Adoption UK welcomes today’s announcement that the Government will change legislation so courts and local authorities always pursue adoption when it is in a child’s interest.

A fundamental change to the law will make prioritising lifetime stability for vulnerable children with a loving family a legal requirement. The number of decisions for adoption have almost halved over the last two years.

The announcement also includes details of £200m to support improvements in the adoption process including a welcome extension to the Adoption Support Fund.

Adoption UK Chief Executive, Hugh Thornbery said: “This legislation and funding announcement is extremely good news for all of those involved in trying to improve services for adoptive families and adopted children.  It’s vital, when planning for permanence, that all the child’s needs are considered as we know from the experience of our members that many children require highly specialised and therapeutic parenting to overcome early traumatic experiences. We encourage the Government to give due consideration to the need for there to be the best possible assessments of children’s needs to assist the robust decision-making they have described.”

Mr Thornbery continued: “I’m particularly pleased to see further commitment given to the long-term future of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). The progress of the ASF since its national roll out in May, last year, is really encouraging but we’re concerned that some adopters are still struggling to secure an assessment. We hope to see a marked increase in support services to meet demand as a consequence of the establishment of regional agencies. The security of funding until 2020, which will increase each year, will encourage providers to expand their services to fulfil unmet need. It’s essential that the regional agencies are focused on ensuring there’s sufficient supply of adoption support through active engagement with the independent sector. 

“We know from our members that many appreciate the dedication of those working in adoption agencies. We also know there’s a significant skills and knowledge deficit in assessment, both to inform matching and post placement support. Unless assessment skills improve we’ll continue to be troubled by cases going to appeal on the basis of incomplete or insufficient assessments.”

Mr Thornbery said he welcomed the continuation of the payment of the interagency fee by Government, “if it achieves matches more successfully”, and he is pleased to see continuing investment in the development of Regional Adoption Agencies (RAA).

He said: “This investment must support each RAA to effectively plan for the improvements in children’s outcomes that drive the regionalisation. This must include an examination of what constitutes best practice and its adoption of it.”

Mr Thornbery added: “We must also understand and respond to the significant pressures that overstretched Children’s Services Department are under with increased referrals and diminishing resources.”

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