Adoption orders have stabilised after dropping in the wake of high profile court decisions in 2013.
The two rulings – In the matter of B and Re B-S – stressed the importance of social workers and the family courts fully considering any and all alternatives to adoption before permanently removing children from their families, an option which could only be a last resort. The judgements caused controversy and led to a sharp drop in applications for adoption orders by social workers.
In the 12 months to 2013, a record number of adoption applications were heard in court – 6430. These resulted in 5,860 placement orders – another record. But just two years later, these numbers had fallen to 4,570 and 3,850 respectively
That slump is now over, according to government organisation the Adoption Leadership Board. A newly published report declares:
“At the level at which the system has now stabilised, around 4,000 placement orders are being granted each year. This suggests that the use of adoption still remains comparatively higher than it has been in the last two decades.”
But it is still very concerned, it said, by the ongoing struggle to recruit sufficient new adopters to meet the needs of the system. The numbers of approved prospective adopters has fallen, it noted, every quarter. Only around 700 are now approved every three months, compared to over 1,000 in the year to 2015.
“The latest feedback from agencies is that the situation continues to get worse with even fewer adopter approvals in recent months. This compares to the now relatively stable figure of approximately 1,000 placement orders granted each quarter, or approximately 4,000 a year.”
The Board continued:
“This reinforces the importance of increasing adopter recruitment and support, especially for harder to place children.”
Photo by kristin klein via Flickr