Adoption Services (AS)
5.76 Per Cent of Children Eligible for Adoption Placed in Adoption Homes
Evidence has shown that children require a stable and continuous relationship with a nurturing caregiver to maximize physical, social emotional and cognitive development. If this relationship is not possible with the birth family or other Out-of-Care (OCO) options, then for children whom the ministry has legal permanent guardianship (CYIC), adoption is an alternative.
This indicator trended up between late 2013 and early 2016; then decreased since March 2016. The upward trend is due to a strategic initiative in April of 2014 and 2015, and additional investments, to increase the number of CYIC that find permanency. While there was a decrease in the number of children eligible for adoption since the baseline period of September 2012, the number of children placed in adoption homes increased since the baseline.
Trends in adoption rates for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous eligible CYIC are improving but the adoption rate for Indigenous children is lower than that for non-Indigenous children. This, in part, is due to Indigenous children being more likely to have siblings, requiring common placement, as well as the importance of ensuring their cultural connectedness. The number of Indigenous children placed in adoption homes increased by 43% since the base period. In contrast, Indigenous children available for adoption have only increased by 5% over the same period.
Despite making progress in finding homes for children and youth age 12 or older, the improvement in the indicator is mainly driven by the significant increase in adoptions for children under the age of 12, who represented more than 86% of all children adopted for the past three years.
5.77 Time Taken for CYIC to go from Permanent Status to Adoption Placement
For CYIC who are no longer able to return to their family, achieving permanency through adoption is a desirable option. Research has found that a longer history in out of home care, as well as a child’s age at time of adoption are risk factors strongly associated with an adoption placement’s chances for success, meaning that once it is determined that adoption is the best option for a child, it should take place without unnecessary delays.
The median time from permanent ward to adoption placement has gone down from 24 months in the September 2012 baseline period to 20 months in the March 2018 period. The wait times for both Indigenous children and non-Indigenous children have been decreasing. The wait time for Non-Indigenous children is substantially lower than that of Indigenous children. The proportion of new placements that were for Indigenous children has remained at 49% in the past three fiscal years.
Historically, it has been easier to place younger children in adoption homes than older ones. This remained true this period. Children under the age of 12 experienced a median wait time of 16 months, while children ages 12 and over experienced a median wait time of 67 months.
Of course, it is expected that children who had to wait longer for their adoptive families were older when they were placed but data also show that a child’s chances of finding an adoptive family are greater in the first two years in permanent care. Currently, the ministry initiative continues to address both faster placements for new permanent wards as well as trying to find homes for the older children who have been waiting for a long time. With a continued focus on permanency, it is expected that most children will find a permanent option earlier in their care experience.
The current performance trend for this indicator shows an improving performance since the baseline period of September 2012, e.g., a 17% decrease in the number of months spent waiting.
On average, Indigenous children experience longer periods between being eligible for adoption and being placed in an adoption home, but since the baseline period of September 2012 the wait period for Indigenous children has decreased by 17 months. In contrast, the wait period for non- Indigenous children has decreased by 2.5 months since the baseline period.