British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering has called for more
funding in response to the government’s announcement of a new
national target to speed up the adoption process,
writes Jonathan Pearce.
BAAF has backed health minister Jacqui Smith’s
announcement of a public service agreement (PSA) target that by the
end of March 2005 at least 95 per cent of looked-after children who
are waiting for adoption should be placed within 12 months.
But chief executive Felicity Collier added it was “vital” the
government allocated more funding for adoption activity “to ensure
local authorities are able to provide the range of support services
necessary if adopters are to come forward for our most challenging
The PSA is the latest part in the government’s drive to
improve adoption services, which began with the adoption white
paper over a year ago, and has also included the publication of
National Adoption Standards, the launch of a National Adoption
Register and the introduction of the Adoption and Children Bill
currently before parliament.
Smith described the latest target as “challenging and
ambitious”, but “achievable”.
The rest of the PSA embraces the government’s already
stated commitment to see the number of children adopted from care
increased by 40 per cent, if possible 50 per cent, by 2004/5
– up from 2,700 in 1999/00.
The PSA targets will be monitored on a national basis through a
new annual adoption statistical collection. The targets are
supported by the national standards, which include an expectation
that the usual timescale between the best interest decision and a
suitable match being identified and agreed should be six months,
except when this would not be in the best interests of the child.
Local authorities and adoption agencies have until April 2003 to
implement the standards.
“We estimate that an extra 5,000 families are needed every year
to meet these targets on adoption,” said Collier. “My concern is
that social workers must not be discouraged from making adoption
plans because families are not readily available when greater
resources could make placements possible within the new
Local Authority Circular LAC(2001)33 available from www.doh.gov.uk/adoption