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Children over 5 take more than a year longer to be adopted than younger children

Adoption survey shows reduction in new decisions but increase in matches and placements

The Department for Education has published the Adoption Survey for quarter 3 of 2012-2013 which provides analysis of data covering the characteristics of children at any stage in the adoption process and analysis of their progress in the system.

Between quarter 4 of 2011-12 and quarter 3 of 2012-13 there was a decrease in the number of new decisions (-18%), but there were increases in the number of matches and placements (13% and 15% respectively).

The adoption process for older children, disabled children, children from black or minority ethnic (BME) groups and sibling groups takes longer than the national average. It takes an extra 13 months for children aged 5 and over at placement and an extra 2 months if the child is disabled, if the child is considered for adoption as part of a sibling group or for BME children.

In the third quarter of 2012-13 more BME children were placed with adoptive parents compared to the last quarter of 2011-12 (increasing by over 30%) but this showed a slight decrease of 3% from the second quarter of 2012-13. However the number of BME children placed each quarter is relatively low (fewer than 100) therefore this percentage change should be treated with caution.

The time from entering care to placement with adoptive parents saw a 7% decrease (around 43 days) between quarter 4 of 2011-12 and quarter 1 of 2012-13, driven by decreases across the three quarters of 2012-13. Some of this decrease could be explained by the lower number of older children placed in the second and third quarters of 2012-13.

On 31 December 2012 there were considerably more children awaiting adoption than there were adopters awaiting a child/children (approximately 6,600 compared to 1,800). When considering this apparent difference it should be noted that some adopters will adopt more than one child and many local authorities find adopters through voluntary adoption agencies. Figures from voluntary adoption agencies were not included in this survey.

The number of applications to be adopters saw a 4% increase overall from the last quarter of 2011-12. The number of approvals for new adopters has increased by 25% despite a drop between the first two quarters of 2011-12, and also the number of initial enquiries has seen an increase of 10% despite a decline earlier in the year.

The timeliness for application to approval and from approval to matching has improved across all quarters for adopters.

The survey can be read here.