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Prime Minister announces plans to speed up placements with potential adopters

‘Fostering for Adoption’ will not pre-empt the court’s decision

The Prime Minister has announced plans to reduce radically the time it takes for a child to move in with their permanent family. The proposals are included in the policy paper Proposals for placing babies with permanent carers earlier.

The Government will legislate to make fostering by potential adopters standard practice in many cases, so that those in care are placed with carers who have the potential to become their adoptive parents, rather than in temporary homes.

The Government wants to see more children becoming part of a permanent family sooner so they can reap the benefits of growing up in a stable and loving environment. The Prime Minister has already expressed concern that just 60 babies under one year of age were adopted in 2010/11.

New analysis shows that for the babies who come into care aged under one month, half were eventually adopted, but it took an average of more than 15 months for them to move in with their permanent family.

Ministers believe this is too long and want many more babies and children to move into their potentially permanent home earlier than they have done in recent years. The Government will do this by introducing a new legal duty on local authorities to consider placing children with approved adopters who will foster the child first, and help provide a stable home much earlier in their life. This will remove groundless doubts about whether 'Fostering for Adoption' is legal and good practice.

Ministers believe that under the current system it is too often the case that local authorities do not begin to look for a permanent family for a child until a court order has been received.

Fostering for Adoption is not intended to pre-empt the court's decision that a child should be adopted. But, the Government says, it means that whether or not the child is adopted, they should suffer less trauma from disruption and be found a stable home earlier than is the case at present. In doing so the Government hopes that more people will come forward to become potential adopters.

Announcing the change in law, the Prime Minister said:

"Children's needs must be at the very heart of the adoption process - it's shocking that we have a system where 50 per cent of one month old babies who come to the care system go on to be adopted but wait 15 months to be placed in a permanent, loving home. That's why today I'm changing the law and calling for urgent action - both from local authorities and from potential adopters - to get the system moving.

"These new plans will see babies placed with approved adopters who will foster first, and help provide a stable home at a much earlier stage in a child's life. This way, we're trying our very best to avoid the disruption that can be so damaging to a child's development and so detrimental to their future wellbeing.
I'm determined that we act now to give these children the very best start in life. These babies deserve what every child deserves: a permanent, secure and happy home environment to grow up in."

For more information, please visit the Department for Education website.