Statistics highlight adoption delays

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Local authorities are failing to meet targets for tackling delays in the adoption process, according to data published by the Department for Education.

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Government figures show that 6,000 children are waiting to be adopted

‘Scorecards’ measuring the timeliness of local authorities and other adoption agencies in placing children in adoptive families show that overall there has been no improvement between 2009-2012.

The Government introduced scorecards in March 2012 as part of a new approach to address delays in the adoption system, with targets set for the time between a child entering care and moving in with an adoptive family, and the time between a local authority receiving court authority to place a child and the local authority deciding on a match to an adoptive family.

According to the most recent data, which covers the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2013, only 36 local authorities met both targets, while 65 failed to meet either.

According to the DfE, 6,000 children approved by the courts for adoption are currently waiting to be placed with adoptive families

While the DfE acknowledged the findings were ‘disappointing’, it pointed out that the data does not cover 2013-2014, in which changes were made to the adoption system including £150million worth of funding for local authorities to boost adopter recruitment and the introduction of the new two-stage assessment and approval process for adopters.

Further changes to the adoption system have been announced for 2014, with £50million pledged for councils to recruit more adopters, and a new adoption leadership board to be set up to support local authorities in driving through the reforms in the Children and Families Bill.

Interactive maps on the First4Adoption website (www.first4adoption.org.uk) will help would-be adopters find out more about agencies in their area and across the country.

Children’s minister Edward Timpson has written to all local authorities to stress that meeting the scorecard targets will need an increasingly sharp focus, as they will be raised annually until 2016.

He will be notifying some local authorities of plans for further work to share effective practice and secure faster improvements where there are concerns, the DfE said.