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Adoption funding boost to improve matching

The government is investing £160 million over three years to support adoption of children in care.

The government’s National Adoption Strategy was published last summer and figures released show that there has been a 23 per cent increase in the number of families approved to adopt, from 1,930 in September 2020 to 2,370 at September 2021.

The aim of the new funding is to remove remaining barriers and reduce the delays for thousands more children still waiting in care, so they can be matched more quickly with the right family.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “The importance of a loving, stable family cannot be overstated, no matter what shape it takes. Family are crucial in giving children the warmth, background and opportunities they need to succeed in life.

“We launched our National Adoption Strategy last summer, and I’m really encouraged to see it is already having a meaningful impact on the adoption system across the country, as waiting times for children in care reduce and they find the loving homes they need.

“Whether it’s through investing in adoption and our expanded Family Hub network, or looking into the findings from the upcoming Care Review, it is my mission to make sure that family stays at the heart of our policy,” he added.

The investment includes £144 million for the Government’s Adoption Support Fund to strengthen support for new and growing adoptive families, which has already helped nearly 40,000 adoptive families since 2015.

Adoptive families will also receive additional support including cognitive therapy, family support sessions and activities to help children recover from earlier traumas like abuse or neglect.

National Adoption Strategy is improving adoption services in England by putting in place better recruitment across the country and removing any unnecessary delays, through more training for front line staff, improving approval process and funding for targeted recruitment campaigns.

However, figures published in November showed that the number of looked after children who were adopted in 2021 fell by 18%. The report attributed the large decrease in children being adopted to the impact on court proceedings during the pandemic, where cases progressed more slowly or were paused.

Adoptions rose sharply from 2011 to a peak in 2015 but have since been falling. This decrease follows two court rulings in 2013, which stated that adoption orders should be made only when there was no other alternative, such as placing a child with birth relatives.

The new funding includes £19.5 million to strengthen the work of Regional Adoption Agencies, to improve national matching between parents and children, and focus on recruitment of prospective adopters from all communities.

The Department for Education launched its recruitment campaign to find more adoptive parents in 2019, which includes a focus on prospective parents from Black and Minority Ethnic communities. New data published today shows an increase in the number of approved adopters waiting to be matched to children in care since this campaign started, with over 100 more adopters from Minority Ethnic backgrounds were approved at the end of September 2021: 590 compared to 450 at the end of March 2020 – an increase of more than 30%.

Dr Carol Homden CBE, Chief Executive of Coram, said: “It is vitally important to children in need of adoption than they find the loving home they need as early as possible and that, no matter where they live, they have an equal chance of accessing high quality support in a timely way to enable them to thrive. This strategic commitment and resourcing gives a welcome boost to this shared aim across the sector and the results will be seen in the lives of children for years to come.”

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