The Department of Education is publishing an update to the adoption scorecards covering the period 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2013. The scorecards were introduced as part of a new approach to address delays in the adoption system, set out in ‘An action plan for adoption: tackling delay’ (March 2012).
Recently, Ofsted published data which showed a 34% rise in the number of approved applications between 2012 and 2013. This is hugely encouraging, but with 6,000 children who have been approved by the courts for adoption still waiting to be placed, we need to go further and we need to go faster. Which is why we’re maintaining such a strong focus on reforming the adoption system and are today announcing that performance thresholds are being raised annually (to 2016) so they reflect the levels set out in the Action Plan for Adoption for 2013 to 2016.
The scorecard data for the period 2010 to 2013 was also published today (14 January 2014).
Performance thresholds make clear the government’s expectations for timeliness in the adoption system. The 3 scorecard indicators are:
- A1: average time between a child entering care and moving in with its adoptive family, for children who have been adopted. The target for the 2013 to 2016 average (as measured during the 3 years 2013 to 2016) is 14 months
- A2: average time between a local authority receiving court authority to place a child and the local authority deciding on a match to an adoptive family. The target for the 2013 to 2016 average (as measured during the 3 years 2013 to 2016) is 4 months
- A3: measures the number and percentage of children who wait less than 14 months between entering care and moving in with their adoptive family (2013 to 2016)
The scorecards allow local authorities and other adoption agencies to monitor their own performance and compare it with that of others.
||Indicator 1 threshold (months)
||Indicator 2 threshold (months)
|2010 to 2013
|2011 to 2014
|2012 to 2015
|2013 to 2016
Edward Timpson, Children’s Minister, has written to all local authorities to stress that meeting the thresholds will need an increasingly sharp focus, especially as thresholds become more challenging. In some local authorities he will be notifying them of plans for further work to share effective practice, and secure faster improvements where there are concerns.
The third set of adoption scorecards and performance tables (covering 2010 to 2013 financial years) published today show that overall there has been no improvement in timeliness since 2009 to 2012. Against the uprated thresholds only 36 local authorities met both thresholds and 65 authorities failed to meet both thresholds.
Whilst this is disappointing, the data does not cover 2013 to 2014, the year in which we made a number of significant changes to the adoption system, and which are expected to deliver improvements. These include £150 million to local authorities to boost adopter recruitment and support adoption reform on the ground, £1 million to increase the capacity of the voluntary adoption sector, setting up the First4Adoption national gateway, and introducing the new 2-stage assessment and approval process for adopters.
And on 24 December 2013, the government announced:
- £50 million for councils as they prepare to implement reforms and work with voluntary adoption agencies - and each other - to recruit more adopters for the 6,000 children waiting for a loving home
- a new adoption leadership board supporting local authorities drive through the reforms in the Children and Families Bill, and help adoption agencies stay on track recruiting more adoptive parents
- fully interactive, clickable maps were published on the First4Adoption website to help would-be adopters find out more about agencies in their area and across the country, help them make an informed choice based on performance and help them access the most appropriate recruitment agency for them - wherever it may be