Radical adoption plans to help 70 Yorkshire children

Secretary of State for Education, Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan MP.
Secretary of State for Education, Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan MP.

Youngsters who haven't been adopted after 18 months in care will be at the centre of new Government plans to place them with new parents as soon as possible.

Social workers will be told to prioritise adoption at the earliest opportunity for those who have suffered traumatic abuse, while those under 18 months will have adoption pursued when it is in their best interests.

The brand new strategy has been unveiled by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan as part of a Government plan to halve the time children spend in care and stop youngsters spending time with a series of short term carers.

In Yorkshire and the Humber there are 70 high priority children who have been in the care system for 18 months, while there are 330 children waiting to be adopted with 240 of these still without a permanent home.

The Government say their four year strategy matches children with adoptive parents without delay as it is 'free from the shackles of council red tape'.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Today’s strategy is a watershed moment – a new line in the sand. For the first time ever, we are explicitly setting out how we will transform the lives of the most vulnerable children in Yorkshire and Humber by making sure they get the opportunities they deserve.

“We cannot stand by while children spend months in care waiting for the new family, despite there being loving parents available. We cannot preside over a situation where adopted children are less likely to do well at school than their classmates. And we mustn’t fail to take action against stifling red tape that stops councils from matching children with the families that are right for them.

“This radical new vision will make sure decisions rightly prioritise children’s long-term stability and happiness, so that children are placed with their new family as quickly as possible, helping them fulfill their potential and get the very best start in life.”

She said at the earliest possible opportunity, the Government will amend the criteria used by social workers and courts when deciding which placement is right for the child – prioritising the restorative care and long-term stability that adoptive placements can offer to those children who have often suffered from 'devastating, heinous abuse'.

Larger local pools of approved adopters will also be created by making sure every single council is part of a Regional Adoption Agency by 2020, backed by £14 million per region.

There will be new support available for adoptive families by becoming the first country in the world to provide vital therapeutic services to all adopted young people up to the age of 21 with £49m of investment.

This strategy will be driven forward by a new chair appointed to the Adoption Leadership Board, Andrew Christie, who was Director of Children's Services at Westminster, Fulham and Kensington councils.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who grew up with around 90 fostered brothers and sisters including two adopted brothers, said the Govenment's 'Adoption - Vision for Change' plan would help children achieve stability sooner.

He said: “I have seen first-hand how vulnerable children can benefit from adoption, when it is in their best interests.

“We have to make sure they are getting the very best start in life and the opportunities all adopted children deserve, which is why today we are setting out our vision to end unnecessary delays, and get children into a loving and stable home sooner.”

Andrew Christie, new Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board, said: “This is the first time the government has set out its vision so clearly, and I’m delighted to be taking on this role, helping to steer direction and ensure that all children get a loving home without delay.”

In 2015, 5,300 children were adopted – 72% more than in 2011.