BAAF statement re: latest Government announcements on adoption
Far too many children are waiting far too long for adoption. That is why BAAF agrees that it is a crucial national priority to increase the number of people who are being recruited, assessed and approved for adoption. At the same time we must ensure that we fully prepare, properly assess and give the right level of support to prospective adopters to equip them for the joys and challenges of adopting children from the care system.
In order to implement the reforms, the sector as a whole including local authorities and the voluntary sector needs support and encouragement to work together as effectively as possible. This will help to ensure that every child with adoption as their care plan is placed with adopters as soon as possible.
The proposals announced today to use legislation to give Government the option of removing the recruitment and assessment functions from all local authorities would be a very blunt way to address a complex problem. We know that there is some excellent local authority recruitment practice. Indeed, we are aware that some authorities have increased their recruitment and approval of prospective adopters by up to 50% in the last year. A blanket approach across more than 150 local authority adoption agencies is unlikely to have as much positive impact as a more targeted and differentiated approach where the current system is not working well. A blanket approach risks destabilising the sector and devaluing the professional expertise, commitment and resources that have been built up over time in adoption teams in local authorities across the country.
We do not doubt the Government's tremendous commitment to adoption but the introduction of significant uncertainty and the potential for major organisational change is not what is needed now. Instead, our collective focus needs to be on making the adoption reform programme deliver to its full potential.
As such we hope that the Government will focus more on incentivising the adoption market to both grow in capacity and improve its functioning including addressing issues of economies of scale where this is currently not happening.
Everybody in the sector recognises that the futures of thousands of vulnerable children are at stake here and that is why reform – the right mix of reforms – is so important. And in reforming adoption we must build on all that is good in our current adoption system.