Nagalro responds to call for views on sibling groups and contact with children in care

Nagalro has responded to  two government discussion papers, initiated by Martin Narey, seeking views on important aspects of the care and adoption systems.  Our response questions the need for legislative change and expresses concern that draconian changes are being proposed on what appears to be sometimes very slight evidence. We recommend measures such as better training and knowledge of the existing law to improve professional practice and provide more high quality support for adopters.

One paper is about contact between children in care or who have been adopted and their birth parents.  It sets out the case for changes to the law to help ensure that contact arrangements serve the best interests of children.

Nagalro's response is informed by research findings about contact and adoption.  Our view is that current legislation rightly neither promotes nor discourages contact, and that enabling a case-by-case consideration of what contact will best meet each child’s needs. Nagalro therefore does not see that there is any need to change legislation in the direction of restricting contact. 

Nagalro thinks contact arrangements should always be purposeful and meet the needs of the child, though contact can have a range of valid purposes e.g. to maintain an existing relationship, to promote identity needs etc. There is room for improvement in the area of professional practice, which requires greater availability of training and use of professionals who can exercise their skilled judgment. 
Both Nagalro's responses point out there are significant problems in the child care system that affect decision-making about children.  These are:
  • the continuing increase in care proceedings, combined with budget pressures on local authorities
  • reduction in quality of work that Cafcass permits guardians  to undertake under its model of ‘proportionate’ working
  • loss of skilled independent social workers (ISWs) from court proceedings
  • ineffectiveness of the IRO service in holding local authorities to account.

The second paper is about the placement of sibling groups for adoption.  The paper explores the thinking that there may be benefits in separating sibling groups more often and that this may lead to fewer adoption breakdowns.

  • A focus on best practice in placing sibling groups, and how to recruit and support placement of siblings together wherever possible, so that all agencies can learn from the success of the best.
  • Ensuring practice uses research findings and is evidence-based.
  • Providing high quality adoption support services, better-resourced and more readily accessible to families wherever they are in the country.
  • Recognition of the importance to children of being brought up together, and the long-term benefits for children.
These responses can be downloaded here:
All Nagalro's responses can be found on our Responses and Publications website page.