Councils will be legally required to consider fostering for adoption wherever appropriate and tell prospective adopters about their entitlement to adoption support under new regulations.
The draft regulations, published for consultation today alongside guidance, mark the next step towards implementation of the government’s comprehensive adoption.
They will require councils to consider fostering for adoption, wherever appropriate, and ensure the ethnicity of a child and a prospective family is not prioritised over other factions during the adoption matching process.
Councils will also be legally obliged to tell prospective adopters about their entitlement to adoption support, while adopters will be able to play a more active role in identifying children they may want to adopt when restrictions are removed on the adoption register.
Announcing the consultation, children’s minister Edward Timpson said the reforms will ensure children are given stable homes more quickly and make it easier for social workers to follow the new processes when considering adoption for children.
“It means they can make the best possible decisions in the interests of the 6,000 children waiting for a loving home,” he said.
The revised statutory guidance has been refocused to help social workers place children with adoptive parents more quickly, engage adopters in the process much sooner and provide support to properly meet the needs of adopted children and their new families.
Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) said: “It is so important that social workers are given the credit they are due for the effort they put in to adoption work that has resulted in improvements in adoption rates.
“Nevertheless, when we consider adoption reform, we also need to remind ourselves of some of the key messages from the Munro review about the distinction between good practice and the pressure to rigidly adhere to processes and procedures.
“A good adoption service is about getting things right for children and this sometimes may mean taking a little more time to ensure that practice is thorough and robust. The government also has to ensure there is enough capacity in the system to meet the additional demands being made of it.”
The draft regulations follow a number of reforms implemented last year, including a two-stage approval process so the majority of adopters are approved to adopt within six months and a legal duty on all adoption agencies to refer prospective adopters to the Adoption Register within three months of approval.