Local authorities in England will only get an outstanding rating for adoption in future if they place children within 12 months, Ofsted says. But guidelines say local authorities in England should place a child with adoptive parents within 12 months of the decision being made to put them up for adoption. “I want to see radical improvements to ensure that all children who would benefit from adoption are placed as quickly as possible to make sure they get the start in life they deserve.”
The heads of council children’s services say they are committed to improving the adoption process – but that adoption is not the only way to find a permanent secure home for a child. “We acknowledge that there is a variation in performance across councils and recognise that at times the system has been risk averse, but we want to work with government to change that and remove barriers that delay decisions, including tackling the significant delays in the family courts.”
The prime minister has called for early adoption to be made a priority, saying that this greatly improves a vulnerable child’s chances in life. As well as looking at delays, inspectors will look at: Whether adoption has been considered as an option for all children in care Evidence that adoption has been considered early and not “as a last resort” Whether siblings are adopted together where possible The vetting process for people who want to adopt Support given to those who adopt John Goldup, Ofsted’s deputy chief inspector, said the new framework “would make it much harder” to get a “good” or an “outstanding” rating.
“Our scrutiny of delays in the adoption process will help focus and bring forward a smooth and quicker adoption process. The earlier children are identified for adoption and placed with a family the better the chances that adoption will be successful.” In November, the government published details of how long adoptions took in different local authorities and other information, such as how well children in care did at school in each area. The body which represents the heads of children’s services in councils in England, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, has said it is committed to adoption and to improving the current system for approving adopters – but that adoption is not the only way of providing children with a permanent home.