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Councils forced to speed up early adoption schemes and draft merger plans by 2017

Under new legislative powers announced today (2 November), Whitehall will be able to intervene to ensure all councils have plans to join regional adoption agencies by 2017 so that all services are merged by the end of the decade.

Councils will also be subject to more rigorous checks to their child care schemes under today’s proposals, with prime minister David Cameron challenging local authorities to double the number of children placed with adoptive families early on – which currently represents 10% of adopted kids.

The government argued that these changes will give children immediate access to up to 10 times more prospective adopters in most regions.

The Department for Education had recently made £4.5m of funding available to councils to help with the merge and £30m to speed up adoption processes, but today’s more detailed move was motivated by recent figures showing nearly half of councils (68 out of 152) had no children placed with their adoptive families early.

Whitehall will now toughen up council checks to make sure youngsters are placed, as early as possible, with the best person able to care for them – rather than “unsuitable distant relatives they have never met”.

It will also alter regulations to ensure councils carry out more thorough assessments of whether children are in the right home or if relatives can look after them until they are 18.

And a result of varying amounts of councils making use of early placement schemes across the country, all of them will have to publish how many children are placed with adoptive families before the full process is complete.

This builds on plans embedded in the Education and Adoption Bill to merge council adopt agencies so young people can be matched with guardians more quickly. Around 140 of 150 councils have already applied to combine their services into regional adoption agencies.

Cameron said: “It is a tragedy that there are still too many children waiting to be placed with a loving family – we have made real progress but it remains a problem.

“As prime minister I want to make sure that we do everything we can so children are placed in a loving home as soon as possible, giving them the best chance for a happy and fulfilled life.”

Proposals were generally welcomed by charities and local government representatives, with children’s charity Coram saying there is “nothing more beneficial” for vulnerable kids than being placed with a family as early as possible.

LGA’s children and young people board chairman, Roy Perry, was also quoted as saying locally-led initiatives are “far more effective” than central structures, making it encouraging that Whitehall is supporting regional work.

But he added: “A focus on social work practice is only one part of the solution, and it is vital that court delays are also addressed and legal proceedings sped up if we are to continue to provide much-needed homes for children.”

Perry also said that local and national government must continue improving all aspects of child care, regardless of whether children are placed in foster care, residential care or looked after by friends and family.

(Top image c. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images 2012)


Josie Cassidy   03/11/2015 at 11:04

I think it's wrong your taking children away from loving parents I was not giving a chance to be a mother to my child now your trying to place her for adoption with a French lady but she is from the travil background

Karen   13/11/2015 at 01:18

It is evil and lying in court is criminal and taking our children when they are loved so much is cruel it is against human rights it seems money is more important than lives the are evil and.all the scandal about abusers,they are the abusers and this needs to stop social care is there to help not destroy lives,people are scared to seek help it is so wrong end this now and bring our children home now

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