Adoption move ‘too heavy’ say councils

Government plans to strip councils of responsibility for adoption if they are slow to find children new families could be damaging to vulnerable youngsters, it has been claimed.

Councils have twice the success rate of independent adoptive agencies, and the shake-up could adversely affect not just children but potential adoptive parents, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The proposals were also described as “heavy handed and unnecessary” by children’s services bosses.

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Ministers are planning to announce that councils who take too long to find children in care new homes will have the task handed over to private agencies and charities, it has been reported.

The LGA claims come just days after children’s charity Barnardo’s published figures showing there were now 7,000 youngsters waiting to be adopted – the most since 2007.

The latest initiative, involving a change in the law, is part of a bid under Education Secretary Michael Gove to speed up the adoption process, which is often held up by bureaucratic hurdles and a shortage of prospective adopters, according to one newspaper report.

Some councils have already taken the approach of outsourcing to the voluntary sector the day-to-day job of finding suitable adoptive parents, and Ministers have urged more to do the same.

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The LGA warned against the latest move, saying it should only be considered “as a very last resort”.

Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board said: “Recent figures show councils have twice the success rate of independent adoption agencies.

“Removing councils from the process of recruiting and screening potential adopters could adversely impact on the very children and potential adoptive parents the Government is trying to protect and should only be considered as a very last resort.”