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The adoption process seeing a widespread delay with only interim thresholds being achieved by many local authorities and many unable to reach even that

Date: (11 May 2012)    |    

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The figures given by the local authority adoption scorecards based for 2009-2011 show a widespread delay throughout the adoption process the Department of Education had announced.
It said that hundreds of children who entered care had to wait on an average 20 months before moving in with their adoptive parents which was six months late than the time limit set out in the national guidance according to the official figures released today.
The figures show 80 local authority areas have met the interim thresholds (of 21 months from entering care to adoption and matching a child to a family within seven months of a court order being made).

But the other 72 did not meet one or both of these key measures, which is to be lowered gradually to 14 months and four months respectively within four years.
The Department says that the figures reveal wide variations across the country and between neighbouring areas.
The Government was now opening discussions with the areas where there was highest concern, by probing the specific issues each one faced and assessing the plans in place to improve performance to ensure they would work. If ministers were not satisfied they would issue formal improvement notices, setting out specific targets, measures and timetables to speed up the adoption process.
Set out in the Action plan for Adoption published in March a new assessment process was intended to reduce bureaucracy and the delays which put off potential adopters and delayed in finding of loving homes for children.
The action plan came after just 3050 children in care, including just 60 babies, found new homes through adoption last year, the lowest since 2001.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said the scorecard was not the final word and the local authorities were not being asked to speed up the adoption process by excluding everything else but several areas needed balancing of high quality placements and the risk of long term damage to children by leaving them with uncertain future.
The scorecards were meant to act as a trigger for urgent, detailed discussions to analyse what the problems were in areas of highest concern.
The Government Adoption Advisor, Martin Narey, said in the past few months, while he visited more than twenty local authorities, he was encouraged by the way the seriousness of adoption delays were being taken on board and the determination of struggling and well performing authorities to improve.
He added that there was now had a growing and serious backlog of children cleared for adoption by the courts but there were too few potential adopters. These scorecards demonstrate the reality that if delays in almost every aspect of the adoption process were not tackled urgently, the list of those in need of the loving home every child deserves would continue to grow.