A high-profile scheme intended to increase adoptions by allowing would-be adopters to search videos and photos of children has been delayed due to security issues, CYP Now has learned
The Adopter Access Pilot, which was announced by children’s minister Edward Timpson in July, had been due to launch in September. But the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that it is yet to go live. Under the pilot, which is due to run for nine months, 29 councils and voluntary adoption agencies will be able to allow people who have been approved to adopt to search the national Adoption Register.
They will be able to see pictures and videos of the children as well as find out about their hobbies, likes and dislikes. The hope is that by allowing approved adopters to search videos and images, suitable matches will be able to be found more quickly. It has also been suggested that it could make it easier to find homes for more difficult to place children – those who are older, are part of a sibling group, or have complex needs.
A DfE spokesman said it is crucial that the system is “completely secure” before the pilot launches. He said that both the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (Baaf), which runs the Adoption Register, and the DfE are “committed to the security of children’s and families’ data”.“This continues to be our overriding priority,” he said.“This is a new service and it is crucial that we ensure the system is completely secure before launching the pilot.“BAAF have contacted all the agencies involved in the pilot to inform them of the current situation.”The spokesman added that the pilot will be up and running “soon”.
The delay is the second blow to the government’s adoption reforms in as many weeks: earlier this month, CYP Now revealed the number of court orders granted so that children can be adopted – known as placement orders – more than halved in just nine months. The situation has been blamed on local authorities misinterpreting a legal judgment from last year.
Last week, the Adoption Leadership Board published guidance in order to clarify the law for local authorities and encourage them to make applications for placement orders where appropriate.