Exclusive: Shocking decline in adoption rates across the region

Adoption rates are down.

Adoption rates are down.

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ADOPTION RATES are at risk of backtracking on years of progress, it is warned today, as an investigation from The Yorkshire Post lays bare the plight of thousands of children across the region.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that the number of successful placements made by Yorkshire’s biggest councils last year paled in comparison to the number of youngsters in their care - and applications from prospective parents often represented less than 10 per cent of ‘looked after’ youngsters.

“The number of children being adopted has gone up in the last few years. However, last year, there was a significant reduction.”

It is feared that the stark contrast in the number of those in care and the number of successful adoptions is evidence of the impact of recent judgements which are said to have left local councils frightened of removing them from birth families. This includes a High Court ruling in September 2013 from president of the family division Sir James Munby stipulated that social services must provide evidence that “all realistic options” had been considered before severing a child’s ties with its birth family.

In Leeds, 256 children were placed with an adoptive parent or parents last year, but at the end of March there were 1,266 youngsters in the city in the care of children’s services.

Meanwhile in Wakefield, 41 children - all under the age of eight - were made by the end of 2014, while 503 remained in care.

Just 28 of North Yorkshire County Council’s looked after children were placed with parents last year, with the number of under-16s on the district council’s books at 444 in the spring.

Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, a leading charity which supports families, told The Yorkshire Post that while adoption is not always the most suitable option for a child, more could be done to prevent a further fall.

He said: “The figures published at the end of 2014 from the Adoption Leadership Board national show a worrying decline in the number of placement orders across the country. If this trend continues we risk seeing a reversal in the progress we’ve made. This may mean that too many children for whom adoption is the right option are now being denied the opportunity, or waiting too long, to be adopted.”

Application numbers from prospective parents are low across several local authorities. Last year, Leeds had 98, Sheffield received just 52, Wakefield had 22, Doncaster received 30 and in North Yorkshire the figure was 41.

Bradford had the highest number of rejections or opt outs last year, with 24 of the 59 parents applicants being counselled out during the assessment process or withdrawing from it voluntarily.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of its closure, The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)’s adoption development consultant Elaine Dibben...

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