Speed up adoption or lose it, councils told

Initiative is part of drive to speed up process often delayed by bureaucratic hurdles and shortage of prospective adopters

Councils that take too long to find adoptive parents for children face being stripped of the responsibility under government plans, according to reports.

Children’s Minister Edward Timpson will on Thursday announce that the task would be outsourced to private agencies and charities, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The initiative, involving a change in the law, is part of a drive under education secretary Michael Gove to speed up the adoption process, which is often held up by bureaucratic hurdles and a shortage of prospective adopters.

Some councils have already taken the approach of outsourcing to the voluntary sector the day-to-day job of finding suitable adoptive parents, and ministers have urged more to follow suit.

“With over 4,000 children waiting to be adopted now, this is becoming a national crisis. As well as needing 2,000 to 3,000 parents to clear this backlog, we need to recruit an extra 600 parents a year for the children we know are coming through,” Timpson told the Times.

Latest figures show children in England are left in care for nearly 21 months on average before being adopted.

In England, there are 4,600 children in the UK waiting for adoption. In some areas, youngsters are forced to wait almost three years before moving in with an adoptive family.

Earlier this month, a map showing the parts of England where most children are in need of parents was published to try to cut adoption waits.

Education officials are concerned that prospective parents are often not being pointed to high-need areas if their own has few youngsters on its list.

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