Talk of changes to improve register after just 75 matches in two years

Changes are needed to improve the failing adoption register, the
Department for Education and Skills has confirmed.

The admission comes as it was revealed that the register, which is
run for the government by adoption agency Norwood, had matched just
75 children with adopted families since it began operating fully
two years ago.

With funding of more than £1.25m during that time, each match
has cost £16,000, prompting questions about its long-term

However, a DfES spokesperson said there were no plans to scrap the
service and the department was “clear the register is right”.
However, the DfES admitted a recent review had shown improvements
were needed but would not comment on what the changes might

Meanwhile, a leading agency has dismissed fears that new adoption
regulations could lead to councils matching hard-to-place children
with adoptive parents overseas.

Deborah Cullen, legal officer at Baaf Adoption and Fostering, said
it was unlikely that the regulations, which propose placing
children who have been on the adoption register for 12 months with
adoptive parents abroad, would lead to a dramatic rise in such

Academics fear that the regulations – the consultation period for
which ends this month – could encourage councils to place children
abroad instead of in long-term foster care placements in the UK to
meet government adoption targets.

Anna Gupta, a lecturer in social work and child care at London
University’s Royal Holloway College, said: “Local authorities
obsessed with meeting targets linked to performance indicators may
go for this even when foster care may be better.

“Hard-to-place children may be matched with parents abroad, which
may mean no contact with their family and there may not be the
therapeutic services they need.”

However, Cullen said it was unlikely that people from overseas
would be “any more likely to want to adopt a hard-to-place child
than someone from this country”.

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