The Adoption System is in for an overhaul.

8512749863_b83f012083_mHow is it March already? The year appears to be flying by, it feels like only yesterday that I was signing off for the Christmas holidays and yet it is now nearly Easter. Before you know it spring will be over, summer will be in full swing and we might even get a bit of sun. Anyway, enough about the seasons, I doubt you tuned in to this blog to be read about the time of year or the weather. If you did may I redirect you to the Met Office’s home page they seem to be somewhat aware of the current weather in the UK. If you, however, stumbled across the blog in search of current legal affairs and family law updates you’re in the right place.

Today I thought I would take a look at the new draft guidance published by the Department of Education aimed at helping social workers and other professionals working within public child care understand and navigate their way through the new adoption system. A link to the open consultation paper, ‘Improving the adoption system and service for looked-after children’ can be found at the end of this article. The consultation is open until the 11th of April 2014. The proposed changes to the adoption system and statuary guidance result from part 1 of the Children and Families Bill, a link to which can also be found at the end of this article. The Bill is still making its way through the governmental process, stages of which, in summary, include:

1. House of Commons:

  • First reading
  • Second Reading
  • Committee Stage
  • Report Stage
  • Third Reading

2. House of Lords:

  • First reading
  • Second Reading
  • Committee Stage
  • Report Stage
  • Third Reading.

3. consideration of amendments.
4. Royal Assent

The draft guidance, ‘Improving the adoption system and services for looked-after children’ was published on the 28th of February 2014 and runs alongside a number draft regulation changes. The premise for the legislative changes and guidance being that the government wishes to see more children adopted without the average two year delay between entering care and moving in with an adoptive family. The changes within the area promote schemes such as fostering with the intention of adopting and are intended to improve the support offered to adoptive families.

Further to this the changes include removing the risk that ethnicity is prioritised over other factors within adoptive consideration; ensuring that information regarding entitlement to adoptive support and other governmental schemes is given to prospective adopters; the removal of restrictions which previously prevented prospective adopters from playing crucial and active roles within the adoptive process. These reforms follow those implemented last year which include a two stage process improving the speed of approval of prospective adoptive parents to, on average, six months after application; a legal duty on adoption agencies to refer adopters to the adoption register within three months of approval; and a duty to ensure all information on children awaiting adoption is constantly updated and children are referred to the register within three months of the decision to allow adoption being made. Furthermore every local authority will now be required to have a Virtual School Head, whose role is to improve and encourage the education of children under the local authorities care.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson stated that the ‘reforms to the adoption register, greater use of fostering for adoption and the removal of often unnecessary delay, will mean would-be adopters can play a much greater role in the process and will ensure children who need them are given stable, loving homes with their new families much more quickly. The revised adoption guidance will also make it much easier for social workers to follow the new processes when considering adoption for vulnerable children. It means they can make the best possible decisions in the interests of the 6,000 children waiting for a loving home.’

Links:

Improving the Adoption System and Services for Looked-after Children, Government Consultation, https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/adoption-getting-it-right-making-it-work

Children and Families Bill: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2012-13/childrenandfamilies.html

Timpson Unveils Further Reforms to Speed up Adoption, Children and Young People Now, http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1142445/timpson-unveils-reforms-speed-adoption

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *