Adoption: PM unveils 'foster to adopt' plan

baby Babies need a stable loving home as early as possible, ministers say

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New-born babies being taken into care should be fostered by people who want to adopt them, the prime minister has said.

David Cameron has said the law in England will be changed to encourage more councils to do this - so more babies can find a loving home earlier.

He says it is "shocking" that so many babies taken in to care at one month wait 15 months to be adopted.

The government has pledged to simplify and speed up the adoption process.

It wants babies to be placed with prospective adoptive parents before the courts have decided to remove them permanently from their natural parents.

This is already being done by some councils, such as Harrow, which is working with the Coram children's charity.

In some cases, there might be disappointment for those trying to adopt, because the courts might eventually decide to return the child to its natural parents.

Most often, children are moved from foster carers to adoptive parents once the courts have decided that the child should be adopted - a process that often takes more than a year.

On average, a child waits two years and seven months to be placed with an adoptive family.

Last year ministers highlighted figures which showed that of the 3,660 children under the age of one who were in care in England in 2010-11, only 60 were adopted.

Damaging disruption

David Cameron said: "Children's needs must be at the very heart of the adoption process - it's shocking that we have a system where 50% of one-month-old babies who come to the care system go on to be adopted but wait 15 months to be placed in a permanent, loving home.

"These new plans will see babies placed with approved adopters who will foster first, and help provide a stable home at a much earlier stage in a child's life. This way, we're trying our very best to avoid the disruption that can be so damaging to a child's development and so detrimental to their future well-being."

The legal change is supported by the government's adoption adviser Martin Narey, who said he had seen the "fostering for adoption" scheme work well in East Sussex.

People who wanted to adopt would be prepared to take the risks involved, he said, "because they know how important early stability is to a neglected child".

'Early permanence'

"This development is great news for adopters and even better news for neglected and abused children and infants."

Local councils say finding permanent families earlier can increase stability and reduce delays for some children, but that it is also vital to find more people willing to foster and adopt.

Debbie Jones, president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services, said: "Some good local authorities are already taking steps to place children with families who will become adopters earlier in the child's journey to adoption.

"This process will not be right for all children or all adopters, but can offer the benefits of early permanence for some."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I think the heartbreak of having to give a child back may be problematic. A quicker process is much needed and rather than placing babies before a decision has been made, get the courts to act quicker also so that a child’s fate is not held in limbo for such a long time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    this proposal is just common sense. Almost all proposed adoptions go through eventually. Most of the vetting of parents as suitable adopters happens well before they apply to adopt a particular child. The legal paperwork for a rubber stamp on the decision just takes a while. In the meantime the child is in care. This way they have a loving home while the paperwork gets sorted. Common sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    We are adoptive parents with two full siblings. This is a very good plan and should of been put in place long ago. Our youngest spent his first year in foster care when it was obvious he would be placed with us and his sibling for adoption. We were not allowed even to meet him. These children with no chance of being sent back to the birth family need to be placed with adoptors asap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    I think its terrible that this isn't already happening. Love stability and security are the most important things to children. If they have the opportunity to go straight to a family who are prepared to keep them indefinately that can ONLY be a good thing, if the decision is changed and the child will return to it's natural parents that is ideal. Everything must be set out for the adoptive family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    To clarify. After people have jumped through hoops to adopt, their lives put under scrutiny and the stress experienced at this time, they get approved for adoption. In the meantime, aware that if they are given a child, it may be unwise to get too attached to it in case it is taken away and returned to the natural parents. And I thought the government were trying to encourage adoption.......


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