Adoption could be outsourced if progress not made

Councils that take too long to find adoptive parents could see the responsibility outsourced to private agencies and charities, children’s minister Edward Timpson is to announce.

He plans to change the law to allow outsourcing if councils could not demonstrate they are doing enough to tackle the problem.

There are 4,600 children in England waiting to be adopted, and the Government is pushing to speed up and simplify the process. The DfE estimated that councils would need to find 600 new adopters a year, as well as another 3,000 to clear the backlog.

There are also concerns that come councils are not directing couples to neighbouring councils in great need of adopters, as there is currently no requirement to do so.

A £150m fund for work with children will be directed to support adoption reform, with £50m specifically on measures to help local authorities to identify more adopters.

Timpson will say: “We cannot stand by whilst children’s’ futures hang in the balance. Some local authorities are already doing a good job to recruit the adopters they need in their area but not enough is being done to address the national shortage.

“Today we have set out our vision of how we expect local authorities together with voluntary adoption agencies to respond to the needs of all children waiting for adoption.

“Local authorities must now demonstrate that they are up to the challenge, or we won’t hesitate to intervene.”

Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “Local authorities should be encouraged to recruit as many suitable adopters as possible, and not do this difficult task with a ministerial 'Sword of Damocles' hanging over them.

“It will be confusing and demoralising for prospective adopters and local authority adoption staff alike.”

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