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24 JUL 2013

Children aged 5 and above take over a year longer to be adopted

By Symi Elwin

Child alone (posed by actor)Children aged 5 and above take over a year longer to be adopted than children aged under 5, according to a new report from the Department of Education.    

Information from the Department of Education's quarterly survey on adoption suggests that the placement process takes considerably longer for older children. Children aged 5 and over at the time of placement take on average 2 years and 9 months to be placed with their adoptive family.

Figures from the survey also showed that children who were from sibling groups, had disabilities or were from a black and minority ethnic group (BME) also had extended waiting time before they were placed with their adoptive family. On average the adoption process for children who came under these categories takes 1 year and 10 months longer than if they were aged 5 and under. It was also found that boys take on average 6 weeks longer than girls before they are placed with their adoptive family.

In December 2012 the proportion of children from sibling groups, with disabilities or BME groups who were awaiting adoption was higher than the number of children placed in their adoptive families.  From the 2,860 children who were still waiting to be placed with their adopted family by the end of December 2012, 7% were disabled, 49% were from sibling groups, 17% came from BME groups and 36% from aged 5 and over.

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is supporting a new scheme launched by an independent accounting and business advisory firm Baker Tilly and the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA). The scheme ‘It's All About Me' has been set up to help families who are adopting children over the age of 5, sibling groups, children with disabilities and children from BME groups. The scheme, which includes 24 hour support in the first two years of adoption, will hopefully enable a rise in the number of children being adopted who come under the categories of being harder to place.

Jim Clifford OBE is Head of Not-for-Profit advisory at Baker Tilly, and the Chair designate of IAAM. He is also a father to nine adopted children, and one of the architects of the scheme. He said:  "There are far too many children on the National Adoption Register who are never placed with adoptive parents. There are many complex reasons for this, but through this scheme, we can encourage, equip and support more families to adopt these children.

"Many of these young people carry with them the legacy of early years' neglect and trauma. It isn't always easy, but with the right training and support, it can be so very rewarding for parents who help turn young people's lives around."

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