Government orders ‘rapid review’ of adoption

The government has ordered the Treasury to conduct a "rapid review" of adoption focused on speeding up the process and increasing the number of adoptions from care, Community Care has learned.

The government has ordered the Treasury to conduct a “rapid review” of adoption focused on speeding up the process and increasing the number of adoptions from care, Community Care has learned.

A letter to adopters and prospective adopters, sent on Tuesday 14 November, said the department would conduct a rapid review “of the process people go through to become adoptive parents”. Recipients were asked to share details of their experiences, with a deadline of Monday 28 November.

They were asked a number of prompt questions, including which local authority had placed their child or children, which adoption agency they had worked with or were working with and what they considered to be the strengths and weaknesses of the process.

They were also asked about the quality of the services they had received, including the initial training and assessments, the court process and packages of post-adoption support.

The review will lead to an internal report to prime minister David Cameron, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, chancellor George Osborne and education secretary Michael Gove, the letter stated.

But the move has already caused controversy with some experts criticising the government for failing to announce the review on departmental websites or via a press release.

One children’s services consultant and interim manager told Community Care he was highly concerned about the Treasury leading a review in this area which he felt was profoundly inappropriate. “I’m even more concerned that an issue as complex and multi-faceted should be reviewed ‘rapidly’,” he said.

“With the recent introduction of the adoption ‘league tables’, I can only wonder if the thinking in government is that there should be a tie-in between the local government funding settlement and the number of adoptions achieved. If that is the case, then I would remind the government that Professor Munro, in her recent report on child protection, clearly warned of the dangers of unintended consequences of reform, not least the highly negative repercussions of a timescale and compliance culture in children’s social care services. That is not an experience we would wish to repeat with adoption.”

The review follows a number of government announcements on adoption, designed to boost national adoption rates. Launching their adoption manifesto earlier this year, education secretary Michael Gove and children’s minister Tim Loughton urged social workers not to delay adoptions, claiming some professionals insist on waiting for perfect ethnic matches.

This was followed by the appointment of former Barnardo’s chief Martin Narey to the role of ministerial adviser on adoption and the publication of national league tables naming and shaming local authorities with the poorest adoption rates.

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