The latest adoption rates show a continuing fall in the number of vulnerable children finding new homes.
Figures released by the Adoption Leadership Board show a steady drop in adoption last year. Between January and March, 1,160 children found new families. Between April and June this fell to 1,070, and then to 1,060 between July and September.
A similar effect can be observed with placement orders, when children are officially made available for adoption. Between April and June last year, 1,020 were granted. The total then dropped to just 830 between July and September. In the same quarter three years previously, the figure stood at no less than 1,630.
The downward slide has been attributed to the continuing after-effects of Re B-S, an influential 2013 ruling in which Sir James Munby stressed the need for councils to show that they had fully considered all alternatives to adoption before applying for placement orders.
But Andy Elvin, the chief executive of charity the Adolescent and Children’s Trust expressed doubts, pointing instead to the increasing use of special guardianship orders (SGOs) by councils:
“I don’t think that Re B-S is still playing out. These figures reflect the continued rise of SGOs [granted to] family members and, in reality, SGOs and adoption figures should be taken together alongside long-term fostering to show how well we are achieving permanency for vulnerable children.”