A record number of children have been adopted in the last 12 months, with figures from the Department for Education (DfE) showing an increase of 26% from last year.
This means the number of yearly adoptions has increased by 63% since 2011, when ministers first launched their drive to increase the number of permanent interventions for children in care. The time between entry to care and adoption has also fallen two months since 2013, now taking 2 years and 4 months on average.
Government reforms have included removing the need for council’s to give consideration to children’s ethnic backgrounds whilst placing them, introducing new rules that require councils to actively consider fostering for adoption places where appropriate and extending Pupil Premium funding and priority school admissions for adopted children.
In total, 5,050 children were adopted between April 2013 and March 2014, compared to 4,010 the previous year and the highest number since current data collection began in 1992.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan has said: “This means thousands more of our most vulnerable are children finding the loving and permanent homes they so desperately need.”
“The system is working more quickly, as well as providing more support to families after an adoption has taken place.”
The full looked after children statistics published by the DfE showed that over 68,000 children are looked after in 2014, a small increase on the figures published in 2013.
Hugh Thornberry, Chief executive at Adoption UK, reacted positively to the news: “The increase in adoptions is encouraging as is the news that children are spending less time in care waiting to be adopted.”
“Adoption offers positive outcomes for children from the care system, providing them with a permanent family that many of them might not have if they remained in the system,” Thornberry said.
He warned however of the “worrying” decline in the number of placement orders made over the latter half of the year, which could risk a reversal in the progress made over the preceding 30 months.
Thornberry said: “It would be a tragedy if all the progress we have made over the last five years in ensuring adoption happens for those children for whom it is exactly the right option are lost and we end up back where we started.”