Former Barnardo’s chief Martin Narey will be tasked with encouraging “sceptical” social workers to see adoption as an option for more children in care in his role as the government’s first adoption tsar.
The Department for Education will confirm his appointment with a formal announcement this week as further details emerged today on Narey’s role.
Community Care first broke the news last week that the government had appointed a high profile figure to champion adoption and that Narey – who has been working with ministers and a national newspaper to produce a special report on adoption – was the favourite to get the role.
It was today confirmed that The Times has commissioned Narey to produce a special report on adoption and that he will be known as the ministerial adviser on adoption.
He will be charged with putting pressure on local authorities to improve adoption success rates, looking at how the adoption processes can be improved and identifying areas where councils and courts are duplicating each other’s work.
Sources have told Community Care that Narey’s appointment “fits with this government’s clear desire to boost adoption rates for children in care”. But some have questioned whether the former prison service chief has the relevant expertise.
A spokesperson for the Independent Children’s Homes Association also raised concern that the move could limit other options for children in care.
“The worry is that a focus on adoption will take other options to the back of the queue although they may be the best option for some children. There are some young people who need a residential placement early and would make it their first choice.”
He pointed out children’s homes often had to deal with the the end results of swift but inappropriate adoptions where the placement broke down and children ended up coming back into care. “It is one thing to increase adoption but not if it means more breakdowns,” the spokesperson said.
In February education secretary Michael Gove – who was adopted as a baby himself – and children’s minister Tim Loughton launched updated adoption guidance intended to remove barriers to successful adoptions for children in care. In particular, they stressed the importance of reducing systemic delays and said ethnicity should never be a barrier to successful adoptions.
Narey, who left Barnardo’s in January, is also set to review Kent Council’s adoption services after Ofsted rated the council’s children’s services as inadequate. He will begin his work this month and will report back to the council with his findings in the autumn.
He hit the headlines in January when he said adoption rates nationally needed to double within three years.
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