The minister responsible for fostering and adoption has registered concern that some local authorities operate “an informal age limit” whereby children were not considered for adoption if aged five or over when taken into care.
Tim Loughton was commenting on analysis of previously published figures which show the proportion drops from one in three at four or younger to one in 15 at five. Among children aged 12 or older, only one in 100 is adopted after being taken into care, according to the Department for Education. Prospective adopters are sometimes thought to be reluctant to take on older children, who may have developmental or emotional problems as a result of more years of abuse or neglect.
However, Loughton told the Times that older children should not be denied the possibility of adoption. “For kids who’ve had a pretty traumatic childhood, getting them into a safe, stable, loving family placement is of the utmost priority, and every day that we fail to achieve that puts them at even more of a disadvantage.
“While many babies are being adopted, as children get to school age the chances of getting adopted fall off dramatically. We need urgently to redouble our efforts to show these children are even more needing and deserving of a long-term placement and should not be written off simply because they are not babies or toddlers. I want to make sure local authorities are not operating some sort of informal age limit.”
New guidelines already drawn up by the government state that older children and those from ethnic minorities should all be considered for adoption by suitable families of any background, regardless of their racial background or social status.
Ministers are eager to see an increase in adoption levels after the number of children placed for adoption fell by 15% between March 2009 and 2010, while more children are also waiting longer to be adopted.
Loughton is on record as saying previously that it was “disappointing” that some councils placed only two% of the children in their care for adoption, while the rate was eight times higher in other areas.
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