Education secretary Nicky Morgan has been accused of “insulting” foster carers by excessively focusing on adoption compared with other permanence options.
Andy Elvin, chief executive of TACT Fostering & Adoption, criticised the government for belittling foster care and said the secretary of state should “immediately apologise”.
“Seventy-five percent of children in care are in foster care, 5% of children who enter care each year go forward [to be] adopted. These statistics are not going to change appreciably. For government ministers to constantly decry foster care as some sort of substandard waiting room for adoption is both inaccurate and deeply unintelligent,” Elvin said.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said Morgan and the government were “consistently promoting the message that adoption is the gold standard of permanence despite the lack of research into adoption outcomes, and that all other permanence options are second best and inadequate”.
In an announcement about adoption reforms, Morgan said: “Every single day a child spends waiting in care is a further delay to a life full of love and stability – and this simply isn’t good enough. We have a responsibility to transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve.”
Not good enough
But this angered Williams, who used Morgan’s own phrase and said her statement “simply isn’t good enough”.
“While adoption can be the best option for some children, for the vast majority of children in care other permanency options will better meet their needs,” he added.
“We are tired of listening to those options being denigrated by politicians who, because they have the platform to speak and work as the ultimate corporate parent for all children in care, ought to know better.”
This is the second time in recent months the government has been criticised for comments on adoption, following an outcry over the way David Cameron spoke about adoption in comparison with other care options last year.
Aaagh! Adoption rhetoric from PM now includes 'warm' in addition to 'loving' homes. Do foster carers struggle to heat their houses?
— Andy Leary-May (@learymay) November 4, 2015
Williams added: “The secretary of state said that ‘We have a responsibility to transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve’. We, and the thousands of foster carers across the country, couldn’t agree more. Foster carers are committed to helping the children they care for to aim high and fulfil their potential; now we, they, and the young people they’re caring for need to know that the government respects, values and supports what they do.”