Support for Adoption Placements: The First Six Months

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  1. Eva-Maria Bonin*,
  2. Jennifer Beecham,
  3. Cherilyn Dance and
  4. Elaine Farmer

  1. Eva-Maria Bonin is an economist, working primarily in the areas of children’s services and mental health. She is interested
    in exploring the societal benefits of prevention and early intervention. Professor Jennifer Beecham has undertaken many cost-related
    studies of child health and social care over the last twenty years, including studies of adopted and looked after children,
    children in need and those with a range of mental health problems. Cherilyn Dance has been involved in a range of research
    studies related to adoption and placement options for looked after children. She is currently based at the University of Bedfordshire
    with the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care. Elaine Farmer is Professor of Child and Family Studies in
    the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol. She has researched and published widely in the areas of foster
    and kinship care, adoption, the reunification of separated children with their families and child protection.
  1. *Correspondence to Eva-Maria Bonin, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK.
    E-mail: e.bonin{at}
  • Accepted December 2012.


Adoption can provide stability and improved outcomes for looked after children, but the support needs of adoptive families
range from financial support to managing difficult behaviours and attachment problems. This study looks at the use of services
and associated costs over a six-month period through data collected from nineteen adoptive parents six months after a child
(average age twenty-three months) had been placed with them for adoption and at the patterns of service needs, usefulness
of services and satisfaction with services, supplemented with data from twenty-seven families who were interviewed about their
experience of post-adoption support. In line with previous research findings, the core element of support was provided by
social workers and over a third of families received financial support from social service departments. Involvement of specialist
services such as mental health professionals and educational support was low, probably because of the children’s young age.
Satisfaction with the support provided by social workers varied and depended on their relationship with the parents. The mean
public sector cost of services was £2,842 (range £980–£6,270) and most costs were borne by children’s social services. These
support costs compare favourably with other placement options such as children’s homes or foster-care.

Key words

  • Adoption support
  • costs
  • service use
  • social work

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