have experienced serious abuse or neglect and may require permanent placement away from their parent(s) for their remaining childhoods. In England and Wales, justice to parents has dominated the rhetoric about these proceedings; this has resulted in lengthy proceedings, long periods of uncertainty for children and reduced placement options. In order to reduce delays, reforms in England and Wales have set a time limit for the completion of care proceedings. The Children and Families Act 2014 limits proceedings to 26 weeks; approximately 60% of care proceedings are now completed within this period. This article will discuss the impact of these reforms on decision-making for children, questioning whether they achieve both good decisions for children and justice for families. It uses the findings of an ESRC-funded study: ‘Establishing outcomes of care proceedings for children before and after care proceedings reform (2015–2018)’. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

Regionalisation: improving the adoption experience in Wales

Authors:
REES Alyson, HODGSON Philip
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(3), 2017, p.215–227.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

The authors provide an overview of the National Adoption Service for Wales (NAS) which was launched in November 2014. Further to a 2016 briefing by John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research & Development at CoramBAAF, on the regionalisation of adoption services in England, the background and legislative changes that have been made in Wales and report on progress so far are outlined. The authors summarise the current position of NAS, drawing on a wide range of consultation and engagement events with adopted children, adopters and practitioners working in the sector. In conclusion the future priorities, challenges and areas for further development are identified. (Edited publisher abstract)

Journal article

The Springfield Project service: evaluation of a Solihull Approach course for foster carers

Authors:
MADIGAN Sarah, PATON Kate, MACKETT Naomi
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(3), 2017, pp.254-267.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Many young people in care have experienced trauma. The emotional and behavioural issues that often ensue, along with foster carers’ varying levels of confidence and skills, are cited as the main reasons for placement disruption. Placement breakdown can represent a further trauma for young people and is also highly costly for local authorities. The need for interventions to develop foster carers’ competence and confidence in understanding and managing foster children’s behaviour is therefore significant. The Solihull Approach (SA) promotes the parent and child relationship by emphasising the need for emotional containment and a reciprocal relationship so as to form a framework for thinking about, understanding and effectively managing behaviour. The ‘Solihull Approach course for foster carers: understanding your foster child’s behaviour’ is a 12-week programme tailored to the demands of this task. It has been run within the Springfield Project in Fife, Scotland for the past four years. In the reported study 83 participants completed evaluation forms. A thematic analysis of their replies revealed that the most important things learned were: taking a step back; understanding the effects of trauma; reciprocity; communication and play; containment (of my child); understanding my child; and the ability to offload when full up. The course helped participants to better understand their foster child by clarifying the nature of the relationship and their role, understanding the impact of the child’s early experiences and appreciating that she or he is not to blame. Participants took from the course: increased understanding; being part of the group; staying calm and thinking before they act; feeling more confident; and looking after themselves and seeking containment. Pre- and post-Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) questionnaires were collected from 34 carers with children in the six to 18 age group and 13 looking after children aged one-and-a-half to five years. Paired samples t-tests revealed no statistically significant difference in pre- and post-scores in either the six- to 18-year-olds (t(33) = 1.6, p = 0.114) or the one-and-a-half- to five-year-olds (t(12) = 2, p = 0.069). Possible reasons for this and its implications are explored. However, the identified qualitative themes suggest that the aims of the training are being met. There was a strong overall sense that foster carers found the course helpful and informative, suggesting that it could represent a valuable intervention for promoting placement security. (Publisher abstract)

Journal article

Young people’s views on the impact of care experiences on their ability to form positive intimate relationships

Authors:
HYDE Abbey, et al
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(3), 2017, pp.242-253.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

Existing literature tells us that one of the factors important to the sexual health and intimate relationships of adolescents is the extent to which teenagers feel emotionally connected and supported by their families. In this article, the authors analyse the experiences of disconnectedness from their families and transience during childhood reported by a sample of young adults formerly in care, and the influence they believed this had on their sense of security and later intimate relationships. The sample comprised 19 young adults aged 18–22 years who were interviewed about experiences associated both directly and indirectly with sexual health, during which childhood experiences of transience emerged as an issue. Findings indicated that disconnectedness and transience were experienced as distressing for participants, generating feelings of rejection and compromising their sense of trust in others. Feelings of insecurity and mistrust were reported by some to influence their adult relationships. The authors conclude that while not always possible, social care professionals should endeavour to support enduring relationships with trusted adults and continuity of carer among young people in care. (Edited publisher abstract)

Journal article Full text available online for free

‘It’s a big deal, being given a person’: why people who experience infertility may choose not to adopt

Authors:
SMEETON Joe, WARD Jo
Journal article citation:
Adoption and Fostering, 41(3), 2017, pp.215-227.
Publisher:
British Association for Adoption and Fostering

This article explores why individuals and couples who experience infertility and undergo treatment through new technologies do not subsequently go on to become parents via adoption. It does this in three ways: a review of the literature; interviews with those affected; and an online survey of views on adoption among people who have experienced infertility. It was found that couples do consider adoption alongside infertility treatment but it is usually a fallback choice. If adoption is to be perceived as an equal option, agencies need to offer support and advice at an earlier stage than is usual. Couples who are emotionally exhausted by medical interventions for their childlessness can then be helped off the infertility treadmill in order to become parents. (Publisher abstract)

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