Tim Loughton writes in 'The Times': "It is a scandal that too many children are in the care system through no fault of their own and that we have not acted more urgently to give them a safe, loving home."
I recently met a young person who had been in the care system for his whole life. From an early age he was passed from pillar to post, experiencing 25 different foster placements, and never had the time to drop roots. He now worries he doesn’t know how to love. If he had had the opportunity to be adopted early, the stability would have made all the difference. One of the most basic human rights is to experience love.
It is a scandal that too many children are in the care system through no fault of their own and that we have not acted more urgently to give them a safe, loving home. This is a priority for the Government.
I thank The Times for helping to take this to a new level. Martin Narey, the former chief executive of Barnado’s, used his extensive expertise to produce an excellent report for the paper. We must now step up a gear to really help vulnerable children.
I have worked with local authorities and voluntary agencies to make sure that people who want to adopt are encouraged as much as possible. Before the election I set up a team of experts to recommend how to challenge bureaucratic obstacles and poor practice. Our new guidance makes it clear to local authorities and voluntary agencies that they must reduce delays, particularly for older and ethnic minority children.
I am alarmed by variations in how local authorities place children for adoption. That’s why I have highlighted the leaders and laggards. Ofsted will now put more weight on the number, timeliness and quality of adoptions when it inspects children’s services.
Our work in the past year is the first stage in my ambition to make the adoption system truly fit for purpose. I am delighted to confirm that Mr Narey is the Government’s new adviser on adoption. He will make sure that our agenda is seized enthusiastically, visiting authorities that need help to increase adoptions and to improve the quality and sustainability of placements.
But while radical action is necessary and speed essential, checks and balances are needed to make sure that children are not put forward for adoption when inappropriate.
Barely a week has gone by in the past year when I haven’t spoken to parents who have adopted, potential adopters, children in care and those who have benefited from adoption. My most powerful information comes from people with experience of the system. We must continue to work with them and professionals to achieve long-lasting change. I am determined to get this right and see it through.