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High degree of variation in adoption decision-making across country

Number of approved adopters has almost halved in last three years

Data collected by the Adoption Leadership Board suggest that while the fall in decisions for adoption and placement orders seems to have halted, this masks a high degree of variation in decision-making at a local and regional level. In many local authorities there has been a fall in adoption decisions of over 50%; while in other areas there has been a significant increase.

The number of local authority decisions that a child should be placed for adoption and placement orders granted by courts fell in the second half of 2013-14. Approximately 21% fewer decisions for adoption were made in 2015-16 compared to 2013-14.

There have been significant changes in the number of adoption decisions made within local authorities. Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, there was a decrease of 50% or more in 21 local authorities; while in 23 local authorities there was an increase of 50% or more.

Of children waiting to be placed at the end of June 2016, 560 had been waiting for 18 months or more since entering care (out of a total of 2,000).

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in the use of special guardianship, especially for family and friend carers. The number of special guardianship orders granted rose from 2,150 in 2012 to 2,830 in 2016, an increase of 32%.

The number of adopters approved fell by 49% between the fourth quarter of 2013-14 and the first quarter of 2016-17 (from 1,390 to 710). Registrations have seen a similar decline.

Andrew Christie, Chair of the Adoption Leadership Board, said:

"This paper looks at the recent trends in adoption and highlights some significant differences in the number of decisions for adoption in different areas of the country. This suggests there may be different approaches to planning and decision making for children in different parts of the country.

"More needs to be done to understand why, in some parts of the country, adoption seems to have been ruled out as an option for children where previously this would have been considered along with other options."

To access the data, click here.

18/4/17