I’ve written a few times in the past about adoption, fostering and children in care. They are themes that are discussed at my local advice surgeries and frequently crop-up in my postbag and inbox. The reason being that it makes a huge impact on a whole family’s lives when fostering and adoption go well – and when they don’t.
Real frustration at the small number of children successfully adopted each year and stories of the slow processes involved led to the coalition Government – and David Cameron personally – making improvements a top priority. I thought I’d take this opportunity to update readers on recent developments, progress made and plans for further reform.
Plans to speed up the adoption process were announced in March of this year. Earlier this month, Michael Gove introduced a consultation, seeking views on changes to the regulatory framework which would put the new system in place.
The changes include:
A new, shorter two stage approval process for prospective adopters and a fast-track procedure for approved foster carers and second time adopters.
Changes aimed at ensuring swifter use of the Adoption Register by local authorities.
Changes restricting the size of adoption panels so that they can carry out their work more quickly and effectively.
Changes that will make it easier for prospective adopters to be approved as temporary foster carers and take the child they may ultimately adopt into their family sooner.
The consultation is running until December 7 and can be accessed via the Department for Education website. People, including those with a professional interest, birth parents, adopters, prospective adopters, foster carers and prospective foster carers can submit their views.
The processes surrounding fostering are being improved too. In May, work started to:
Encourage more people to become foster carers and to make the assessment and approval processes more timely and responsive.
Ensure foster carers are able to make day-to-day decisions about children in their care.
Develop a more flexible model of support for foster carers who have made a long-term commitment to the children they care for.
Improve the training and support that foster carers and social workers receive.
It’s wonderful to see real improvements being put into place and I’m hoping that, as a result, more people turn an interest in fostering or adoption into reality – there are so many children out there who need and deserve a loving and stable home-life.