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Adoption inquiries in South West fall amid coronavirus lockdown

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image captionAdopt South West says the number of adoption inquiries reduced by half during March

Adoption inquiries have halved amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the south west region's adoption agency has said.

Adopt South West - a partnership of Devon, Somerset, Torbay, Plymouth and Dorset councils - saw 65 inquiries in February which fell to 33 in March.

Service manager Kath Drescher said: "They don't know what's going to be happening with their jobs or financial situation at the end of this."

The agency currently has 70 children ready for adoption across the region.

Ms Drescher added that while there had been a dip, the number of inquiries seemed to be stabilising.

"We are keen to be talking, to keep on talking to people and to get people in the system and we recognize the uncertainty," she said.

For those further along the process, virtual meetings for "panels" have worked well.

Panels meet up six times a month. They cover two areas - approval to become an adopter and matching a child with a potential new family.

"One of the benefits that we've seen already is how quickly you can pull a panel together," Ms Drescher said.

The next stage of adoption is placements within potential future families. Four placements have so far been delayed across the patch.

More placements are expected to be delayed as lockdown restrictions continue.

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