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Adoptions in England and Wales

The Office for National Statistics has released a bulletin giving annual statistics on adoptions which took place following court orders in England and Wales in 2012. Figures on adoption orders apply to adoptions by relatives and step-parents as well as adoptions from care.

The figures show that in 2012, there were 5,206 adoptions in England and Wales, an increase of 9.8% since 2011 when there were 4,740 adoptions.

Looking at England alone, the ONS data shows that there was a 9.6% rise in adoptions, with 4,835 children entered into the Adopted Children Register following court orders made in England.

The ONS suggests that the increased number of adoptions in 2012 could be a consequence of the recent drive to improve the adoptions process in England. This drive includes the Government’s Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay, which was published in March 2012 and outlines how the Government intends to accelerate the whole adoption process in England so that more children benefit from adoption and more rapidly.

In addition, the Department for Education published new Adoption Scorecards for England in May 2012. These are updated annually and show, against three key indicators, how swiftly children in need of adoption are placed for adoption, in each local authority area. The scorecards allow local authorities and other adoption agencies to monitor their own performance and compare it with that of others.

There have been small fluctuations in the number of adoptions since 1998. The largest fall in adoptions in England and Wales since 1998 occurred between 2005 and 2006. Special Guardianships were introduced in December 2005 when the Adoption and Children Act 2002 was fully implemented, and this may have had an impact as Special Guardianship figures are not included in ONS adoption statistics.

Special Guardianship provided a new permanence option for children, giving a legally secure foundation for building a permanent relationship between the child and their special guardian, while preserving the legal link between the child and their birth family. The majority of Special Guardianship Orders are made to former foster carers. In 2006 there were 70 Special Guardianship orders granted rising to 2,130 by 2012.

Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.1.0.

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