Adoption system overhaul planned
The Government has announced plans to overhaul the assessment process for people looking to adopt amid concerns that the current system is too slow and not fit for purpose.
Currently it can take more than a year for a potential candidate to be given approval, leaving thousands of children in care waiting months or even years for a family.
Children's minister Tim Loughton has asked a group of experts to draw up a new system to recruit and assess individuals as adoptive parents.
Government adviser Martin Narey, former chief executive of the charity Barnardo's, welcomed reform to a process which has driven couples to adopt from overseas.
"I am simply delighted that the Children's Minister has decided to set it aside and start again. This is a significant moment. We made the system work more quickly in the past and have increased adoptions, only for numbers to fall back again. But this will, I believe, ensure a permanent increase."
According to the latest Government statistics, children wait an average of two years and seven months before being adopted, while this process takes more than three years in a quarter of cases.
Potentially suitable adoptive parents are often turned away because they may not be the right ethnic match, are overweight or may have smoked.
"The assessment process for people wanting to adopt is painfully slow, repetitive and ineffective," Mr Loughton said.
David Holmes, of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, welcomed the review but warned that speed "isn't everything".
"We want the process to be as efficient as possible, to work as well as possible and really importantly, to be as consistent as possible across the country because we know how important it is to have a supply of adopters ready and waiting to adopt those children who are waiting," he told BBC Breakfast.