Online maps make adoption easier
Published 24/12/2013 | 08:17
Would-be adopters have been urged by a minister to use new maps to help match them up more quickly with some of the 6,000 children in need of a home.
The online system includes information for each local council area, such as the ratio of children in need to waiting adopters, approval rates and the time taken to make matches.
First published earlier this year to encourage people to look beyond their own areas, they have now been made interactive.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said "promising progress" was being made towards improving adoption rates but significantly more remained to be done.
An extra £50 million would be provided to local councils to improve services, he said.
"This Christmas I want anyone considering adoption to look carefully at the information in our interactive maps and consider whether they can offer a child a stable and loving home," said the minister, who has two adopted brothers.
"There remains significant work to do next year.
"Our new adoption leadership board will play an important role ensuring local authorities and adoption agencies stay on track and recruit more adopters - and a further £50 million for councils in 2014 will help them put the building blocks in place to implement our reforms."
Department for Education figures show a 34% increase in adopters and adoptions up by a record 15% following the implementation of reforms.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the issue is a personal priority
Adoption UK chief executive Hugh Thornbery said: "It's a really positive time for adoption.
"I'm looking forward to working with others on the adoption leadership board to drive the adoption policy reforms through to making an enduring difference for children who have had the worst possible start in life.
"We've seen a rise in adoptions this year, but we still need more adopters to provide loving homes for some of society's most vulnerable children.
"We know that key to attracting more adopters is the assurance of accessible, timely and appropriate support.
"One of the board's tasks will be to turn the Government's aspirations for better adoption support into reality so that adoptive parents and their children receive the support they need to build strong families and bright futures."
Andrew Webb, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS), said reforms were beginning to result in improvements and welcomed the new measures.
"The creation of a new sector-owned Adoption Leadership Board in conjunction with £50 million of funding to support the further implementation of adoption reforms will help to ensure that every child that needs a new permanent family will be matched with one in a suitable time-scale," he said.
"The reforms announced today will help local authorities to continue to drive up the number of suitable adopters approved and will give every child who needs a new permanent family, for whatever reason, the very best chance of being matched with one."
David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said: "Increased focus on improving adoption services is a positive move, but this isn't new money. It represents a net reduction in funding for local authorities and could impact on services for vulnerable children. This could include early intervention services which can help councils identify children that could benefit from adoption at an early stage.
"Councils have been working hard to recruit more adoptive mums and dads and are doing everything in their power to ensure that vulnerable children get the best start in life. There has been a significant increase in the numbers of children placed in adoptive homes and councils have achieved a 32% increase in the number of adopters approved in the last year.
"The fact remains that we still need thousands more potential adopters to come forward to offer loving homes.
"Councils also rightly acknowledge that there is variation in performance across the country and the LGA is working with the Government to help support improvement. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and decisions must be made on what is in the best interests of each individual child."