Northern Ireland’s adoption services shake-up follows child protection overhaul

Adoption services in Northern Ireland face their biggest reform for 20 years, said health minister Paul Goggins today.
The changes announced by the health minister for Ulster include:
* Health and social services trusts would have a duty for the first time to provide adoption support, including cash help.

* Special guardianship orders would allow children to be placed with a permanent family while retaining links with their birth parents.

* Civil partners and unmarried couples would be entitled to jointly adopt children.

The reforms follow a radical shake-up of child protection announced last week, which included the establishment of a Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland to replace existing area child protection committees and panels.
Goggins said: “We have patchy, inconsistent, adoption services. I want to see agreed standards in place, which will deliver a first class adoption service.”

The reforms, which will be enacted in primary legislation, are based on consultative proposals published last July.

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