MRC Seminar - Adoption Research Initiative: a synthesis of the findings from seven studies

Thursday 3 March 2011, 9.30AM to 14:30

Speaker(s): Mary Beek, Nina Biehal and Jo Dixon

The main focus of this event will be the dissemination of findings from the recently completed Adoption Research Initiative studies. The Department for Education (formerly DCSF) commissioned projects were designed to contribute to the evaluation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and various other related policy initiatives which aimed to:

  • Improve planning for permanence for looked after children
  • Increase the number of children adopted from, or otherwise placed permanently out of, care
  • Reduce delays in social work and court processes
  • Put children’s needs and rights at the centre of adoption processes.

Specifically, the Adoption Research Initiative comprised 7 studies, which focused on previously under-researched aspects of adoption policy and practice under the themes of permanency planning and professional decision-making, linking and matching, adoption support and the costs of adoption.

Mary Beek, DfE, will present an overview of the whole initiative, provide a summary of conclusions and findings, and outline the key implications for policy and practice arising from the studies. Delegates will then hear from Jo Dixon and Nina Biehal, who will present the findings from the research they have completed as part of the Adoption Research Initiative, which explore the areas of Special Guardianship and a comparison of outcomes of long-term foster care and adoption.

Throughout the day, delegates will have the opportunity to ask questions about the studies and their findings, and take part in structured discussions on the implications of the research for practice and what the challenges/next steps are for organisations.

Further information on Adoption Research Initiative can be found at:  


Mary Beek has worked in fostering and adoption research and practice for many years.  Her research interests include the experience of being adopted, the building of relationships in long term foster care and planning for permanence.  Mary is an adoption team manager with Norfolk County Council, but currently seconded to the DfE Adoption Policy Team.  Her main responsibility there is the dissemination of the findings from the Adoption Research Initiative.

Professor Nina Biehal is Research Director at the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, where she leads the Children and Young People’s Social Work Team. Building on her previous experience as a social worker, Nina has been involved in child welfare research for many years. Her research interests focus particularly on social work with older children and adolescents. She has completed studies on leaving care, runaways from care, family support and missing persons. Nina was the editor of the journal Child and Family Social Work from 2003-2006, and she is a member of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering Research Group Advisory Committee.

Jo Dixon is a researcher at the Social Policy Research Unit at York. Over the past decade she has completed a number of research studies on experiences and outcomes for young people in foster and residential care as well as young people leaving care and on the edge of care. Studies include the use of respite placements, Multidimentional Treatment Foster Care and Special Guardianship. She is currently seconded to the National Care Advisory Service as research manager on a study of corporate parenting.

Making Research Count

Making Research Count (MRC) is a national research dissemination network based regionally in the social work departments of eleven English Universities, all of whom have a proven track record in social work and social care research as well as providing social work education at qualifying and post- qualifying levels.  Some 60 agencies throughout England are currently engaged in the network through subscribing to their closest MRC regional centre.  Through a series of local conferences, seminars and workshops each MRC programme is engaged in:

  • Dissemination of research from academics, practitioners, carers and users
  • Promotion of knowledge-based practice to improve local services
  • Encouragement of knowledge sharing and professional networking
  • Supporting practitioners and managers to undertake research 

Location: York

Admission: MRC Free. Non-MRC £50.


Telephone: 01904 321237

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