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Ofsted tightens adoption rules

Adoption rules are set to be made more stringent, with a greater emphasis on speed and whether siblings are kept together, Ofsted has announced.

From April, local authorities inEnglandwill only be awarded an ‘outstanding’ rating if they manage to place children within 12 months. Recent research suggests the average wait is 2 years and 7 months.

Inspectors will look at how early adoption is considered and if it is considered as an option for all children in care. Support and the vetting process for people looking to adopt will be inspected more closely.

John Goldup, Ofsted’s deputy chief inspector, said: “It is essential that children in care, often the most vulnerable, get the very best support to have a happy, stable and fulfilling childhood.

“Our scrutiny of delays in the adoption process will help focus and bring forward a smooth and quicker adoption process. The earlier children are identified for adoption and placed with a family the better the chances that adoption will be successful.”

The Government is seeking to speed up the adoption process and cut bureaucracy. Children’s minister Tim Loughton said: “Finding stable placements for vulnerable looked after children must be a top priority for local authorities, but there is currently too much inconsistency and variation.

“I want to see radical improvements to ensure that all children who would benefit from adoption are placed as quickly as possible to make sure they get the start in life they deserve.”

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said: “We acknowledge that there is a variation in performance across councils and recognise that at times the system has been risk averse, but we want to work with government to change that and remove barriers that delay decisions, including tackling the significant delays in the family courts.”

Image c. Dave Buchwald

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