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Number of children placed for adoption has fallen by 15% in last year

National Adoption Leadership Board points to Re B / Re B-S effect

Latest figures released by the Department for Education show that the number of looked after children in England placed for adoption, which rose from 2011 to 2014, has decreased by 15% in 2015 to 3,320 (as at 31 March). This is consistent with the decrease in the number of looked after children with a placement order in place at 31 March which has dropped by 24% from 2014. The National Adoption Leadership Board has linked decreases in placement orders to the impact of two relevant court judgments, Re B (A Child) [2013] UKSC 33 and Re B-S (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146. The National Adoption Leadership Board has published guidance on this issue.

There were 5,330 looked after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2015. Whilst numbers continue to increase, the rate of increase in 2015 is lower than in previous years: there was an increase of 5% between 2014 and 2015, compared with an increase of 26% between 2013 and 2014.
The number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past seven years. There were 69,540 looked after children at 31 March 2015, an increase of 1% compared to 31 March 2014 and an increase of 6% compared to 31 March 2011.

The majority of children looked after are placed with foster carers. In 2015 the number of children in foster care continued to rise; of the 69,540 children looked after at 31 March, 52,050 (75%) were cared for in a foster placement.

In response to the latest figures on adoption and placements, John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development at CoramBAAF said:

"The Department of Education's new adoption statistics present a complex picture.  On the one hand there is the largest rise in children leaving care that we have seen for many years and at the same time there is a dramatic fall in the number of children with adoption as their long term plan but who have not yet placed.  This see-saw of statistics indicates a significant lack of confidence and confusion about making long term plans for a group of highly vulnerable children.

"Ensuring that all children have the benefit of a loving, stable, and lifelong family life could not be a more significant responsibility in social policy. This has long been an identified priority in the U.K.  For a very small group of children, the serious risks in the family of origin mean that alternatives have to be proactively planned for and adoption is one of those alternatives.  Local authorities and the courts carry the responsibility for this but the current situation strongly indicates that there is a widening gulf that is seriously damaging the prospects for these children. This cannot be allowed to continue and there is an urgent need to establish a more coherent, evidence based and child centred set of principles.  We owe these children no less."

The statistical release is here.

For details of the number of 18 year old care leavers who stay with their foster carers (detailed in the same statistical release), please click here.