Adoption figures low

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JUST 20 Wigan children were adopted last year despite Government plans to speed the process up.

Across the borough 465 children were in care in 2011, falling from 510 in 2010.

The figures were revealed by the Department for Education (DfE) as part of plans to address the delays in the adoption system across the country.

They showed that in the last five years the number of children who found new permanent homes each year stayed exactly the same, except in 2010 when 25 youngsters were adopted.

Those re-homed in 2011 equates to 13 per cent of the number of children looked after by the local authority.

As part of the new plans adoption scorecards have been published in the DfE’s new approach to address delays in the system.

It will set performance thresholds, which will make clear the minimum expectations for timeliness, which will be implemented this year but the thresholds will continue to be raised throughout the next four years.

Other improvements include legislation to reduce the number of adoptions delayed in order to achieve a perfect or near ethnic match, local authorities will also be encouraged to seek to place children with their potential adopters in anticipation of the court’s placement order.

And a fast-track process will be introduced for those who have adopted before or who are foster carers wanting to adopt a child in their care.

Although the adoption figure seems particularly low in Wigan this could be because there are many children that are put into long term care for a variety of reasons, including that they may not be suitable for adoption or are in a position that they may be returned to their parents eventually.

In that regard it is important that those children are able to reach a level of stability in the placements they are put in, whether that is with foster carers or in other residential care.

In the DfE’s report Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, who was himself adopted, acknowledges the importance of stability.

He said: “My experience, and that of thousands of other adoptees, demonstrates that, whatever your start in life, being brought up by adults who provide you with stability and love is transformative.”

In Wigan 120 youngsters under the age of 16 had been in the same placement for at least two years, which equates to more than 70 per cent of children in care.

And that figure has risen by more than 10 per cent since 2007.