Rise in children in care as adoption numbers fall

The Times has reported that the number of children being adopted has fallen significantly for the first time in five years, despite record numbers being taken into care.

Official data shows a total of 4,690 children were adopted in the year to March, a 12 per cent drop on the previous year and the first decline in adoption figures since the government introduced reforms to the sector, originally aimed at boosting the number of children entering permanent families.

There are currently 70,440 children in the care system, the highest on record. There were 50,000 two decades ago and the increase was largely among older children, which included unaccompanied asylum seekers which rose to 4,210, up 54 per cent in a year.

The acceleration in the number of children being taken into care has been dubbed the ‘Baby P’ effect, where social workers have grown less tolerant to dysfunctional parenting and more reluctant to tolerate parents neglecting their children.

Hugh Thornbery, chief executive of Adoption UK, commented: “Adoption can offer the best chance to break permanently a cycle of neglect and abuse and give a child a second chance at fulfilling their potential with the support of a loving family.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of clearing up any confusion over the 2013 rulings which have undoubtedly had a negative impact upon adoption decisions and placement orders in recent years.”

Sir Martin Narey, the former government adoption tsar, added: “There is the very worrying possibility that the fantastic achievements of the adoption reforms — the near doubling of adoptions — will evaporate. That would be a real tragedy for the children who will miss out.”