Foster and adoptive parents make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of children and Canadian society. Many children need foster care for a brief time, but others require a permanent arrangement. The need for adoptive families is ever present in Canada with an estimated 30 000 children waiting to be adopted. Some children are placed in stable long-term foster care but for others an adoptive home is the best option.
The body of data and analysis on long-term foster care and adoption has many limitations but is growing. This paper examines long-term foster care and adoption studies that explore children’s perceptions of their care& arrangements and their sense of attachment with foster parents and adoptive parents. It explores the emotional and educational outcomes of children in foster care and those who were adopted and examines the variables that may influence adoption. Caution is required when examining the outcomes of children in foster care and those who were adopted, as children from these two types of care may exhibit different traits and history. What seems clear from the data is that a sense of security and permanency leads to positive outcomes. Long-term stability, particularly the kind of stability provided by adoption, leads to good outcomes for children. Where appropriate, adoption plans should be encouraged and promoted.
Acknowledging that a number of reports and panels have identified the inefficiencies within the public adoption system, this report focuses on two particular recommendations.
- Canadian decision makers would do well to consider creating a central foster care and adoption data collection system. Policy makers should consider an enhanced version of the Adoption and Foster Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) in the United States. This would assist in targeted policy making and evaluation of policy and services
- Government agencies should be encouraged to continue working with stakeholders in the adoption community who can recruit and connect potential adoptive and foster parents with appropriate government departments and provide ongoing support
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