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Children & Child Custody

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Adoption delays revealed

The Government has recently published the first local authority adoption scorecards, which have revealed widespread delays throughout the adoption system in England.

The publication comes after just 3050 children in care, including just 60 babies, found new homes through adoption last year, the lowest since 2001.

According to the data, hundreds of children are having to wait an average of 20 months from entering care to moving in with their adoptive parents – six months slower than the timetable set out in national guidance.

The figures also reveal wide variations across the country and between neighbouring areas.The Government is now opening discussions with the areas of highest concern, probing the specific issues each one faces and assessing the plans in place to improve performance to ensure they will work.

If ministers are not satisfied they will issue formal improvement notices – setting out specific targets, measures and timetables to speed up the adoption process.

The Government Adoption Advisor, Martin Narey, said: “Over the last few months, and in visits to more than twenty local authorities, I have been encouraged by the way the seriousness of adoption delays has been taken on board and the determination of struggling and well performing authorities to improve.

“We now have a growing and serious backlog of children cleared for adoption by the courts but for whom there are too few potential adopters. These scorecards demonstrate the reality that if delays in almost every aspect of the adoption process are not tackled urgently, the list of those in need of the loving home every child deserves will continue to grow.”

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