LGA comments ahead of Government's announcement on adoption

Published on Thursday, 23 February 2012 10:43
Posted by Scott Buckler

Commenting ahead of Education Secretary Michael Gove's announcement on adoption, Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Children and Young People Board, said

"Local authorities take their responsibilities towards children in their care extremely seriously and this includes seeking permanent and stable loving homes for these children wherever possible.

"We acknowledge that there is a variation in performance across councils and recognise that at times the system has been risk averse, but we want to work with government to change that and remove barriers that delay decisions, including tackling the significant delays in the family courts.

"Ensuring a child is in the best possible long-term home cannot be tackled through a one-size fits-all approach. Adoption is right for some children, but for others long term stability might best be found with friends and family through special guardianship.

"Councils are committed to continually improving services for our most vulnerable children and four in five local authority adoption services have recently been rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. The LGA and its partners are also currently developing an £8 million programme that will encourage children's services professionals to share information on what works. Helping councils to improve adoption processes will be a key part of this.

"It's vital that the result for each child is at the heart of any decision making process. Councils will continue to press for greater freedom for social work professionals to be able to use their judgment and manage the important balance between reducing delay and allowing for quality decision making on what is in the best interests of a particular child."

Case Studies

Harrow Council's partnership work with a charity has led to an average waiting time from recommendation for adoption to placement of just four months. The result is that no child in Harrow is currently in care waiting to be adopted.

East Riding Council's adoption team has been rated outstanding by Ofsted. They offer bespoke support to families and children and offer innovative post adoption support to a smooth adoption process, as recently recommended by the Narey report. In the last 12 months they have seen no adoptions break down.

South Tyneside Council uses concurrent planning, where adopters agree to become foster carers for the duration of the assessment. This means children can be looked after by their permanent carers virtually from birth, enabling them to develop attachments earlier.

Stockton Borough Council launched a new recruitment campaign for adoption and fostering in April 2011 that has resulted in a 320 per cent increase in fostering enquiries and a 21 per cent increase in adoption enquiries compared to the previous year. Their adoption service has been rated outstanding by Ofsted.


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