The checks and criteria used to assess prospective adopters could
be overhauled under new proposals announced by the government.
The review of adopter assessment and adoption panels aims to create
more consistency and transparency in the way adoption agencies
Announcing the consultation, health minister Jacqui Smith said she
wanted to make the assessments easier to encourage more people to
come forward as prospective adopters.
Proposals include developing a list of issues for adopters to be
assessed on, clarifying the range of checks that social workers
should undertake on applicants and under what circumstances
additional checks might be needed, and improving information and
training for agencies and prospective adopters.
Rules covering adoption panels could also become more flexible,
enabling them to meet more regularly, allow substitutes to attend
panels in place of absent members, and scrap the cap on the length
of time people can sit on panels.
Under the Adoption and Children Bill currently being debated in the
House of Lords, an independent panel will also be set up to hear
appeals from people turned down as prospective adopters.
Meanwhile, Baaf Adoption and Fostering has written to peers urging
them to back an amendment to the Adoption and Children Bill to
include measures to protect privately fostered children, including
a registration system to approve private foster parents.
The bill has no provision for children privately fostered because
the government has said it would prefer to wait for the findings of
the Victoria Climbi’ Inquiry.
While private foster parents are supposed to inform local
authorities of their intention to foster a child, it is estimated
that up to 50 per cent of placements are made without councils’
– Consultation until 17 January 2003. Go to www.doh.gov.uk/adoption