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An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay

 An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay (Issued by Department of Education – March 2012)

Adoption with Humanity welcomes the new action plan. However, we continue to believe that sadly this will not make the changes necessary to improve the adoption system and assert the best interests of children. The reason remains the same – there still isn’t the appropriate regulatory authority to ensure that the government will be able to achieve the Minister’s stated goal “to accelerate the whole adoption process so that more children benefit from adoption and more rapidly”.

Far too much slack is given to local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies to achieve standards that they had already been expected (and failed) to meet for seven years. There is a role to help manage local family courts for the Family Justice Board at national level and the Local Family Justice Operational Boards – but the “elephant in the room” is that the courts and the adoption agencies are working to completely different and opposed laws and no effort has been made to align them. In addition, there is no integrated structure to ensure that sanctions can be taken to minimise and moderate the effects of failure.

Evidence is continuing to come to light about the failures of the current system – most recently the scandal of the unreliability of professional expert witnesses in family courts, and the excessive reliance that judges place on their reports, which has been described as “staggeringly wrong”.
Please read the article below, “How competent are expert witnesses?

We maintain that the need for an adoption regulator, with regulatory investigatory and enforcement powers to meet statutory objectives set by the government, is only increasing.

The rationale for an integrated national adoption regulator in England and Wales is based on four primary considerations:
▪   The advantage of having a single regulator which is clearly accountable for its performance against statutory objectives, including:
-          the development of regulations
-          the investigation of the application of regulations
-          the enforcement of regulations
-          sanctions to be applied for the failure to abide by regulation.
▪   To ensure that regulation is consistent with the results of research and best practice world wide.
▪   To take advantage of economies of scale and scope and to add value by being able to allocate scarce regulatory resources efficiently and effectively.
▪   To take advantage of the benefits of being able to resolve the various interest groups and differing philosophies in one integrated authority.

These considerations explain why Adoption with Humanity continues to call for the Government to reassess the situation and set up a National Adoption Authority to act as an integrated national adoption regulator. The Government’s Action Plan for Adoption is doomed to failure and too much time will be wasted on allowing this to happen – and in the meanwhile it is the children who will pay the price.


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