As someone with two adopted brothers, I know how important it is to get the adoption system right. Since coming to office, the Government has sought to ensure more children are given the love and support of an adoptive family more quickly.
We’ve simplified the adoption process for those looking to adopt and made it easier for them to access clearer, more comprehensive information. We are giving adopters a more active role in identifying children for whom they might be a good match.
We’re making extra funding available to attract more adopters, with £150 million going to local authorities and £16 million to support voluntary adoption agencies.
For too long, the perfect has been the enemy of the good, leading to unacceptable delays. In future, local authorities will be obliged to speed up the adoption process, and will no longer have to give ‘due consideration’ specifically to ethnicity.
The Children and Families Bill, which is about to go through the House of Lords, encourages ‘fostering for adoption’ placements – meaning children can be quickly placed with foster parents who may later become their adoptive parents. The Bill also gives adoptive parents the same pay and leave rights as birth parents, and imposes a six-month limit on care proceedings in the family justice system.
I’m very pleased that we are now beginning to see an increase in the number of children adopted. Figures released this morning show that the number of adoptions rose by 15 per cent last year, with 510 more children adopted in the year to March 2013. The number of children being adopted is now at its highest since comparable records began in 1992.
Although an extra 510 children being adopted might seem a small number in the scheme of things, for these vulnerable children it has the potential to transform their lives for the better.