Councils must cut out delays in adoption

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson has said that councils must do more to drive out delays in the adoption process.

The Minister has announced that children must not be deprived of permanent, loving family care because of local authority delays.

The government has recently released its second set of adoption scorecards, which show how quickly children were adopted between April 2009 and March 2012. The latest scorecards show that the time it takes different councils to place children from care with families can vary significantly. For 15 local councils the process has been taking less than a year, whereas other authorities have been taking an average of two and a half years.

The scorecards record the average time between a council receiving court approval to place a child, and the council deciding on a suitable adoptive family. They also look at the average time between a child entering care and being placed with a family.

According to this new data, 37 councils have failed to meet both of these thresholds.

Mr Timpson, who has two adopted brothers, said:

“Children awaiting adoption deserve to be placed with loving families more quickly. Instability can cause real damage to a child’s chances. It’s crucial that we make sure that paperwork and processes do not lead to unnecessary delays.”

The Minister added:

“It is not acceptable that children wait several hundred days longer to be placed with adoptive families in some areas of the country. The slowest councils must do better. I am pleased, however, that some councils have done better by working hard to place more children in care with adoptive parents more swiftly.”

Government Adoption Advisor Martin Narey said:

“Despite the early scepticism about the scorecards it has been very clear to me that they have made a positive difference. I think they have demonstrated that the notion that completing adoptions reasonably speedily is in any way likely to threaten the success of an adoption is a myth.”

Mr Narey continued:

“As the scorecards demonstrate the best local authorities combine quality of delivery with speed of delivery. And as a result, children benefit.”

The next set of adoption scorecards will be published next autumn, and annually thereafter.

Photo by Lance Shields via, under a Creative Commons license.

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