The House of Lords Committee on Adoption Legislation has called on the government to extend the scope of its ‘fostering for adoption’ plans.
This scheme, which is likely to be included into a new Children and Families Bill due next year, will encourage local authorities to place looked after children with foster carers who have already been approved and who can then go on to adopt the child.
According to the Committee, this scheme would provide “continuity and stability” but they also believe that it does not go far enough and say authorities should have a duty to consider ‘fostering for adoption’ placements for all children waiting for an adoption placement.
Committee chair Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss said:
“Whilst the Committee supports the Government’s aim to place children as soon as possible in their permanent homes, we are concerned that the clauses as currently drafted do not sufficiently meet this objective. The Committee thinks that the new clauses on ‘Fostering for Adoption’ present a missed opportunity.If local authorities had a statutory duty to consider a fostering for adoption placement for all children for whom adoption is the plan, it would allow many more children to be placed in their permanent homes much sooner. This is vital since there is a wealth of evidence that delay in finding a permanent home and movements between short-term foster placements can significantly damage a child’s wellbeing.”
The Committee also criticised the government’s plans to remove the need to consider a child’s ethnic background when placing a child for adoption, saying this should be considered alongside other needs and characteristics.
Baroness Butler-Sloss explained:
“…the Committee agrees with the aim of avoiding any unnecessary delay in placing children with adopters, we do not agree with the Government’s proposal to remove the requirement to consider ethnicity when matching children with families. We have not been convinced that this process causes significant delay and we are concerned that to remove the requirement entirely might send a message to those working in the field that these issues do not matter, when clearly they are all components of a child’s identity. We believe that race, religion, culture and language should continue to be taken into account when placing children in new homes.”