Former Barnardo’s chief Martin Narey is to review Kent Council’s adoption services, it was announced today.
Narey, who has previously spoken out about the need to raise national adoption rates, has been asked to focus on increasing Kent’s rate and on how the council can work with family courts to speed placements.
Jenny Whittle, cabinet member for Kent’s specialist children’s services, said it was a “real coup for Kent to get someone of Narey’s experience and expertise”.
“Like him, I am concerned about the decreased adoption rate nationally and believe that there are ways to stem the tide and improve things for children, adopters, social workers and the courts,” Whittle said.
Narey said: “Kent deserves great credit for stepping forward to see whether and how adoptions can be increased in number and completed sooner. If they are successful, the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children in the county will be changed dramatically for the better.”
Narey left children’s charity Barnardo’s in January after six years to spend more time with his family. He will begin his research into Kent’s adoption services in July, reporting his findings in the autumn.
The news should mark a more positive future for Kent’s children’s services, which last year was ordered to improve its child protection services after an inadequate Ofsted rating.
An audit to turn around services found that more than 500 cases needed new management plans and at one point 2,700 did not have a social worker allocated.
This month the council was criticised by a High Court judge when it emerged that a convicted paedophile had been allowed to foster a child because formal identity checks had not been completed. The council publicly apologised for the failing.
In September, national figures revealed that the number of children placed for adoption fell by 15% last year and aboout 25% of children with an adoption plan were never successfully matched with an adoptive family.
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