Local authorities urged to prioritise adoption

Gavin Williamson has urged councils to prioritise adoption and ensure adoptive parents are not wrongly turned away to allow more vulnerable young people find a stable, loving home.

The Education Secretary has asked councils to review their practices following a drop in the number of assessments recommending adoption as the best option for a vulnerable child.

Underlining the government’s manifesto commitment to prioritise adoption, the Department for Education has also published new advice for councils, outlining that age, income, sexual orientation and marital status should not be used as reasons to turn away prospective adopters. Instead, councils are being urged to prioritise adopters’ ability to provide a stable, loving home and whether they would provide the best environment for a young person to grow up and flourish in.

Children and Families Minister Michelle Donelan has also written to every Director of Children’s Services in the country, the government has backed councils to prioritise adoption, and challenged the myths that exist around who can or cannot adopt a child.

Williamson said: “Adoption can transform the lives of children waiting in care for a permanent, loving home. I applaud the hard work and commitment of the social workers who dedicate themselves to giving children the kind of home environment that many of us take for granted and urge them not to shy away from putting children forward for adoption.

“As long as adoptive parents can offer love, care and the stable home every child in care deserves, I want them to be considered. This government will continue building on the increased support we are giving new adoptive families by making it clear to every council that if they think it is in the best interest of the child, I will back them 100 per cent in recommending adoption.”

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “Councils share the government’s ambition to make sure that children in care have stable, loving homes, including through adoption where appropriate, however we don’t believe that any one form of permanence is superior to others. What is most important is that children’s needs and their voices are at the centre of any decision made about their futures. Whichever option is best for a child, it is vital that all parts of the system are working well together, from councils and adoption agencies to the family courts, and we are keen to work with the government to make sure this operates as well as it should.

“Councils have long welcomed applications from people of all backgrounds who are interested in adoption, and will continue to support those who are able to provide a loving, stable home for a child in care. Additional funding for Regional Adoption Agencies to recruit prospective adopters is good news, as is the extension of the Adoption Support Fund which has helped so many families. We urge the government to also consider investing in the recruitment and support of foster carers to make sure that we have the most suitable placements available for all children.”