Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Guide for would-be adopters issued

Children's minister Edward Timpson says the Government is overhauling the system to encourage more people to adopt

Ministers have published a new guide for would-be adopters amid concerns that hundreds of thousands are turned off by the process.

The Government said its "adoption passport" will set out the support available for people who want to adopt a child.

The move is part of an ongoing bid by the Government to improve and speed up the adoption process due to concerns that children are waiting too long to find a new home.

Latest figures show children in England are in care for nearly 21 months on average before being adopted. In some areas, youngsters are forced to wait almost three years before moving in with an adoptive family.

The new "passport" is expected to set out the help that adopters could be eligible for, including paid adoption leave, priority access to social housing, priority admission for school places and support services such as counselling. It will be available on the First4adoption website.

Children's Minister Edward Timpson said: "For too long children have been left waiting - in many cases over two years - for the stable, loving homes whilst prospective adopters have been dissuaded from offering those children the security they need. So we're overhauling the system to encourage more people to adopt, and making it swifter, more effective and robust."

Ministers also confirmed they are pressing ahead with plans to overhaul the adoption and fostering system. Under the plans there will be a two-stage approval process for adopters, which the Government insists will make the system swifter and mean the majority of adopters are approved within six months. There will also be a "fast-track" system for previously approved foster carers and adopters.

Janet Grauberg, director of strategy at Barnardo's said: "The changes to the adoption system announced today are to be commended. More support for adoptive families teamed with a faster system could result in real improvements for the backlog of children currently waiting for a home."

Andrew Webb, of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS), said: "By giving the reforms a chance to bed in, children waiting for adoption should see real changes in the system, allowing more of them to be matched and placed with a new adoptive family ... However the issue of access to specialist services such as Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has yet to be resolved."

Nushra Mansuri, of the British Association of Social Workers, said: "The new 'adoption passport' is a step in the right direction but we want to see post-adoption support become a statutory right at any point when it is needed by adoptive families."

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