Press release

£4.5 million to end delays for children awaiting adoption

New funding for regional adoption agencies to help place children in stable, loving homes faster than ever before.

Trailblazing councils leading the way in matching children awaiting adoption with their ‘forever family’ are to benefit from new government funding worth £4.5 million.

The injection of cash will mean the first regional adoption agencies - groups of councils coming together to match children quickly with adoptive parents - will be up and running months earlier than planned. This is an excellent start to the government’s plans to revolutionise the adoption system by placing all councils in regional adoption agencies by the end of this Parliament, as announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Last year, more than 5,000 children were found the permanent home they desperately need - a record increase of 26% in just 12 months. However, more than 3,000 children remain waiting to be matched with their new parents, with more than half having spent more 18 months in care despite there being adopters readily available.

At the moment, adoption is happening at too small and localised a scale. A recent study showed that in around 1 in 3 cases, children were left waiting longer than necessary due to council’s reluctance to look outside their immediate area for the right family - a further delay to a life full of love and stability.

By encouraging councils to work together, the potential matches for a child would increase significantly, giving children a far better chance of quickly finding a permanent family.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who grew up with 2 adopted brothers, said:

It doesn’t matter whether adoptive parents are from Reading or Rochdale, Cornwall or Cumbria - what matters ultimately is their ability to open up their hearts to a vulnerable child in need of a loving family.

Every single day a child spends waiting in care for their new family is a further delay to a life full of love and stability. This just isn’t good enough. Where adoption is proven to be in the best interest of the child, we have a moral mission to make sure they are matched quickly with parents who are right for them - regardless of where they live.

The new funding announced today will help councils come together and access an ever-growing pool of approved adopters - creating families quickly and successfully.

Thanks to reforms under the last government, there are now more families than ever ready to adopt. The government now wants to make sure that fewer children face unnecessary delays before being placed in a loving and stable home through adoption.

The government’s plan to introduce regional adoption agencies was introduced in the Queen’s Speech last month. Actively encouraging councils to join forces and work together as regional adoption agencies will act as a triple win:

  • giving councils a greater pool of approved adopters with which to match vulnerable children successfully, first time
  • making vital support services more widely available to adoptive families as and when they need them
  • better targeting the recruitment of adopters

Notes to editors

  1. Read more about the regional adoption agencies programme.
  2. There are currently no barriers to councils working together to streamline and improve the adoption system, but evidence shows that at present - when placing children for adoption - some councils tend to concentrate their efforts locally, rather than looking further afield for what might be a better match.
  3. ‘An investigation of family finding and matching in adoption’ briefing paper found that local authorities tend to seek to place their adopters approved ‘in-house’ before considering adopters approved by other local authorities and then voluntary adoption agencies. This results in sequential decision making, which means some children wait longer than they should to be adopted.
  4. Read the Queen’s Speech and background information on the government’s policies and proposed legislative programme.

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