New British drive to speed up adoption
Nasty British social workers chase off nine out of 10 potential adopters by grilling them as if they were terrorists
David Cameron will within days launch a new drive to make adoption simpler and speedier and to improve the educational opportunities for children in care. The blueprint will see local authorities which perform badly in placing children with adoptive parents being named and shamed – as well as plans to boost the funding given to children in care as they progress through school and to university.
The initiative comes after the Prime Minister pledged to remove barriers to adoption in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this month, describing the fact that just 60 babies under the age of one were adopted last year out of 3,600 in care as a "scandal."
The move has been fast tracked on the urging of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who was adopted at fourth months old by a family in Aberdeen. Ministers are to adopt a "twin track" approach, including a new campaign to get more parents to consider adopting.
Mr Gove has already put fresh guidelines in place to ensure social workers allow white families to adopt black and mixed-race children and ensure that single people and older people are not barred from adopting.
Councils will have do report on their success in placing children in new households more regularly and more transparently – with the threat of publicly identifying the worst-performing authorities.
Ministers will impose a fixed limit of six months for a child's care proceedings to be sorted out. Currently the average time between a child being taken into care and being adopted is two years and seven months, a period ministers regard as being "unacceptably long."
The coalition is also considering radical proposals designed to help children who spend periods in care do better at school.
Moves to boost the pupil premium – extra money given to schools for the poorest children – for children who spend time in care, and to reduce their tuition fees if they go to university, are likely to be put out to public consultation. At the moment, only 19 per cent of "looked after children" (defined as those that spend some time in care) achieve five GCSEs with grades A* to C, compared with 70 per cent of all children.
They also go on to achieve worse A-level results and fewer university places – as well as being more likely to be involved in crime and alcohol abuse.
Department for Education data shows 27,310 children were taken into care during the year ending 31 March 2011, down from 28,090 the previous year. There was also a fall in the number of looked-after children placed for adoption from 2,720 in 2007 to 2,450.
In his conference speech Mr Cameron said: "I can announce a new focus on the 65,000 children in care. "Do you know how many children there are in care at the age of one? 3,660. And how many children under the age of one were adopted in our country last year? 60.
"This may not seem like the biggest issue facing our country, but it's the biggest issue for these children. How can we have let this happen? "With the right values and the right effort, let's end this scandal and help these, the most vulnerable children of all."