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Government to change legislation to prioritise adoption

Adoption should always be pursued where it is in the child’s best interests, the government has announced.

After the number of decisions for adoption made by courts and councils has fallen by around 50 per cent, the government is introducing urgent changes to legislation to try and increase the number of children being adopted.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Every single day a child spends waiting in care is a further delay to a life full of love and stability - and this simply isn’t good enough. We have a responsibility to transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve.

“That’s why we are changing the law on adoption to make sure decisions rightly prioritise children’s long-term stability and happiness, so that children are placed with their new family as quickly as possible, helping them fulfil their potential and get the very best start in life,” she added.

Government guidance has been issued to make clear that where adoption is in the best interests of the child, they must be placed with their new family as soon as possible.

It will also seek to change legislation as soon as possible to make it explicit that councils and courts must place children with the person who is best able to care for them right up until their 18th birthday - rather than with carers who can’t provide the support they need over the long term.

The law will explicitly state that councils and courts must prioritise the quality of reparative care the child will need in order to recover from episodes of devastating abuse and neglect, and whether the placement will last through the child’s adolescence.

The government is also providing £200million funding to:

  • speed up the adoptions of harder-to-place children
  • support new regional adoption agencies to improve the recruitment of adopters - and the matching with children
  • strengthen voluntary adoption agencies
  • ensure social workers have the right knowledge and skills to make robust decisions about the best placements for children

The government’s Adoption Support Fund will be extended for the next four years to ensure adoptive families can access funding for crucial therapy services from day one of caring for their child, rather than waiting months for the adoption order to be finalised.

Measures to strengthen Special Guardianship Orders were recently announced by the prime minister David Cameron.

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