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Councils with slow adoption services will have to merge or outsource them

More councils could be forced to merge or outsource their adoption functions to speed up the placement process.

The government says the powers in the new Education and Adoption Bill “would only be used if councils failed to take action quickly enough”.

It says there are no barriers to councils working together to streamline the adoption system, but that too many currently “concentrate their efforts locally”, leading to children waiting much longer the necessary. The thinking behind the Bill is that regional approaches will prove better for children, especially the more than 3,000 children waiting to be matched with their new parents. More than half of those children have spent 18 months in care despite there being adopters readily available.

Children and families minister Edward Timpson MP, who grew up with two adopted brothers, said: “Every single day a child spends waiting in care for their new family is a further delay to a life full of love and stability. This just isn’t good enough. By coming together and joining forces, councils can make sure more children are matched with families far quicker – regardless of where they live.

“Thanks to reforms under the last government, there are now more families than ever ready to adopt. The government now wants to make sure that fewer children face unnecessary delays before being placed in a loving and stable home.”

There is a two-year deadline for councils to “join together services under their own steam” before the new powers will be used to force them to unite their adoption services under one system or outsource the delivery of their adoption functions into a single regional agency via a “backstop power”.

Speeding up the adoption process was also a goal of the former coalition government, and plans to force councils to outsource services were originally floated in 2013.

Javed Khan, CEO of Barnardo’s, the largest voluntary sector adoption agency, said: “We know only too well that the longer a child waits in care, the more difficult it is to place them for adoption, not to mention the disruption and uncertainty that those children face.

“The immediate and long term welfare of the child must always be paramount. We welcome any moves that will ensure children do not have to wait a day longer than necessary to find the loving and supportive parents they need and deserve.”


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