Council leaders and children's services professionals united in condemning adoption scorecards

Published on Friday, 11 May 2012 10:33
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Children's Services and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives have today jointly condemned adoption scorecards issued by the Department for Education

Speaking unanimously for the sector, all three bodies said:
"Councils are passionate about helping children and take their responsibilities towards those in their care extremely seriously. The adoption scorecards have the potential to cause unnecessary and avoidable concern in communities where there shouldn't be any, and may put prospective adopters off. Children waiting for adoption will not benefit from government struggling to get its act together.

"The data fails to provide a sound basis for comparison across local authority areas. For example, one council's Ofsted-rated outstanding adoption service looks like a poor performer in the score card – this is simply not credible. We have engaged constructively with DfE and are therefore even more disappointed that our shared improvement agenda is undermined by a misleading use of data.

Councils acknowledge that there is variation in performance across the country and want to work with the Government to help support improvement. Two thirds of councils are hitting their targets if the family court process - a matter out of councils' control - is taken out of the equation. Ofsted recently confirmed that the average length of the court process is 14 months and in some cases it can take up to 20 months.  In addition, all councils have been rigorously inspected by Ofsted over recent years and only three are currently under notice to improve for their services to looked after children. Last year no adoption services were judged to be inadequate.

The Government can also be reassured by Ofsted that whilst councils will always seek to find a placement which best fits a child's racial, religious and cultural backgrounds, these factors are not a barrier to placing a child with a family. 
"Councils simply cannot risk shifting their focus from the quality of placements to the speed of placements. "

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