National Adoption Standards

    The National Adoption Register and final National Adoption
    Standards for England were launched last week, promising what
    health minister Jacqui Smith described as a transformation of the
    adoption process.

    The Adoption Register, which will be run by voluntary adoption
    agency Norwood Ravenswood, will link suitable adoptive families
    with children waiting to be adopted across England and Wales, and
    is a key part of the government’s reform of the adoption
    process.

    Under the standards, produced in conjunction with British
    Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, councils and agencies will
    have a duty to produce a “plan for permanence” at the four-month
    statutory review of looked-after children. Clear timescales for
    achieving the plan will be set and, where adoption has been
    identified, the adoption panel will make its recommendation within
    two months.

    A new public service agreement target focusing on timescales
    will be announced later this year.

    The government wants to increase the rate of adoptions by 40 per
    cent but also wants children’s views to be heard and responded to,
    as well as ensuring consistent post-adoption support. Smith
    announced plans for “two waves” of pilot councils and agencies to
    help develop the register’s operation.

    The launch also saw the publication for consultation of draft
    practice guidance for the implementation of the standards, plus
    draft national adoption standards for adopted adults and their
    birth siblings, which had been absent from the original
    consultation.

    BAAF chief executive Felicity Collier welcomed the register, but
    regretted “an absence of significant new funding”. The government
    announced funding last year of £66.5 million over three years
    – but mainly through the Quality Protects grant.

    Adoption standards and register launched

    – The needs and wishes, welfare and safety of the looked-after
    child are at the centre of the adoption process.

    – Prospective adopters will be welcomed, and treated, without
    prejudice, responded to promptly and given clear information.

    – Children will be matched with approved adopters who can offer
    them a stable and permanent home and receive post-adoptive help and
    support.

    – Birth parents and birth families will be treated fairly,
    openly and with respect throughout the adoption process.

    – Councils will provide a comprehensive adoption service,
    planned corporately and in collaboration with other agencies.

    – Each council and adoption agency will provide a high quality
    adoption service.

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