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Local government pledges to cut adoption shortfall by 50%

The Local Government Association (LGA) has set out alternative plans to reform the adoption system, following proposals that councils could be removed altogether from the process of recruiting adopters.

There is a shortfall of up to 3,000 adoptive parents, and councils have been criticised for the speed of the adoption process and the amount of adopters who are being recruited.

The joint submission, from councillors, chief executives and directors of children’s services, outlines an ambition to reduce the shortfall by over half by March 2014.

It outlines how councils could work more closely together to match adopters with children in other parts of the country, and warns that removing councils could risk making it worse for children in care.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said: “There are too many children in care waiting for a loving home, and too few adoptive parents ready to provide a family. This needs to change.

“We know that adoptive mums and dads value the support and relationship they have with their local authority, and it is a fact that councils have twice the success rate of independent adoption agencies.

“However, there are things which we could do better. We have set out an honest appraisal of what we can do better, and how we will ensure those improvements happen quickly.

“Government needs to play its part by finally delivering on its pledge to reduce the heavy legal burden of care proceedings and ridiculous bureaucracy which causes huge delays that can put some people off adopting altogether.

“Removing councils from the process of recruiting adopters would be a reckless gamble that risks making things worse for adoptive parents and children in care.

“Parents tell us they value the consistent support that a council social worker offers throughout process, with many continuing to offer assistance long after the adoption has taken place. Government's starting point for recruiting more adopters needs to be working with councils, not removing them from the process altogether.”

A spokeswoman for the DfE said: “We are breaking down barriers to adoption but there are over 4,000 children currently waiting to be adopted in England and councils are simply not recruiting enough people to give them stable and loving homes.

“That is why we are open to changing how we recruit new adoptive parents by giving voluntary adoption agencies a bigger role.

“We will look carefully at these proposals from the LGA but if local authorities do not rise to the challenge we won't hesitate to intervene.”

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