Concern over adopter numbers as figures show ‘no continued decline’ in adoptions

Adoption decisions and placement orders have stabilised since landmark court judgements caused a slump, the Adoption Leadership Board has said

mother daughter child
Photo: Christin Lola/Fotolia

The Adoption Leadership Board (ALB) has raised concern over flagging adopter recruitment while highlighting the number of decisions for adoption and placement orders have “stabilised” since Re B and Re B-S.

The ALB said there had been “no continued decline” in using adoption for children since the initial drop after the Re B and Re B-S judgments in 2013 challenged how the permanency option was being used.

Record high numbers of adoption decisions and placement orders were made in 2012-13, 6,430 and 5,860 respectively. These dropped to 4,570 and 3,850 respectively in 2014-15, following the Re B and Re B-S judgments which questioned local authority practice around adoption and said the order must remain “a last resort”.

But the leadership board said the figures since 2014-15 had remained stable.

Declining adopter recruitment

In its latest report, seen first by Community Care, the board said: “At the level at which the system has now stabilised, around 4,000 placement orders are being granted each year. This suggests that the use of adoption still remains comparatively higher than it has been in the last two decades.”

But the Board used the figures to raise concern over a fall in adopters recruitment, warning that children faced increased waiting times and a reduction in the choice of placements.

It said the number of adopter approvals was dropping each quarter and had fallen to around 700 approved each quarter, compared to more than 1,000 in 2014-15.

“The latest feedback from agencies is that the situation continues to get worse with even fewer adopter approvals in recent months. This compares to the now relatively stable figure of approximately 1,000 placement orders granted each quarter, or approximately 4,000 a year.”

It said: “This reinforces the importance of increasing adopter recruitment and support, especially for harder to place children.”

Read ALB chair Andrew Christie’s commentary on what the figures mean.

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