Numbers of looked-after children being adopted fall below target

The number of children in care who go on to be
adopted has fallen over the past six months despite a government
commitment to “maximising the contribution adoption can make to
providing permanent families for children”.

Only 2,890 looked-after children were adopted
in the year to the end of September 2001, compared with 3,067
between April 2000 and March 2001.

The latest figures, published last week as
part of the Department of Health’s 2001-2 data for seven social
services performance indicators, amount to only a 7 per cent rise
on adoption rates since 1999-2000.

This is despite a DoH Public Service Agreement
with the Treasury to increase the number of children adopted by 40
per cent by 2004-5 from 2,700 in 1999-2000.

Chief executive of BAAF Adoption and Fostering
Felicity Collier said higher figures in 1999 and 2000 were due
partly to an emphasis on extra placements for a backlog of younger
looked-after children during this period.

She said local authorities were now left with
the more difficult children to place, including older children and
sibling groups.

Collier said the new national adoption
register due to come into force officially next week should reveal
the profile of those children now waiting to be adopted.

“It is imperative to find out the
characteristics of those not yet placed for adoption so you can
make sure recruitment efforts target the right people,” she

She added that the government’s failure to
date to amend the Adoption and Children Bill (see page 12) to allow
unmarried couples to adopt jointly would have a detrimental impact
on the DoH’s adoption target. “We are unable to recruit unmarried
couples to adopt – and that represents 15 per cent of households,”
she said.

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