Councils given three months to pass adopters’ names to national register

Social services must pass on adopters’ details to the National
Adoption Register within three months rather than six in a move to
improve the register’s performance.

The three-month timescale was a compromise between the Department
for Education and Skills and local authorities.

Councils incur high costs in recruiting couples. They believed it
would be money wasted if the names were passed on to the register
immediately after the prospective adopters were approved, as DfES

A DfES spokesperson said it was hoped the change would address
“unnecessary delays in the matching process”.

Wrangling over the future of the register delayed a decision to
re-tender the contract, leading to a three-month extension for the
provider, Norwood.

The agency faced criticism for matching only 75 hard-to-place
children with adopters in the register’s first two years of
operation, despite an investment of £1.25m.

A source told Community Care that local authorities had
opposed giving adopters’ details to the register too quickly.
“Adoption consortia have been very effective, and there’s a worry
that it might discourage that,” he said. “You should not discourage
something that’s working to prop up something that is not.”

Families are “traded” between consortia members free or at a
reduced fee – as little as £3,000, compared with a typical
£20,000 interagency fee.

Norwood’s contract expired in August, but was extended to 30
November due to delays in getting a new tender in place. Funding
for the register has now been confirmed until March 2006.

The DfES spokesperson said the extension would allow the government
to reassess the specification. “This process took longer than
envisaged so we extended the current contract for a minimum

Felicity Collier, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering,
which is bidding for the contract, said there was a place for a
national adoption register.

“Of the 250 children we placed last year, many were to people who
had come forward who were newly approved as adopters,” she said.
“It shows you need a range of ways to reach potential adopters.”

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