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Councils to receive £30m to speed up adoption searches

The government has said it will commit £30m to speed up finding adoptive parents for children in care in England.

The funding, which will be confirmed in this week’s Budget, will be used to pay for fees that councils are charged by adoption agencies or other local authorities for finding, assessing and matching an adoptive parent and child.

A £27,000 fee is currently paid for an adoptive parent found from outside a local authority’s border either by another council or by one of 30 voluntary sector adoption agencies.

On average it takes 18 months at the moment for children entering care in England to move in with adoptive families, but it is hoped the £30m funding could pay for more than a third of the 3,000 children currently in care to find a home.

Prime minister David Cameron said: “I am determined to tear down the barriers to children in care being found loving adoptive parents. The average time it takes to place a child with a new family has been falling and I am delighted we are able to offer this funding to try to ensure it falls further."”

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), which is the UK’s leading charity for children separated from their birth families, told PSE there are two serous issues impacting on adoption currently. 

“The first is a dramatic and deeply troubling fall - as much as 50% - in the numbers of children with adoption as the plan,” said the BAAF. “This results from a number of judgments starting with the Supreme Court which has reminded local authorities and the courts that the first responsibility is to do all that they can to keep the child with their birth parents or birth family members. They should also take the least interventionist approach in ensuring the child is placed with a family who can care for them for the rest of their life.  Adoption is at the end of the scale of the most interventionist approach.

“The second issue is that the majority of children with adoption as their plan are likely to have one or more of a range of complex issues - older children, disabled children or those with complex health needs, sibling groups or children from minority ethnic communities.  The system as a whole needs to be effective in every possible way given the urgency of the needs of the children who currently have adoption as the plan.”

The Local Government Association told PSE it would not be commenting on the issue until after the chancellor’s Budget announcement on Wednesday this week.

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