Assessments for special guardianship orders are to become more thorough, the government has announced.
Regulations for the assessment of special guardians, which have been criticised for being too short and potentially inadequate when compared to the assessment for foster carers and adopters, will be changed so that councils have to undertake more thorough checks before going forward with a placement.
The government recently undertook a review of special guardianship orders amid concerns about how they were being used. There has been a 170% rise in special guardianship placements in the past five years. In 2010, 1,290 children left care for a special guardianship order, 3,520 did likewise in 2015.
The changes would put more of an emphasis on placing children with relatives the child has a strong bond with, rather than distant, unsuitable relations.
Speeding up adoptions
David Cameron also announced new measures today to try to double the number of children placed with an adoptive family sooner, without having to wait for the full process to be completed.
Councils will have to reveal how many children they place with adoptive families before the full process is complete, he announced, and the government believes this will encourage earlier placement for a child in their adoptive family.
Around 10% of adopted children are placed with families early, and the government has challenged councils to double it.
The government is also “actively considering changes to adoption law”, and ministers will look at proposals “so that where adoption is the right thing for children, social workers and courts pursue this”.
Placement orders fall
The announcement came on the day that Adoption Leadership Board statistics showed that the number of placement orders fell again from April to June this year. The number of Agency Decision Maker decisions made for adoption also fell. The number of placement orders for adoption being made have halved since 2013.
Councils will be forced to have plans to merge their adoption services regional adoption agencies by 2017 under new legislative powers from the government, it was also announced, and the whole adoption system will be run by regional agencies by 2020. Since the move to regional adoption agencies was announced earlier this year, 140 councils have applied to merge and streamline their services, the government said.
David Cameron said: “It is a tragedy that there are still too many children waiting to be placed with a loving family – we have made real progress but it remains a problem.”
He added: “I want to make sure that we do everything we can so children are placed in a loving home as soon as possible, giving them the best chance for a happy and fulfilled life.”