Adoption system needs more stable homes, not more bureaucracy

Published on Friday, 09 March 2012 14:17
Posted by Scott Buckler

The adoption system needs more loving parents with stable homes, not more bureaucracy", councils leaders have stressed today, ahead of the Government's launch of its new Adoption Action Plan

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, is today calling for the Department for Education to scrap reams of unnecessary paperwork that social workers have to wade through at the beginning of any adoption process.  The LGA also want assurances that no further bureaucracy is added to an already lengthy system.

Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the LGA's Children and Young People Board, said:

"Councils are pleased that the Government wants to help improve the adoption process. They take their responsibilities towards children in their care extremely seriously and want to work with government to improve the varying performance levels across the country.  We hope that the new adoption action plan will finally remove the barriers that obstruct decisions including significant delays in the family courts.

"There is no simple one-size-fits-all approach to adoption.  Social workers must be able to make the best decision for the individual child and should not be deterred from considering all options, including special guardianship arrangements. They will consider a child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural backgrounds when trying to find their ideal home too. However, these factors should not delay placing a child with a loving family if they are otherwise suitable.

"The Education Secretary rightly pointed out in his recent adoption speech that too much time is being taken up working through his department's adoption assessment guidance. Obviously councils need to work within guidelines but children should not be made to wait on the adoption register whilst those trying to secure them a stable and loving home jump through hoops of needless paperwork.

"Nor do councils want to see more target setting in any new action plan. It will not help solve the problem that this country faces at the moment.  Social workers are currently working with a system that has five times more children waiting for adoption than we have adopters.  We need to find new and innovative ways of drawing prospective parents into the system and not put them off by imposing ever more bureaucracy.

"Everyone knows that it is much easier to find loving parents for a newborn child, we need willing people to come forward to help councils find stable homes for siblings, older children and those with health issues or disabilities.

"The Government has rightly recognised that bureaucratic target settings and top-down micro-management of councils does not deliver improvement and is already funding the LGA and its partners to develop an £8million programme to encourage children's services professionals to share information on what works best. Helping councils to improve adoption processes will be a key part."

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