The number of online profiles of children waiting for adoption and long term fostering has increased sharply, according to new figures from the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF).
The charity's online profile service, Be My Parent, saw a 37% increase in the number of children profiled online in the last 12 months reaching an all time high of 250 children. There was also a 100% increase in the numbers of videos of children featured on the website.
Be My Parent profiles children waiting for adoption or long term fostering when attempts to place them with a family locally have not been successful. Children are referred to the service by adoption and fostering social workers at a local authority. The children can be featured in either the Be My Parent magazine, on the Be My Parent website or on both. Both the magazine and the website have hundreds of approved adopters as subscribers.
Although there has been a slight decline in the number of children featured in the magazine, the website has seen significant growth.
David Holmes, BAAF's Chief Executive, said: "There could be a number of reasons for the rise. However we think a shift in attitude amongst social workers around new media is playing a big part. Where once it was viewed with suspicion and distrust, now they are realising that it is a powerful resource in family finding.
"The internet has also opened the doors to using video to find families for children, which has been hugely successful. A 3-4 minute video can really show the essence of a child and our research shows that children who have videos made for them have an increase in enquiries from prospective adopters. 83% of families in our survey said they found it ‘very helpful', and 96% of social workers said they thought it was a valuable tool."
In the last three years BAAF helped find families for 1,300 children through its range of family finding services, which includes Be My Parent.