Project: The Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Adoption Project Research

Funder: Barnardo’s (on behalf of the Yorkshire and Humberside regional adoption board)

Dates: May 2016 - April 2017

Research team: Professor Beth Neil (Project director), Julie Young, Irina Sirbu and Lisanne Gitsels (CRCF at UEA), James Cornford (Norwich Business School at UEA) and Lisa Holmes and Samantha McDermid (University of Loughborough)

Read the research briefing

Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Adoption Project Research Report


In response to the government’s plans to regionalise adoption services by April 2017, the Yorkshire & Humberside Regional Adoption Project is bringing together a range of organisations in the area that are involved in commissioning and delivering adoption services. We will be carrying out a 3-strand programme of research as these changes take place involving:


  1. A survey of adoptive families.
  2. The analysis of existing adoption-related data collected by agencies in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
  3. Action research to understand and support the process of organisational change.


The survey strand of the study aims to:

  • learn about the experiences of adoptive families, their challenges and the support services they need
  • understand adopted children’s resilience, and risks to their development
  • inform the development of adoption support services
  • understand the costs of adoption support services on a case-by-case basis, and inform the work on the “adoption cost calculator” being undertaken at Loughborough University.

The analysis of existing adoption data aims to provide a more complete picture of children’s (and specific subgroups of children’s) journeys through the care and adoption system by combining different data sets.

The action research aims to understand some of the organisational challenges likely to be encountered as separate agencies merge within the new regional structure, and to work with managers to find ways of overcoming these challenges.  


The Survey: A group of adoptive parents will provide advice regarding the recruitment materials and survey content, and a smaller subsection of volunteers will thoroughly pilot the survey. The inclusion criteria for families taking part in the survey will be:

  • Families who have adopted a child from the Yorkshire and Humberside local authorities
  • Adopters approved by Yorkshire and Humberside agencies who have adopted a child
  • Adoptive families living in the Yorkshire and Humberside region (where neither the child nor the adopters come from the region).


Adoptive parents will be recruited with the help of adoption agencies in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, and through posting calls for participation on social media sites and networks used by adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents will be invited to complete the survey online with a survey prepared using Qualtrics software; a paper copy will be sent out if preferred. Questions will focus on a ‘target child’ in the family, and will include questions about the family context, the child’s pre-placement history, adoptive parents’ early attitudes towards adoption and their experiences around placement, views of birth family contact, as well as questions about the child’s characteristics and difficulties, education, and support services received and wanted.

Child development/parenting measures (the Parenting Stress Index, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and the Brief Attachment Checklist) will be included at the end the survey. We will work in collaboration with the University of Loughborough, as they will be helping to cost service use for each family over a period of 12 months using their adoption cost calculator.

The analysis of existing adoption data: We plan to use the Adoption Leadership Board (ALB) quarterly year data returns, and the Children In Need (CIN) and Looked after Children (LAC) annual data returns, from 2013 onwards. With this data we would like to explore the adoption procedure at an individual level from the moment the child enters the social care system to the adoption order. Each of the datasets holds some information about the process and the people involved, including the child, the child’s birth family, and the adoptive family. Linking these together could provide insights in the adoption process in its entirety and will allow us to explore what factors affect the timing between various stages of the adoption trajectory.

Action research: This strand will involve the researcher (James Cornford) gathering data from meetings, agency documentation, and interviews with key informants to generate knowledge about changes at an organisational level. This will be fed back to agency staff and problem solving sessions will help focus on possible solutions to organisational challenges.


The findings from this study will be used to inform policy and practice in the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Adoption Project and beyond. The project will also enhance our understanding of the risk and resilience factors that impact adopted children’s development, enabling better predictions about children’s future development and support needs to be made. Findings from the research will be disseminated and published in a range of formats addressing the key audiences (academic articles and policy/practitioner articles).

For more information about the project please contact the research team: or Tel: 01603 592068