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Government proposes adoption law change

A proposed change in the current adoption law will shift focus towards longer placements, the government has announced.

Under the proposed change, courts and social workers will have to make a child’s “long-term stability and happiness” their first priority in care cases. The new law will make it “crystal clear” that children should be placed “with the person best able to care for them right up until their 18th birthday” rather than someone who can only meet their immediate needs.

Officials from the Department for Education had previously expressed concern that “life-long stability and high quality care that adoptive families can bring is not always given sufficient weight” by local authorities and courts.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said that any delay in finding a new adoptive home for a child in care “simply isn’t good enough” and hoped the law change would make sure “children are placed with their new family as quickly as possible”. The government has a responsibility to “transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve”, she insisted.

This proposed change comes in response to a fall in the adoption rate since a 2013 court decision from President of the Family Division Sir James Munby. In Re B-S, Sir James said that too many councils failed to consider alternatives to adoption. He advised that because adoption legally severs the relationship between a child and his or her biological family, it should be treated as a last resort.

In November, Prime Minister David Cameron called for the number of local authorities which place children in adoptive homes quickly to double.

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  1. Kate Wells says:

    WHAT is the government talking about. Adoption has always meant for the duration of the child’s life. They then talk about children remaining with the adopter(s) until they are 18, and this is not the case as adopted children are no different from birth children and adopters should be a family of resource to the child for as long as necessary.
    There seems to be a confusion between short term foster care, permanent foster care and adoption. Short term carers offer care to children in an emergency and on a temporary basis. Permanent foster care are expected to keep a child until he/she is 18, and beyond if necessary.
    Why are the government so mixed up. It’s not complex.
    As for Nicky Morgan’s comments “any delay in finding a new adoptive family for a child in care simply isn’t good enough” – what a ridiculous comment. There is (and has been for many years) a national shortage of adopters (and foster carers) so how does she propose social workers address this issue. They organise recruitment campaigns, training courses and assessments. It’s a highly skilled job to assess adopters and some are found to be unsuitable, and others select themselves out for a variety of reasons. There are never enough people coming forward to adopt older children, sibling groups and children with disabilities. Most adopters want children under 5 and once the child reaches 5 their chances of adoption diminish by the day.
    What does Vicky Morgan suggest social workers do – maybe parliament could make a law that specific people put themselves forwards as adoptive parents – those on benefits perhaps.
    I just wish the government would stop meddling in things they don’t understand.

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