The government has estimated that its adoption measures set out in the Children and Social Work Bill could save millions of pounds.
Placing more children in care up for adoption could make potential savings of £310m to local authorities over 10 years, the Department for Education has claimed.
In an impact assessment of the Social Work Bill, the DfE says that while there will be variation by local authority in the actual cost of extending the virtual school head role and in realising savings from regionalisation, but that local authorities with more adopted children are most likely to require additional resource for the new duty, but also to benefit from quicker adoption. “In any case, the order of expected savings is substantially larger than of expected costs,” it adds.
The assessment states: “The Bill will also ensure children’s long term needs are foremost in decisions regarding where looked after children should be placed when they enter the care system eg adoption, foster care/residential care, or with a special guardian.
“This stems from concern in a recent review of Special Guardianship Orders that some children are being placed in placements which are not in their best interests,” it adds.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, has warned that it will always be a small minority of children in the care system for whom adoption is the most appropriate route to permanence.
“The vast majority of children in care will live with foster families, some of whom will spend their whole childhood with one foster family. The Prime Minister is right to want to give children who may be adopted every chance of a positive future, yet his approach only focuses on a minority of children in care – and that does all children a disservice,” he added.
The Children and Social Work Bill pledges to introduce a clause to extend existing duties on local authorities to provide a personal adviser to care leavers in education up to the age of 25, so that every care leaver in that age group has similar support should they want it.
The impact statement outlined that support for care leavers would require £4 million in 2017-18 and £8 million in each subsequent year for the rest of the Spending Review Period. DfE will meet the costs of implementation from its SR settlement, making the funds available through an existing un-ringfenced grant that meets the costs of the Staying Put policy.
The Children and Social Work Bill also introduces a set of clauses giving powers to the Secretary of State to use secondary legislation to change the current regulatory regime for social work professionals.