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Councils urged to prioritise adoption

DfE issues updated advice to local authorities

The Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson has called on councils not to shy away from putting children forward for adoption, and has asked them to review their practices following a drop in the number of assessments recommending adoption as the best option for a vulnerable child.

In a letter sent by Children and Families Minister Michelle Donelan to every Director of Children's Services in the country, the government has backed councils to prioritise adoption, and challenged the myths that exist around who can or cannot adopt a child. The letter comes amid concerns that prospective adoptive parents are being turned away despite the law being clear they are eligible.

The Department for Education has also published new advice for councils. This makes clear that age, income, sexual orientation and marital status should not be used as reasons to turn away prospective adopters.
Instead, councils are being urged to prioritise adopters' ability to provide a stable, loving home and whether they would provide the best environment for a young person to grow up and flourish in.

The updated advice follows a multi-million pound investment in an additional year of the government's Adoption Support Fund – making clear the government's continued commitment to get more children out of the care system and into permanent homes.

Alongside this increased funding, more than £1 million will also be provided for Regional Adoption Agencies, working with voluntary organisations around the country, to run recruitment campaigns in 2020 aimed at finding adoptive families for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) children.

The latest data show that of the 2,700 children waiting for adoption, almost 40 per cent have waited over 18 months. Of these, 24 per cent were from BAME backgrounds.

For the government announcement, click here. For the Children and Families Minister's letter, click here.