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Adoption UK encouraged by measures unveiled in Queen’s Speech to speed up adoption process

Published: 19.05.16

Adoption UK has hailed the Children and Social Work Bill, unveiled in Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech, as a huge opportunity for the Government to improve the life chances of looked after and adopted children in England.
Adoption UK encouraged by measures unveiled in Queen’s Speech to speed up adoption process

The Government said the bill will “tip the balance in favour of permanent adoption, where that is the right thing for the child...” 

Responding to the bill, Hugh Thornbery CBE, Adoption UK’s chief executive, said: “We know delay is damaging for children in care so I’m delighted that this bill will enable the Government to further speed up adoption procedures.

“This has been an enduring theme for this Government, and the Coalition Government before it. Two years ago children waited 22 months between entering care and being placed with adoptive families whereas they now wait, on average, 17 months. Hopefully this bill will enable the waiting time to be further reduced.”

Under the bill, court decisions about adoption, or other long term placement options, will also take account of the needs of children arising from abuse and neglect.

Mr Thornbery said: “The main issues, I think, and we’ll perhaps see some more detail on this later on, are around ensuring children are placed in the right set of arrangements so: a better assessment of their needs and a better assessment of what different options are available - because there are other options to adoption. It’s about ensuring that whoever these children are placed with, have the ability to be able to parent them well, given the trauma these children are likely to have experienced before they came into care.”

There will also be a duty on councils and schools to promote educational achievement for adopted children.

Mr Thornbery continued: “We have been campaigning for some time for a better understanding of adopted children in the classroom so I am particularly pleased that the role of the Virtual School Head and designated teachers will be extended to adopted children, in England, under this bill.

“There’s still a need for better access to support because these children’s needs don’t just disappear the moment they’re adopted, many endure into young adulthood, so we’ll continue to press the Government on this point.

Mr Thornbery warned there is the potential for misunderstanding something very briefly stated by the Prime Minister, or in the Queen’s Speech, without the detail behind it.

He said: The most important thing is the law will continue to require a range of different options to be looked at. There is always likely to be preference to keep a child within their own family because that is obviously the best thing to be doing - if that family, even if it’s an extended family, can effectively care for that child. Adoption, because it's such a big step to forever sever a link between a birth parent and their child, is only going to be used in a minority of cases. But it’s important that when adoption is the preferred option, the process to get that child adopted runs as smoothly and as quickly as possible. It’s important that we don’t cut corners but it's certainly the case that some adoptions are taking far too long, to the detriment of the child.”