Voluntary adoption agencies are to be given a £16m funding boost, which could help recruit up to 2,000 new adopters per year, the government announced today.
The funding, which will be available from later this year until March 2016, includes £15m over the next two years in expansion grants for new and existing agencies. This is expected to boost adopter recruitment and creative working, while agencies will be given new business coaching and guidance to expand their organisations.
Announcing the funding today, children’s minister Edward Timpson said the 23 voluntary adoption agencies in England were being given a “bigger role” to help the 4,000 children whose futures “hang in the balance” while they wait to be adopted.
“We know more than 650,000 people would consider adopting right now, yet more than 700 additional adopters are needed each year to keep up with the growing number of children waiting to be adopted.
Adoption Reform Grant
“What is important is that children who are in need of a permanent, loving home are found one as soon as possible – not who delivers the service,” Timpson said.
Alison Worsley, deputy director for strategy at Barnardo’s, said the charity was delighted at such a welcome boost to the voluntary sector.
“Voluntary adoption agencies such as Barnardo’s offer a critical service, often drawing on invaluable expertise and experience in finding families for those children who are not always top of the pile and wait the longest to be adopted,” she said. “This investment will help to increase numbers of prospective adopters for the thousands of children desperately waiting for their new families.”
The government has also invested £150m, through the Adoption Reform Grant, to help local authorities increase the number of recruited and approved adopters.
Outsourcing threat for councils
The grant includes £100m to support adoption reform, which councils can use to tackle their highest priority needs, and £50m to help councils attract more adopters and tackle local barriers to adopter recruitment.
Ministers have previously warned that councils failing to sufficiently boost their adoption numbers could see parts of their services outsourced to the voluntary sector.
Under the plans, set out in the children and families bill, central government could force councils to outsource the process of assessing and recruiting adopters to the voluntary sector. Ministers could demand this of individual councils, councils that fail against certain criteria or to every local authority in England.
Local authorities and voluntary agencies, including Barnardo’s, have criticised this move, however, saying it risks creating a confusing, disjointed system.
Fears ‘reckless’ government reforms could destroy the adoption system