Charities slam dearth of adoption support

Adoption charities have hit out at the government for failing to fund and resource adoption support, which they claim is "conspicuous by its absence" from the political agenda.

Adoption charities have hit out at the government for failing to fund and resource adoption support, which they claim is “conspicuous by its absence” from the political agenda.

Eight leading charities said in a joint statement today that the system for adoption support focuses on “assessment rather than delivery, struggles to develop cross-boundary partnerships between social care, health and educational services and is severely under-funded”.

The charities include Barnardo’s, Adoption UK and the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

They welcomed the coalition’s focus on adoption, but added: “Adoption support is conspicuous by its absence from the government’s current agenda and funding.”

The charities have called on the government to invest £5,000 in support and training for each new adoptive family after new research found it would yield a social return worth more than £1m. This was calculated on the basis of savings to the state from taking a child out of the care system.

Last night a BBC documentary highlighted the plight of older children waiting to be placed. A Home for Maisie followed adopter parents Jim and Sue for a year as they tried to adopt eight-year-old Maisie who had two placement breakdowns behind her.

The charities said the documentary emphasised the need for child protection teams to intervene “far earlier and with much more focus and decisiveness where children are in abusive and neglectful family situations, and for courts to reduce decision-making delays”.

Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of Adoption UK, said the documentary reflected the reality for many families of parenting traumatised children adopted from the care system.

“We need to do more to improve how we support those families and increase further the number of successful adoptions,” he said.

Chris Smith, interim director of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA), said adopters needed thorough preparation and lifelong support. “However, such skilled and long-term support is costly and CVAA welcomes A Home for Maisie as a means of highlighting the need for and the indisputably positive impact of adoption support.”

Updated adoption guidance launched by the government in February focused on ensuring adoptions were not delayed while practioners waited for perfect ethnic matches. However, it was criticised by adoption charities for failing to address systemic delays and problematic post-adoption support, which they claimed led to high rates of placement breakdown.

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