Supporting Practice in Open Adoption of Children from Out of Home Care
Despite evidence on the potential for children in care to benefit from open adoption and efforts to reform legislation and support adoption practice, its uptake in Australia remains low. Some authors have postulated that the detrimental impact of Australia’s past adoption practices have created a reticence among frontline practitioners to consider adoption as an alternative to long term foster placements.
The current mixed methods study assessed frontline child protection practitioner knowledge and attitudes towards open adoption in the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Child protection practitioners across NSW (614 total) completed a survey measure, alongside in-depth interviews with a subset of 22 respondents. These measures explored participant knowledge of open adoption, attitudes towards open adoption for children in out of home care and needs regarding support for undertaking open adoption casework.
On the basis of these findings, a conceptual framework of open adoption practice was developed which highlighted the influence of workforce drivers of capability, capacity, communication and culture. The interconnected nature of these drivers and the associated need for structural support to achieve change in open adoption practice was apparent. These findings provide an evidence based framework which can support child protection agencies to achieve permanency outcomes for children in care.