The government is to oblige courts and councils to always pursue adoption when it is in a child’s best interest.
Ministers say they will change legislation as soon as possible to “make crystal clear that councils and courts must place children with the person 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”.
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.”
The government says it will provide £200m to break down the bureaucratic barriers in the adoption system, which can lead to children waiting in care for months longer than necessary.
The money will:
- see the speeding up of adoptions of harder-to-place children
- support the creation of 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 has also announced plans to change regulations so councils have to carry out more thorough assessments of special guardians to make sure children are in the right home and with the right relatives, rather than distant family members they’ve never met.
The changes follow concerns that life-long stability and high-quality care that adoptive families can bring is not always given sufficient weight by councils and courts when they make decisions about where children should live – sometimes focusing on just who can support the child in the short term.
We shall keep clients informed of developments.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01656 645525. We regularly advise clients on these issues from our offices in Bridgend and Cardiff.