BAAF in Northern Ireland

Priscilla McLoughlin - Director Northern IrelandWelcome to the Northern Ireland page from Director Priscilla McLoughlin

Northern Ireland team:

  • Priscilla McLoughlin - Director 
  • Patricia McDonnell - Trainer Consultant
  • Sarah Johnston - ARIS Child Placement Consultant
  • Jane Gilvary - Regional Administrator
  • Jolene Grew - Regional Administrator



BAAF Northern Ireland logoBAAF’s office is based in Belfast, we offer a regional programme of conferences, seminars and workshops of interest to all those working with and caring for children looked after away from home/adopted/separated from their birth family.

BAAF Northern Ireland also runs the Adoption Regional Information System for Northern Ireland (ARIS), a database linking children with prospective adoptive families. This service is provided by BAAF on behalf of the Health and Social Care Board. Visit the website BAAF is registered as a Voluntary Adoption Agency with RQIA. View our statement of purpose PDF

Areas we cover

We cover the whole of Northern Ireland and also deal with enquiries from the Republic of Ireland.

Boundary of area Covered

How we can help

  • Advice for members of the public and for professionals -on all aspects of adoption, fostering and planning for children.
  • Consultancy services offering in depth help on individual complex cases, service reviews and team development.
  • Training on a wide range of subjects for social workers, foster carers, adoptive parents, residential workers and other professionals.


Home on Time

BAAF (NI) is privileged to be working with the Health and Social Care Board in delivering training and resources to support an innovative new project, “Home on Time, which is funded by the Early Intervention Transformation Programme being delivered across a number of Government departments aimed at breaking intergenerational cycles of poor outcomes experienced by some children and families in Northern Ireland.

“Home on Time” is a concurrent planning scheme being implemented across the five Health and Social Care Trusts. Each of the Trusts has been funded to appoint a dedicated senior social work practitioner to work with families where a concurrent care plan is agreed.

Young children and babies will be placed with families who will foster the child and work intensely with the Trust to support the child’s return to the care of their birth family but if this fails within agreed time-frames, they will adopt the child so avoiding the damaging impact of a further move.

BAAF is working with each of the Trusts to provide training for adoption and family placement teams, adoption and fostering panel members, Looked After Children and Gateway teams, LAC chairs and permanence panel members and with social workers appointed to work with parents, in addition to delivering preparation training for prospective concurrent carers and information seminars for the Judiciary and lawyers.

We are delighted to be involved in supporting this important project. “Home on Time” will significantly improve the life chances of babies and young children placed within the scheme by maximising opportunities for them to develop early attachments and reducing delay and disruption.

Download the Home on time leaflet (PDF)

BBC Outreach film

Here’s a short film BAAF made with BBC Outreach featuring a family who adopted three little girls in Northern Ireland. Watch their hearting warming story here.

Disappointment at consultation delay

BAAF is deeply disappointed that the consultation process in relation to the Adoption and Children Bill has been delayed until September at the earliest. This major legislation, that includes proposals for the most radical changes in adoption practice seen in over 25 years, has already suffered significant delay and was first consulted on in 2006. Adoption in Northern Ireland is out of step with practice in other parts of the UK and this legislation offers the potential for children, their adoptive parents and birth parents, to benefit from an adoption service which reflects contemporary family life and which is in keeping with other legislative and policy developments in recent years.

It is unacceptable that in Northern Ireland people who are affected personally by adoption, and those who work within the service, are forced to endure legislative requirements which are no longer fit for purpose and that they do not have the opportunity to experience the same standards of practice and resources as the rest of the UK.

Unmarried couples, including those in same-sex relationships and civil partnerships are now eligible to apply to adopt in Northern Ireland

BAAF welcomes guidance issued today by the DHSSPS confirming that unmarried couples, including those in same-sex relationships and civil partnerships are now eligible to apply to adopt in Northern Ireland. While in reality, this has been the case since the outcome of a Judicial Review in June 2013, the DHSSPS’ correspondence finally brings to an end the possibility of a further legal challenge on this issue.

We are delighted that discrimination against unmarried and same-sex couples who wish to jointly apply to adopt has now ended and that the pool of prospective adopters available for children waiting has the potential to increase as a result. This is of particular significance given that a research study, undertaken by the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University, published by BAAF in 2013, found that same-sex couples were more open to accepting harder-to-place children and we hope that as more gay and lesbian couples are approved to adopt locally, opportunities will be enhanced for older children and those with significant health needs or developmental uncertainty to be placed for adoption.

New Figures Released on Children Adopted from Care in Northern Ireland

BAAF welcomes the publication by the DHSSPS of updated adoption figures for NI and in particular, the increase in the number of children adopted from care during 2012/13. We are concerned, however, that the average time taken from the Trust having made the decision to pursue adoption plans for children to the granting of an Adoption Order has increased in the last year and is now over 2 ½ years. The impact of this legal uncertainty on children’s development and capacity to form secure attachments is deeply worrying and for prospective adoptive parents, may exacerbate the stresses which these new parent often face in the early stages of a placement.

We hope that new adoption legislation currently being drafted for NI will address the delays which currently plague adoption processes in Northern Ireland.

BAAF welcomes the report from the Registration and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) following their review of statutory fostering services in Northern Ireland

BAAF welcomes the overview report from the Registration and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) following their review of statutory fostering services in Northern Ireland. The report highlights significant practice and policy issues in the delivery of fostering services and makes important recommendations for Health and Social Care Trusts, the Health and Social Care Board and the DHSSPS. We look forward to assisting all those responsible for the delivery of fostering services and the development of child care policy in addressing the wide range of recommendations contained within the report.

The publication of the RQIA report is timely given the launch on 17th January, by the DHSSPS of the formal consultation process on regulations and standards to be introduced for fostering services in NI. BAAF welcomes the drive to improve and standardise practice in fostering across NI and we encourage everyone with professional or personal interest or involvement to respond to the consultation and have your views heard on the future development of fostering services. The draft standards and the consultation response questionnaire can be accessed at the following link:

If you require the documents in another format please email: telephone 02890 522539.


Contact details

BAAF Northern Ireland, Botanic House, 1-5 Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1JG

View Belfast office in a larger map