From the UK, an interesting story–remarkable for how obvious this is; yet incredible that this approach is so rare.
The principal idea is that one children’s charity is promoting the idea of moving at risk children immediately after birth into the home of people who would love to adopt them. The original mother/parent is given one year to make changes that would allow the child to be returned. If that does not happen, then the family that took in the child would quickly and smoothly adopt him or her. See from the Times Online:
‘The new model has been pioneered by Coram, the children’s charity founded by Thomas Coram, who created the London Foundling Hospital in 1742. Coram developed the model to speed up the process of adoption and prevent very young babies from being moved around while decisions are made about their future. The latest research on emotional development suggests that babies have to “attach” to their primary carer and suffer deep emotional trauma if moved around. Only a very small proportion of the babies in the scheme have gone back to their natural parents.
Coram has been piloting the scheme with four London local authorities for several years and overseen about 50 successful placements. It is most commonly used where the natural mother is a drug addict whose behaviour during pregnancy suggests the child will have to be taken into care from birth or shortly afterwards.
However, the charity is frustrated that, despite the enormous benefits for the baby, most local authorities are still sticking to old methods.
Jeanne Kaniuk, head of adoption at Coram, believes there are so many advantages it should be taken up by all children’s services departments. She said: “It is crazy that there are not more local authorities using concurrent planning. It is a great system for parents who want to adopt a baby, although obviously they carry all the risk and have to be quite courageous.
“It is very sympathetic to the birth parents, who are given help and support and every chance to show they can care for their baby. It speeds up the process and a decision is made early. And, of course, it is good for the baby.”
Ms Kanuik thinks there are several key reasons why the model has not been take up more widely. It is complicated idea and social workers in a busy local authority are often fire-fighting, doing everything in a rush, such as considering care proceedings, finding foster carers or finding a place at a mother and baby unit. Budgets are also made up of different pots of money which, in some councils, works against concurrent planning.
“There is also often a fear that some solicitors representing birth parents will fight it very hard in the belief their clients are not getting a fair deal,” Ms Kanuik said. “But the baby’s welfare should be paramount and concurrent planning is a fair offer to both adoptive parents and birth parents.”’
These models of easier permanency and adoption must eventually proliferate. The spectacle of children being abused through multiple placements and early impermanency is just too terrible. Though, as I have been pointing out on this blog for months, countries like Russia are actually moving towards more paid stranger foster care! Who is promoting this? Have they any idea what more ordinary foster care can lead to?
Note in the article the reasons why such a process is not followed more widely–these reasons certainly have nothing to do with the child’s interests….