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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Adoption

Ofsted has recently published a report into the causes of delay in the adoption system. The report find that the most significant cause of delay for children needing adoption is the length of time it takes for cases to be completed in court. The average time taken to complete care proceedings in the cases inspectors examined was almost 14 months.

Not intervening early enough, and cases being left to ‘drift’ prior to care proceedings, were also key factors that hindered successful adoption in the cases reviewed. The report found that some children had been known to children’s social care for a considerable length of time prior to care proceedings being initiated.

Typically, these cases were characterised by long-standing concerns about either neglect or emotional abuse, or both. Delays jeopardised good outcomes for children. The children were older when they entered care, and their life experiences had resulted in some significant behavioural challenges for potential adopters.

The report also found many good examples of practice where local authorities worked to minimise delays. Overall, there was good parallel planning when children were taken into care or about to be placed for adoption. Most of the cases tracked showed a clear commitment to early planning for adoption at the same time as rehabilitation was being pursued. This ensured that if children could not go back to their birth family then the process for adoption was already in place.

Of those adopters that were interviewed, the majority were happy with the overall service that they received. Most did not feel that they had experienced significant delay, although nearly all considered that there had been some kind of delay, however minor. Nearly all adopters felt they had received a welcoming and sensitive response when they first enquired about adoption, and that assessment was necessarily thorough.

The report found that processes for matching children with adoptive placements were generally robust and of the authorities surveyed, there was little evidence of delay caused by an unrealistic search for a ‘perfect’ ethnic match.

The Government has published an Action Plan for Adoption to overhaul the system for prospective adopters and strengthen the performance regime for local authorities.

The current system is too bureaucratic and takes too long for both potential adopters and children who need a stable, loving home.

The numbers of children adopted from care has been decreasing in recent years. Just 3,050 children found new homes through adoption last year, the lowest since 2001. A recent survey showed that one third of adopters were not satisfied with their experience of the adoption system. Research has shown that with every year that a child waits their chances of being adopted decreased by 20%.

The new action plan will include proposals for:

  • New adoption scorecards, to hold local authorities to account. The first scorecards will be published in the coming weeks.
  • A revised approval process for new adopters, cutting it to six months.
  • A national gateway for adoption, providing a first point of contact for anyone interested in adoption.

 

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has published a position statement setting out potential changes to the adoption system in response to criticism that it takes too long for a child in care to be permanently adopted.

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) has published new research which highlights the difficulties faced by adoption agencies in finding homes for sibling groups. The Association warns that a shortage of people willing to adopt groups of brothers and sisters who need to stay together puts these children at risk of missing out on permanent homes.