Section One

Who are the children in the study?

There were 374 children who were under 5 years old and in care in Northern Ireland on the 31st of March 2000.  We are looking at where all these children are living. 

Where were the children living?

  1. When the study started, 322 children were living in foster care, 52 were living with their birth parents, and none of the children were adopted.  The three charts below show that as the number of children living in foster care went down over the years, the number of children who were adopted went up.  
  2. Lots of children who can’t live with their birth parents are being adopted now, instead of spending a long time living in foster care.  This is a big change from ten years ago when hardly any children in care were adopted.  Even so, there are still some children who have been living in foster care for a long time. 
  3. The number of children going home to live with their parents increased a little at the start of the study, but after a while very few children were going home to live with their birth parents. 

What made a difference to where children were living?

·         The area the children were from seemed to have a lot to do with whether or not they were adopted, living in foster care, or living with their birth parents.

·         If the child’s mum was living on her own, then the child was more likely to be adopted.

·         If the birth parents had an alcohol problem, the child was less likely to go home. 

·         If the child was very young when they went into care, they were more likely to be adopted.

·         The longer the child stayed in care, the less likely they were to go home. 

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