Martin Narey: ‘don’t delay adoption because of ethnic matching’

Adoption placements should not be “unduly delayed” by trying to find an exact ethnic match for a child in care, the chief executive of Barnardo’s Martin Narey said today.

Speaking at the charity’s annual conference, Narey lamented the “long delays” that children often experienced while waiting to be placed for adoption.

“We must take urgent action on this… and have targets to drive down delays,” he said.

Narey claimed searches made by local authorities for an exact ethnic match between a child and a prospective adopter could be contributing to lengthy placement delays.

Narey’s views were supported by broadcaster and adoption campaigner David Akinsanya who claimed some local authorities were “over-matching” by spending too long searching for exact ethnic matches for mixed-race children. Akinsanya expressed concern that councils “could be using this as an excuse…when a child’s social worker is in favour of a non-exact placement”.

One delegate, a director of children’s services, said an “overly PC culture in local authorities” could be preventing swift and suitable placement decisions.

“Young people in care have told us that the key issue is not the ethnicity of foster carers and adopters, but the quality of support and understanding which they have about a young person’s culture, or are willing to have,” said Wendy Banks, senior policy adviser at Voice, the advocacy charity for children in care.

“Just because someone is from the same ethnic group does not mean that they will have the same culture. What is important is a foster carer or adopter who takes a highly child-centred approach: finding out what is important to the young person, and then working with them to support their needs,” said Banks.

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