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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

09 MAR 2012

Government announces speedier adoption process

Child - ActorThe Prime Minister will today set out proposed changes to legislation to ensure that, when adoption is in a child's best interests, they take place as soon as possible.

 The average time between a child entering care and moving in with their adoptive family is one year and nine months but the Government believes this is too long.

 Evidence shows that every week of delay in giving young children a stable, long-term home harms their development and means they are more likely to develop behavioural and attachment problems.

 Ahead of the Government's Adoption Action Plan next week, today the Prime Minister will outline how to speed up the process for vulnerable children.

The three key measures are:

  • Local authorities will be required to reduce delays in all cases and will not be able to delay an adoption for the perfect match if there are other suitable adopters available. The ethnicity of a child and the prospective adopters will, in most cases, come second to the speed of placing a child in a loving home.
  • Proposed changes to legislation will make it easier for children to be fostered by approved prospective adopters while the courts consider the case for adoption. This will mean they stay in one home with the same parents, first as foster carers, and then as adopted parents if the court agrees to adoption.
  • If a match has not been found locally within three months of a child being recommended for adoption, LAs will have to refer them to the national Adoption Register so they can find a match in a wider pool of prospective adopters.

The Prime Minister said: "Every child deserves the love of a stable family - and that's why I've made sorting out and speeding up adoption in this country a priority.

 "There's no more urgent task for government than this. Young lives are being wasted while the process takes its toll - and the victims are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society. You can't put children's futures on hold while the system gets round to dealing with their case.

"So this government is going to tear down the barriers that stop good, caring potential adoptive parents from giving a home to children who so desperately need one."

 A recent pilot project funded by the Department revealed that there was a lack of urgency in social workers using the national adoption register which meant that possible matches were not followed up for several weeks.

New regulations will require information about a child to be kept up to date so that prospective adopters have the best understanding of a child's needs when they are considering a match.

The announcement was welcomed by Barnardo's Chief Executive, Anne Marie Carrie:  "Barnardo's welcomes the government's efforts to speed up the adoption process. Everyone should be mindful of the damage that is done the longer a child is without the love and stability of a permanent home and family.

"Matching the child with the right family is very important but the child's overwhelming need is for a consistently caring family, and ethnicity should not be used as a reason for delay."

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