21 August 2013
Rise in adoption figures not the whole picture
The number of children successfully adopted rose to its highest level in eight years, according to new figures.
The Office for National Statistics report revealed numbers rose by 10 per cent between 2011 and 2012 to the highest level since 2005. More than 5,200 children were given parents in 2012 – an increase of 9.8 per cent from the previous year.
It is reported that children in care wait an average of nearly 21 months before finding a home – in some areas almost three years – and there are 67,000 children in foster or care homes.
The Office for National Statistics said: "It is possible that the increased number of adoptions in 2012 could be a consequence of the recent drive to improve the adoptions process in England and in Wales."
Education secretary Michael Gove, adopted himself, has been pushing to "radically" speed up the time taken to place children with a family and in 2012 the government announced they would be giving local authorities score cards which rated their performance on adoption.
The Action Plan for Adoption set tighter deadlines for social workers to complete each stage of the process for each child in an effort to speed it up and provided a £150 million grant for local authorities to spend on adoption recruitment reform, with Voluntary Adoption Agencies given almost £16 million last month to expand.
Six out of 10 (63 per cent) of those adopted were aged between one and four years, up from 62 per cent in 2011. Fewer older children – who are considered harder to place due to more complex problems – were adopted last year than at any point before.
Phil Green, campaign manager for Home for Good, said: "We are delighted to hear that children are finding homes for good, and we're encouraged by the efforts being made by the government to ensure that the adoption process is effective.
"The majority of adoptions that take place are of children under the age of four. The Home for Good campaign is encouraging Christians to consider providing loving homes for children that are, tragically, considered to be 'hard to place' – teenagers, children from certain ethnic backgrounds, sibling groups or children with disabilities."
The Home for Good initiative, spearheaded by Care for the Family, CCPAS and Evangelical Alliance, aims to make fostering and adoption a normal part of church life – by not only encouraging people to consider doing it, but by creating churches that are welcoming to children in care, and supportive of adoptive families and foster carers. Home for Good are encouraging churches to take part in Adoption Sunday on 3 November.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We welcome any rise in the rate of adoption. In England, too many children are waiting too long for loving, stable families. We are overhauling the system – simplifying the process for parents who want to adopt and giving them clear, independent information. We have also been clear that we expect councils to recruit more adopters and provide children with loving homes swiftly."
If you think that adoption of fostering might be for you, phone 0300 222 5950 for an informal chat with someone who can answer your questions. (This service is provided by First4Adoption on behalf of Home for Good).