Quicker adoptions plan to end 'tragedy' of long waits for children
The adoption process will be speeded up to end the "tragedy" of children waiting for long periods to be placed with a new family, David Cameron has announced.
The Prime Minister wants to double the number of children - currently around 10% - being placed with adoptive families before legal proceedings have been completed.
Mr Cameron said that although progress had been made on the issue he wanted to see further action.
"It is a tragedy that there are still too many children waiting to be placed with a loving family - we have made real progress but it remains a problem," he said.
"As Prime Minister I want to make sure that we do everything we can so children are placed in a loving home as soon as possible, giving them the best chance for a happy and fulfilled life."
Nearly half of English councils - 68 out of 152 - had no children placed with their adoptive families early, according to the most recent figures.
Mr Cameron has called for the numbers of early placemen ts to double, meaning 500 more children could be settled in their adoptive homes sooner.
As part of the plans, a ll councils will be required to say how many children go to live with their families early.
Ministers believe early placement schemes can reduce by half the time families wait for legalities to be finalised.
Councils will also be subject to tougher regulations around special guardianship orders to avoid children being sent to live with "distant unsuitable relations they have never met", the announcement said.
There are also plans to merge council services into regional adoption agencies over the next five years.
Officials believe the creation of regional agencies will mean that in most areas children will have immediate access to up to 10 times more prospective adopters.
Mr Cameron spent about an hour speaking to families and staff at the Coram adoption agency in King's Cross in central London.
He said the new measures will help speed up the adoption process.
"This is about making sure more children get a good start in life, have the loving, warm family home that all of us want.
"And so what we have seen is a 72% increase in the number of children being adopted, that's good, we have seen a five month reduction in the waiting time before children get adopted, that's good.
"But we need to do far more. It is still too bureaucratic, it does take too long.
"Also if we put local authorities together into regions they will be able to have more parents available to adopt children and more children for those parents to adopt. So it's a very sensible move.
"I want more children adopted more quickly. It is good for them, it is good for the parents, it is good for our country."