Why we need research into contact between children and birth families
There is increasing recognition of the importance of supporting children to understand their history and identity to maximise healthy well-being and development. Despite this, decision-making about how contact is managed between children and their birth families when they are placed for adoption, removed from home through care proceedings, or voluntarily looked after by local authorities has evolved very little in recent years.
As a result, contact arrangements can be rigid and outdated. For example, ‘letterbox’ contact—the most common arrangement for the vast majority of adopted children—was designed for a pre-digital age and might not meet the needs of children and families now.
What we are doing
Nuffield FJO is bringing together the latest research and evidence to inform and inspire innovation in decision-making related to contact.
Our review of UK and international literature on the risks and protective factors around contact between children and birth families, carried out by NatCen Social Research and the University of Sussex, brings together what is known about the implications for the well-being of children and young people who have been separated from their birth parents.
We have carried out a feasibility study into the potential role for digital in managing children’s contact in adoption, bringing together young adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents, adoption agencies and local authorities and inspiring a set of pilots trialing new approaches to managing contact.