Leading adoption charity and agency, Adoption Matters, has welcomed today’s announcement from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan that the law will be fundamentally changed to prioritise permanence and therapeutic care in decisions as part of the Government’s drive to increase the number and quality of adoptions.
The Government has said it will ‘quickly’ change legislation to make sure Local Authorities and courts prioritise placements on the basis of whether they will provide care up to the child’s 18th birthday, and provide the quality of care the child will need to recover from abuse and neglect, which still remains a key reason why children enter care and may later suffer a placement breakdown.
The change would mean that courts and Local Authorities always pursue adoption when this is in a child’s interests. Morgan said they would “make sure decisions rightly prioritise children’s long-term stability”.
Norman Goodwin CBE, Chief Executive of adoption charity Adoption Matters welcomed the announcement and commented: “This is great news for the adoption sector and we hope this will mean that more children will have their chance of adoption again, something they should always have”.
The law change follows a fall of approximately 50% in the number of decisions for adoption made by courts and Local Authorities in the UK over the past two years, an effect of the Re B-S judgment, which was perceived to have raised the bar in terms of what evidence a court required Local Authorities to provide in order to approve an adoption.
The Government has also announced that it will extend the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) for the next four years, now providing additional support immediately to families from the time of placement as well as after the placement order is made. The Government has pledged to spend £200m over this parliament to support adoption which also includes the continuation of payment of the inter-agency fee to Local Authorities placing ‘harder-to-place’ children: ie those with complex needs and/or disabilities, from BME backgrounds, in sibling groups, aged 4 and over and those who have been waiting in the care system for over 12 months.
On this additional support funding Adoption Matters Chief Executive, Norman Goodwin CBE, commented:
“The long term funding of the Adoption Support Fund is welcome news. We have always offered our adoptive families ‘life-long support’ but we are aware of the pressures our colleagues in local authorities are under in providing this additional support. Through our partnership with regional adoption agencies, our Centre for Adoption Support, which offers vital therapeutic support and training, can now assist more families over the next 4 years and beyond”.