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Government issues new adoption advice to councils

January 17, 2020

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Children & Families Minister Michelle Donelan have urged local councils not to shy away from recommending adoption for vulnerable children who are in care.

There has been a drop in the number of assessments recommending adoption, and councils have been asked to review their practices to ensure that vulnerable young people don’t face an unnecessary wait for a stable, loving home.

New adoption advice published yesterday emphasises to councils that age, income, sexual orientation and marital status should not be used as reasons to turn away prospective adopters. Instead, councils should consider the adopters’ ability to provide a stable home and a good environment for children to flourish in.

Gavin Williamson CBE MP said: “Adoption can transform the lives of children waiting in care for a permanent, loving home. I applaud the hard work and commitment of the social workers who dedicate themselves to giving children the kind of home environment that many of us take for granted and urge them not to shy away from putting children forward for adoption.

“As long as adoptive parents can offer love, care and the stable home every child in care deserves, I want them to be considered. This government will continue building on the increased support we are giving new adoptive families by making it clear to every council that if they think it is in the best interest of the child, I will back them 100 per cent in recommending adoption.”

Michelle Donelan MP said: “Since becoming Minister, I have been struck by the incredible work that social care professionals do to protect and support children in care – but too many children are still waiting for a home to give them the stability they desperately need and together we must do more.

“There are a number of misconceptions about who can and cannot adopt that I worry are putting off potential adoptive parents. Neither age, ethnicity nor sexual orientation should be a barrier to adopting; what matters is the love and protection a parent can provide. That is why I have written to councils asking them to make sure they are following the law correctly so that no-one is wrongly excluded.”

The government are also providing additional funding to Regional Adoption Agencies, to run an adopter recruitment campaign throughout 2020. This campaign will focus on finding families for the children who wait longest in care. This includes siblings, older children and children with additional needs and disabilities, but the priority will be finding families for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) children; the government press release states that the “latest data shows that of the 2,700 children waiting for adoption, almost 40 per cent have waited over 18 months – of these, 24 per cent were from BAME backgrounds.”

This government announcement has been warmly welcomed across the adoption sector.  Maggie Jones, Chief Executive of the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (of which SFCS are a member), said: “This is excellent, early evidence of the new government’s manifesto commitment to adoption. We wholly support the Secretary of State in urging adopters to come forward from all communities and are ready to offer them a warm welcome. VAAs are working in close partnership with RAAs and local government to find forever homes for the many children in the care system who deserve the love, care and stability of an adoptive family, and to provide support though the lifetime journey of adoption.”

You can read the full government press release here.

You can read the letter which Michelle Donelan MP has sent to all Directors of Children’s Services here.

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