The government’s controversial adoption score cards have been delayed by local government elections, the Department for Education has revealed.
Due to be published this week, the score cards will not be in the public domain until May, or possibly as late as June, according to a departmental spokesperson.
Some councils have already seen their score cards, however, and are using the delay to check the data is correct.
Matt Dunkley, outgoing president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said directors have reported that some data looked “a bit strange”, with “figures we didn’t recognise”.
The score cards, announced in the government’s adoption action plan, will assess local authority performance against three centrally-set key indicators. Scores will be calculated on a three-year average.
The indicators will measure how long it takes for children to move in with adopters, from the time they entered care; what proportion of those children wait longer for adoption than they should, and the time it takes a council to match a child to a family, once the court has decided adoption is the best option
The final score cards are far from perfect, Dunkley said, but they are a lot better than the government’s first draft.
“At least now we managed to get them to also provide a lot of contextual information, such as the average time spent in court. Just this one extra element can give a completely different look to overall figures about delays,” he said.
But directors are still wary about how the information will be used once the score cards have been published, he added.
“Everything we’ve been told by the DfE so far has been encouraging and if they stick to it then we won’t have any problems,” Dunkley said. “We’ve never had a problem with transparency just as long as the figures used to measure performance are in context.”
His comments follow reports from social workers that the adoption reforms have already made their jobs more difficult.
Social workers told Community Care that some adopters are becoming more hostile and making “unreasonable demands” since the plan was published.
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