Why the government should set up a National Adoption AuthorityPosted by Francesca on Oct 31, 2011 in Blog | 1 comment
This is our response to government plans to reform adoption in the UK. David Cameron has acknowledged there are shortcomings in our care system, fundamentally that it is itself in a chaotic and neglected state that it is unable to make provision for the children it is supposed to care for. What he will do about it and what he can do about it remains to be seen. He has today said there must be change to a system that takes up to a year to take an at risk child out of care, leaves them in various foster families for a few more and then manages somehow not to find them adoptive parents despite the availability of good and loving homes.
I don’t think we’re any way towards meeting the problem with the reforms it needs. In conversations with both Martin Narey (newly appointed Adoption Czar) and Tim Loughton, the Minister for Children I was impressed with the way both men understood the problem. And I think their intentions are there. However I am not convinced that they are going to generate any substantial mileage in terms of really making any difference – the kind of difference that will change the appalling statistic that out of 4000 children up for adoption in 2010, less than 300 were adopted.
Why is this the case? Again I am loathe to apportion blame on social workers and local authorities as they are merely instruments of the system. It must be said they have used that to make not wholly safe judgements that have tended to be in the interest of keeping families together, rather than finding care and safety for the child. It is the DfE and the government who need to be more accountable though, for their parts in this immoral and often, inhumane circus.
We live in cash strapped times. Councils have always known they can save money, rather a lot of money, by keeping children in care instead of helping them towards adoption. This is going to exacerbate the situation. Sure you can save yourself a bit of money in the short term. And when those neglected kids fail to complete school and end up in prison then what? Because the statistics show us what happens and David Cameron knows it too.
A government that won’t take responsibility for something so fundamental to the well being of children and society is not behaving like a government Government. What we want to see is the government using its weight to enforce any measures with Local Authorities, Social Workers and Family Courts.
Otherwise Local Authorities will do what they have done before and ignore them and hide behind them. We still won’t have the clarity of direction we need.
That’s why we need a National Adoption Authority which will be able to impose guidelines and ensure there are penalties for not following them. We need much more of course, like a more streamlined process in the family courts that does not aggravate the delays already present in the system. But most of all we need David Cameron to take the lead.