Friday, 9 March 2012

A response to David Cameron's adoption proposals

As the Prime Minister David Cameron announces new adoption proposals, BAAF's Chief Executive David Holmes weighs in with his thoughts on the announcements - including thoughts on faster family finding and plans for the Adoption Register.

Reducing Delay - Maximising Opportunities for Children
BAAF welcomes the Government's new proposals to minimise delay in the placement of children for adoption. This is a shared objective for all professionals working in adoption. Childhood is precious and all too short. We owe it to children needing adoption to make the best decisions about their future that we can within their timescales.

There are a range of important factors that need to be taken into account in identifying a suitable match between the needs of the child and what adopters have to offer. It is to be welcomed that no one factor should be allowed to act as a barrier in identifying a suitable match. It is also essential that in placing a child, their needs in the longer term are properly understood including their connection to and sense of belonging to their adoptive family and community.

Faster family finding
Initiatives that maximise the opportunity for children who have an agreed plan for adoption to be cared for by their potential adoptive parents are to be welcomed and supported. The consequences for young children in moving between carers while the case is resolved in the courts have long been recognised as being serious. Wherever possible, the risks and uncertainties during this period must be carried by the adults and not the child. This has been achieved in specialist projects such as concurrent planning and the principles that apply in these projects should be extended to a larger group of children where adoption is the identified local authority plan.

Referral of Children to the Adoption Register
BAAF welcomes the plan to legislate to require early referrals of children to the Adoption Register. This builds helpfully on existing guidance. It is essential that approved prospective adopters are also referred early in exactly the same way. Every opportunity needs to be taken to maximize the chances of a child being matched with prospective adopters from the national pool. At the same time we must also focus on increasing the supply of prospective adopters and particularly the number of adopters who want to adopt the children who we know wait longer such as those in sibling groups or with complex needs. At present there are over 2000 children on the register and fewer than 400 adopters. This proposal will help adoption agencies to maintain a national overview of the mismatch between children who have a plan for adoption and approved prospective adopters to enable targeted recruitment campaigns.

We look forward to working with the Government on behalf of our membership as it develops and consults on the proposed new legislation in all these areas.

David Holmes
Chief Executive

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