Minister wants standards in by 2003

Councils and adoption agencies in England will
have to implement the national adoption standards by April 2003,
health minister Jacqui Smith announced last week, describing the
timetable as “challenging and ambitious”, but “achievable”.

In a speech to a national Department of Health
conference in London last week, Smith said: “For many children in
care, adoption offers the best chance of success in life. We are
committed to modernising the adoption process and to make it faster
and fairer.”

The standards, published in August, are part
of the government’s programme to improve adoption services as set
out in the Adoption and Children Bill currently before

The government wants the number of adoptions
of looked-after children to increase by at least 40 per cent by
2004-5. The standards include agreeing a permanency plan for
looked-after children at the four-month statutory review and making
a decision on prospective adopters within six months of

Smith also announced a consultation on finding
out the number of adoptions of looked-after children that break
down after an adoption order has been made, resulting in the child
re-entering care.

Comments on the proposals are invited by the
end of next March.

– Further information on the consultation on
breakdown rates at

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