The number of children being adopted has fallen, according to official statistics.
The Adoption Leadership Board reports that there were 4,690 children adopted in 2015-16, which was a decrease of 12% from 2014-15.
There were 1,060 children adopted in the first quarter of 2016-17, which compares with 1,210 children being adopted in the same period of 2015/16, a year-on-year drop of 12.4 per cent.
The ALB reported that there were 2,000 children waiting to be adopted at 30 June 2016 – a 10% decrease from 31 March 2016 when there were 2,210 children waiting with a placement order not yet placed with an adoptive family.
The figures showed that 28% of the children waiting at 30 June 2016 had been waiting 18 months or more, a small decrease from 29% as at the previous quarter in 31 March 2016.
The time taken between a child entering care and being placed with a family for children who have been adopted has decreased by 4 months since 2012-13, from 22 months to 18 months in 2015-16, The latest quarterly data suggests there has been an improvement to 17 months during the first quarter of 2016-17.
Adopter timeliness has been declining, according to the latest quarterly statistics. In quarter 2 of 2013-14, 50% of approvals made by local authorities were made within six months of registration, while in quarter 1 of 2016-17, this had decreased to 31% of approvals. The timeliness of matches has also declined. In quarter 4 of 2013-14, 80% of matches were made within 6 months of approval, compared to 45% in quarter 1 of 2016-17.
Quarterly data from the ALB suggests that the number of new decisions has continued to fall from 1,850 in quarter 2 in 2013-14 to 1, 080 in quarter 1 of 2016-17, a decrease of 42%. The number of new placement orders have also continued to fall from 1,630 in quarter 2 of 2013-14 to 890 in quarter 1 of 2016-17, a decrease of 45%.
The number of registrations to become an adopter have decreased by 13% from 840 in quarter 4 of 2015-16 to 730 in quarter 1 of 2016-17. The number of adopter families approved for adoption has increased slightly by 1% from 700 in quarter 4 of 2015-16 to 710 in quarter 1 of 2016-17.
The ALB estimates that the “adopter gap” has closed, and there are now more adoptive families than children waiting.