In a detailed report examining the bill, the MPs expressed concern about a new duty that would be placed on local authorities – to consider ‘fostering for adoption’ at an early stage in the care process for children taken from their parents.
‘Fostering for adoption’ would allow prospective adopters to foster children in advance of formal adoption.
According to the MPs, moving this consideration too far forward in the care process could lead to adoption being prioritised over all other options for the children, including ‘kinship care’ with extended family members. This would breach the right of both the child and their family to respect for family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The government insists that the bill was not intended to discriminate against kinships carers. But the Committee remains concerned:
“We welcome the Minister’s reassurance that it is not the Government’s intention that kinship carers should be overlooked as a consequence of the clause in the Bill concerning fostering for adoption. However, we share the concerns expressed by the Children’s Commissioner and others that, whether or not this is the intention, it may be the effect of the clause as the Bill is currently drafted.”
The report also criticises the proposed repeal of a measure requiring local authorities to consider the religious, cultural and linguistic background of children when planning the adoption of children in care. The government had not provided evidence for its claim that the requirement causes delay, they say, and its removal would be incompatible with the the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.