Judges and ministers are engaged in a “blame game” over adoption, former Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has declared.
Judges blame the government for legal aid cuts and for exerting pressure to speed up adoption, he said, and children in need were losing out as a result.
The sometimes controversial Tory MP told the Telegraph:
“Judges clearly resent being forced to speed up their care cases, which they see as interfering with their professional sovereignty in their courts, I think that is why there has been a bit of a bounce-back.”
But, Loughton continued, judges were justified in expressing concern about poorly research adoption applications.
His comments followed the recent publication of figures showing a sharp fall in the number of adoption orders issued by the courts since last year, in the wake of High Court rulings which criticised social workers for failing to properly consider alternatives to adoption.
Earlier this week, the government’s National Adoption Leadership Board, issued new guidance designed to address concerns amongst social workers that their adoption applications might face legal challenge.
“Judges have also been painted by directors of children’s services as the blocking mechanism in the past and are going to be resentful of that. But there is no doubt that there is resentment towards government too.”
The MP for East Worthing and Shoreham admitted that the possibility of care by extended family members – so called ‘kinship care’ – needed to be fully considered, but equally the welfare of children genuinely in need must not be hindered by “delay and obfuscation between professionals.”