New rules to speed up the adoption system and ensure more children get a stable, loving home without delay will come into force in July.
Building on the successes of 2013, which saw a record 15% increase in adoptions, the changes announced today will reduce delays for black and ethnic minority children and give adopters a much more active role in finding children they might be suitable to adopt.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson – who has 2 adopted brothers – said:
“We’ve seen promising progress in the last 12 months – a significant rise in adoptions and a huge increase in the number of adopters, but I’m determined to do everything in my power to make sure the 6,000 children waiting are offered safe and caring homes.“
“Our reforms to the register, greater use of fostering for adoption and the removal of unnecessary delay will mean would-be adopters can play a greater role in the process and help ensure children are placed with a new loving family much more quickly.”
The package represents another giant leap in overhauling the adoption system, and includes:
• Removing barriers by ensuring ethnicity is not prioritised over other factors – such as the ability to provide a stable, loving home
• Scrapping restrictions on the register so approved adopters can actively search for children they could provide a family for
• Introducing new rules requiring councils to actively consider fostering for adoption places where appropriate – allowing children to move in with their adoptive family much earlier
• Placing a mandatory requirement on all councils to tell prospective adopters about their entitlements
Research published last year by the Department for Education shows that over 4 million people in England are likely to consider adopting at some point in the future, yet up and down the country there are still 6,000 children waiting for safe, new homes.
The government has also introduced the adoption passport, which sets out the rights and entitlements of adoptive parents, and the new online adoption maps, which allow potential adopters to find out more information about services in their area.
In addition, we’ve dedicated over £19 million to help adoptive families access the tailored, specialist support they need, and have extended the entitlements that children in care have, so these continue once the child has been adopted. This includes access to priority school admissions, the pupil premium, and, from September 2014, eligibility for free early education for 2-year-olds.
We have extended the Adoption Reform Grant into 2014, providing £50 million to councils to support them in implementing the changes in the Children and Families Act. We have also introduced a faster approval process so the majority of people are approved within 6 months, and introduced new rules so prospective adopters and children are placed on the adoption register within 3 months.