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Children adopted from care numbers rise by 12% in the last year
BAAF calls for focus on increasing the number of placements from care
Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that there were 67,050 looked after children at 31 March 2012, an increase of 2 per cent compared to 31 March 2011 and an increase of 13 per cent compared to 31 March 2008.
There were 28,220 children who started to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2012.
This represents an increase of 3 per cent from the previous year’s figure of 27,500 and an increase of 21 per cent from 2008. There were 27,350 children who ceased to be looked after during the year ending 31 March 2012. This is a small increase of 1 per cent from 2011 and an increase of 12 per cent from 2008.
There were 3,450 looked after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2012. This was the highest figure since 2007 and an increase of 12 per cent from the 2011 figure.
Of children looked after at 31 March 2012, 50,260 were cared for in a foster placement. This represents 75 per cent of all children looked after at 31 March 2012.
The statistical release can be read here.
Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said:
“The rise in the number of adoptions and adoption placement orders is extremely welcome, but it still takes too long for those who want to adopt and foster to be approved. The time it takes for a child in care to be adopted can be a significant period in that child’s life.
“I know from my own family that parents who adopt and foster bring stability to young lives. That is why we are overhauling adoption, but I know that our reforms will take time to make a full impact.
“So we are looking at measures to encourage councils to make use of adopters in other parts of the country. We will shorten the approval process and fast track those who are already foster carers.
“Taken together I hope these reforms will, over time, encourage more people to come forward and volunteer to adopt children. I want more young children to have a settled start in life with a loving family.
“That way, they can make a profound and lasting impact on young lives.”
The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is pleased to see that the number of children adopted from care in the year April 2011-Mar 2012 increased by 12%.
BAAF says that the headline statistic of 3,450 children adopted from care measures the number of children who were the subject of an Adoption Order by a court during the year in question. Typically the court will make an Order some 9 months after a child first goes to live with their new adoptive family. As such the statistic measures the very end of the adoption process and is not the best indicator of current adoption practice.
To get a better sense of what is happening in adoption, BAAF believes that there is a need to focus on the statistic of the number of children placed for adoption during the year. That statistic shows a very slight decrease in the numbers of children placed for adoption during the year from 2,710 in 2010/11 to 2,680 in 2011/12. From experience BAAF thinks this means that the significant increase seen in numbers adopted will be sustained next year but is unlikely to increase further.
“Our focus now has to be on increasing the number of children placed for adoption. We know that currently there are at least 2,000 children in foster care with a plan for adoption who are not in an adoptive placement. This is in large part because of a chronic shortage of adopters for particular groups of children e.g. children in sibling groups, older children, children with disabilities, etc. If we could find adopters for those children who are waiting we would see further substantial increases in adoption over the next few years and this could only increase the impact of the Government’s welcome adoption reform programme.
“The latest statistics provide an encouraging base on which to build. To make further progress, we need to see a concerted whole system focus on increasing adopter recruitment, speeding up court processes, improving the adopter assessment process and ensuring adoption support. We know that adoption works and we owe it to every child who has a plan for adoption to realise that plan for them without delay. BAAF looks forward to continuing to do everything it can to help the Government’s adoption reform programme to succeed.”
BAAF also notes the very significant year on year increase in the numbers of children who were the subject of Special Guardianship Orders – a 20% increase in a single year. This figure does need to be seen in the context of the increase in adoptions and shows that the number of children achieving permanence through these different routes increased substantially year on year.